There’s no question that if you’re reading this, you’re already a raving fan of American craft beers. Bold IPAs, rich and decadent stouts and thirst-quenching sours are staples in out beer coolers. But don’t’ forget about the original craft beers – finely crafted, historically prominent Old World beers.
The holidays are a great time to visit – or revisit – these beers, with company coming, there’s no better time to crack open from Old World beers to sample with friends and family. Some brewers roll out special holiday samplers that often include premiums like glassware or commemorative packaging.
Our favorite’s list reads like a Who’s Who of Old World brewers – many with centuries of experience behind the labels. While this certainly isn’t every import we offer form the Savannah Distributing portfolio, these are the labels that we hear about the most from you – our loyal customers.
Belgium is arguably the undisputed motherland of elegant, uniquely crafted beers. Consider one or more of these beers to represent the best of Belgium:
This refreshing Flemish Red ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months. RateBeer.com 96 points. 6 ABV.
This framboise has a simple and straightforward character – not unlike the humble summer fruit with which it is flavored. There is no cloying sweetness, just the market-fresh taste and sweetness of ripened ruby raspberries. With a characteristic limbic funk midway, the St. Louis Premium is as stalwart and stoic as the king for whom it was named. The raspberry flavor is neither overly sour nor sickly sweet, its body neither obtrusively heavy nor ephemerally light – it is in short a perfectly concocted fresh fruit Belgian lambic. 4.5 ABV.
Long before hops were common in most beers, various fruits and vegetables were used to season beers. The acidity of Lambic beers blends perfectly with raspberries. Served in a flute, this Framboise has magnificent aroma, a delicate palate of raspberries with undertones of fruity acidity and an elegant, sparkling natural taste. 4 ABV.
This pale blonde and slightly malty brew feels delivers a warming shot of alcohol that warms your tongue and palate. Your taste buds will experience — beyond that initial jolt — a well-rounded and complex beer that fully lives up to it near legendary status. The aftertaste is strong, long-lasting and dry bitter. RateBeer.com 94 points. 8.5 ABV
The the higher alcohol content suggests complexity and intensity usually reserved for the finest of wines. Attesting to the innate mystery and intensity of a cellar-aging beer is this brew’s beautiful ruby brown, almost henna color. With a light-brown, velvety head and sweet, powerful notes of wood, yeast, and plums, the Cuvee surprises with subtle hints of caramel and even fresh green apples. Be certain to breathe in its fruity, delicate aroma that complements a richly roasted malted, yet softly dense body. A best of class favorite with 100 points from RateBeer.com. 11 ABV.
Rodenbach Brewery is renowned for its sour beers in the traditional Flanders red style. With Fruitage, the brewer blends 25 percent aged Rodenbach (2-year matured beer from oak standing Foeders) with 75 percent young Rodenbach ale, with added cherries and elderberries. Fruitage is light and refreshing, perfect for easy drinking and to be enjoyed year-round. 4.2 ABV.
Any beer traveler will wax poetically about having a pint pulled at any one of Great Britain’s bustling pubs. Bring that tradition home with one of these brews from the English tradition:
Traditionally brewed with Chocolate and Crystal malts and a blend of Styrian, Goldings & Fuggles hops to produce a full-bodied, ruby beer that delivers a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavor, balanced with a rounded moderate bitterness and an overall fruity, mischievous character. 5.2 ABV.
The walnut or hazelnut notes in Nut Brown Ale come from dark malts and from fermentation in Yorkshire Squares – no nuts are used in the recipe! Dry, medium-bodied; the Sam Smith ale yeast strain gives a fruity note to the finish. 5 ABV.
Since its introduction, this stout from legendary Samuel Smith has taken beer drinkers by storm. With an impressive 96 point score from RateBeer.com, this organic stout is full bodied with roasted barley flavors. Fruity notes from the Samuel Smith yeast strain support a lush chocolate aroma, taste and finish. 5 ABV.
The master brewers at the old brewery in Tadcaster created a masterpiece when they brought this magnificent, yes, magnificent, beer to the public. Another RateBeer.com love child with currently 99 points! It pours almost opaque, with an unusually silky texture and complex, medium-dry velvet palate. Bittersweet finish. 5 ABV.
Looking for a brew that’s steeped in tradition? Go no further than this Kolsch, which is brewed in the Cologne area under the auspices of a brewer’s guild that has existed since 1396. Kolsch is typically lighter than Pilsner, with a soft, malty palate and a clean, dry finish.
Originally brewed at a monastery in northern Italy, “double bock” was quickly introduced by Bavarian brewers to compete with bock. Doppelbock names end with the suffix “-ator.” Celebrator has a creamy head of tight bubbles contrasting beautifully with its profound dark robe. It is full-bodied and velvety from half a year’s aging. A rich, dark elixir with cascading layers of malt complexity balanced by elegant hops. Notes of toffee, caramel, elegant dark-malt roastiness, and pure malt. Pinpoint conditioning and semi-dry finish. Ratebeer.com gives it 100 points. 6.7 ABV.