Rule No. 1: There is no shame in a go-to beer. It’s likely something light and reliable, time-tested and unchallenging—like slipping into your favorite jeans. Everyone needs one, and it’s not meant to impress your fellow bar pals.
Rule No. 2: A pox upon you if you never stray—and we don’t mean trying a porter for a change. Local and regional beer gurus have taken it upon themselves to go way, way out on a limb so that we plebeian tipplers may enjoy the finer, the rarer, and the much more eclectic things in life. If you can find them, consider giving these oddities a whirl at your next dinner party or night out.
Dogfish Head Choc Lobster
Porter, meet your far more successful and dashingly handsome cousin. Born of the brewery’s Super Small Batch program (read: singular, pseudo-experimental batches for on-site beer dinners), Choc Lobster was such a hit that Dogfish Head decided to expand its production—a little. The larger batch starts as a porter base that serves as a beer bath for whole Maine lobsters. Then comes six pounds of dark cocoa powder and a healthy dose of basil tea to create a flavor that’s briny, slightly sweet and smoky—altogether not as insane as the name insinuates. Sadly, you can’t get it in growlers and you can’t get it in liquor stores, but you can try it out at Caffé Gelato’s White Whale Beer Dinner on Nov. 16.
Rogue’s Collab with Portland, Ore.’s Voodoo Doughnuts
For those of you who have never experienced the magic that is Voodoo Doughnuts, we are truly sorry that your life has no meaning. A fair substitute, though perhaps not for breakfast, would be Rogue Ale’s drinkable translation of the cult confection. Choose between the Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale or the Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale, of which we’re sure Elvis would approve. These are surely enjoyed best as desserts on their own, but we wouldn’t object to swapping these for the root beer in a grown-up version of the childhood ice cream float. Both are available at Total Wines in Claymont and Wilmington.
Twisted Pines’ Ghost Face Killah
If you’re “that person” who carries hot sauce with them wherever they go, this is your new brew. Not only has the Boulder, Colo., brewery thrown Serrano, habanero, jalapeño, Anaheim, and Fresno peppers into the batch, but the sinister smokiness is due to none other than but jolokia, the famed ghost pepper. Drinking this beer is like seeing pyrotechnics at a jazz concert—an explosive, fiery bang that marries into a soft, golden wheat flavor you’re unlikely to experience without need of a nearby fire extinguisher. If nothing else, it’s sure to warm you up as the temperatures dip, and it’s way classier than ordering a shot of Fireball. Ghost Face Killah is available at Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet in West Deptford, N.J.
Yard’s Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce
Based on Benjamin Franklin’s original recipe, which called for barley, molasses, and essence of spruce, this brew incorporates blue spruce clippings and molasses for a taste that’s uniquely herbal and refreshing. This spice ale won the bronze at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, and is widely available throughout Delaware and Pennsylvania. Better yet, head up 95 and see what else the Philly brewery has up its sleeve.
Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale
Why? Because there’s nothing that doesn’t have bacon in it anymore. At 6.8 percent ABV, you know what you’re getting yourself into when you combine two of Earth’s greatest gifts. A subtle hop aroma gives way to a smoky bacon finish, which means if you’re in it for the pig (and of course you are), just make sure to put the can down at some point. The good news is that this exists. The bad new is that it’s not available locally. You can’t have everything.
Know of a good (and locally available) bacon beer? Add it to the list, along with other suggestions in the comments section.