Cathedral Square Brewery's Belgian Abbey Ale
STYLE: Dubbel (6.5% abv)
AVAILABLE AT: The Wine Merchant, 20 S. Hanley Road, Clayton, winemerchantltd.com; $3.99 (22-oz bottle)
PAIRINGS: Boeuf bourguignon • Chocolate éclair
While American breweries have the freedom to brew almost anything, certain styles seem to be done better by their home countries. However, with its dark complexion and figgy aroma and flavor, Cathedral Square Abbey Ale is a Belgian-style beer that stands among the best beers coming from Belgium.
Deschutes Brewery's Black Butte Porter
STYLE: American Porter (5.2% abv)
AVAILABLE AT: Randall's, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com; $2.99 (22-oz bottle)
PAIRINGS: Smoked beef brisket • Gouda
While beers from many East Coast breweries have seemingly eluded us in St. Louis, we're seeing some major love from our friends out west. Deschutes, out of Bend, Ore., has been brewing beer for more than 20 years. With Black Butte's velvety mouthfeel, notes of chocolate and enticing complexity, it's not difficult to see why it is Deschutes' flagship brand.
Green Flash Brewing's Rayon Vert
STYLE: Belgian-Style Pale Ale (7% abv)
AVAILABLE AT: Friar Tuck, multiple locations, friartuckonline.com; $9.39 (four-pack, 12-oz bottles)
PAIRINGS: Pad Thai • Grilled grouper
Even saying the word "brettanomyces" will send shivers up a winemaker's or brewer's spine. Brett is a weird and funky yeast strain that is difficult to get rid of once it's in your brewery or winery. But it also adds a fantastically complex and intriguing flavor that provides earthy funkiness with a bit of fruitiness and helps make Rayon Vert a unique and wonderful beer.
The creator of STLHops.com and founder of St. Louis Craft Beer Week, Michael Sweeney is also the craft beer manager at Lohr Distributing.