If you travel around the country, and you are a beer lover, Thrilllist.com might be a website worth checking out.
This website covers travel, food and drink, and the drink section includes quite a bit of beer. It regularly rates beer and bars, and has even ranked each state in the country according their beer.
One of Thrillist’s most recent lists is “The 15 Best Beers to Drink This Winter.” Of the beers on the list, only five are not available in Michiana as far as I know.
Three regional beers include: Bell’s Winter White (witbier, 5% ABV) and Founders Backwoods Bastard (barrel aged Scotch ale, 10.2% ABV), both of which hit Michiana shelves recently, and Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza (Belgian strong ale, 9% ABV), a holiday seasonal that will hopefully arrive soon.
Noel de Calabaza is aged in oak barrels and bottle conditioned. The brewery describes it as, “deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.”
In August, Thrillist ranked each state by its beer. Both quantity and quality were important factors, however, quality was the much more important aspect of this list. You will be happy to know that Indiana, as well as surrounding states, all ranked within the top 20 — no surprise that Michigan was in the top 5:
Three local beers also made the “23 American Beers to drink before you die” list that was published in March this year. Some on the list are seasonals, so they are not available for purchase year round, but over half can be purchased in Michiana. Only seven of the beers on the list are not distributed locally.
Included on the list are Bell’s Oberon (American Wheat beer, 5.8% ABV, available March – Labor Day), Founders Dirty Bastard (Scotch style ale, 8.5% ABV), and Three Floyds Dark Lord (Russian Imperial Stout, 15% ABV), which is only for sale in limited quantities at the brewery itself on one day of the year.
There are many “best beer bar” lists and Thrillist.com has contributed its list to the collection. We are lucky to have several great bars in Michiana where we have many choices, but these beer bars go even beyond what we can find locally.
Since that article was published in June, HopCat has opened another location in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood located about six miles north of Indianapolis.
In addition, HopCat Grand Rapids has been named the No. 3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth by Beer Advocate magazine, a Top 5 Great American Beer Bar by CraftBeer.com for three years straight and the No. 1 brewpub in the country by RateBeer.com.
From the Thrillist list, I have visited both HopCat Grand Rapids and The Happy Gnome — which leaves quite a few more for exploring. The rest of the list covers New York to Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon to Ft. Lauderdale, and all points in between. How many have you been to?