The Beers to Drink Before You Die
Phil Kuhl of Fountainhead
1. Dark Horse Tres
Stout. The third in Dark Horse’s stout series. Tres is a full bodied stout with all malted barley and blueberries. It has a hearty chocolate and roasted malt flavor, with light blueberry flavors on the palate and tons of blueberry on the nose.
2. Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
An American Wheat, a big hoppy wheat ale. Smooth mouth feel with a nice citrus hop flavor and aroma. If Three Floyd’s Gumballhead had a big brother it would be Sumpin’ Sumpin’.
3. Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus
This dry raspberry lambic is very tart, not sweetened with sugar or syrup like most Framboise. Fresh raspberries are fermented in oak casks by wild yeasts borne in the open air.
4. Southern Tier PumKing
Spiced Ale. If you like pumpkin pie and big spiced brown ales, this imperial pumpkin ale is hands down the best there is. ‘nough said.
5. Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze
Lambic, as traditional a geuze as they come. They use only 100% spontaneously fermented lambic beer, aged in oak casks, with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. This is the most complex and tart Geuze I’ve ever had.
6. Three Floyds Gorch Fock
Helles Lager. This noble hopped, refreshing ‘Pale’ lager was the first of the true to German-style beers Floyds now brews, and is my personal favorite of all their beers. I know, I know, Dark Lord and Dreadnaught are great… but, I’ll take a fresh Gorch Fock over those in a heartbeat.
7. Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
Black I.P.A.. Self Righteous is a double hopped I.P.A. in the somewhat newer style, Black I.P.A.. Using dark malt instead of pale malt, these I.P.A.’s have a nice roasty malt backbone. Maybe we should call them I.B.A.’s?
8. Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
Wild Ale. This is the beer that single-handedly got me into sour ales. Noel de Calabaza or Christmas of the Pumpkin is a malty, spiced, belgian-style dark farmhouse sour/wild ale. Reminiscent of mulled cider, it has hints of dried fruits.
9. Meantime Chocolate
This porter is perfect in its subtlety. The dark malts softly melt into flavors of warm, dark bitter chocolate. So, many chocolate or coffee beers are so over the top, it’s nice to enjoy hints of chocolate not a whole chocolate bar in glass.
10. New Belgium Eric’s Ale
Named after my friend and brewer Eric Salazar, Eric’s is a golden sour beer aged up to three years in oak foeders and is re-fermented with peach juice. This is a refreshing summer sour with big peach and tropical flavors, hints of oak and vanilla and a spicy dry finish.
11. Fitger’s Brewhouse Big Boat
My favorite brewpub in the country is the Brewhouse at Fitger’s in Duluth, Minnesota. Big Boat is a dense oatmeal stout with notes of dark chocolate, plums, vanilla bean, and strong coffee and is best enjoyed while listening to local blues hero, Charlie Parr.
12. St Feuillien Saison
There are a lot of great Saisons out there, like Fantôme and Dupont, but St-Feuillien’s Saison is the epitome of a farmhouse ale. Soft mouthfeel, golden blonde hue, with warm complex flavors of banana, cloves, orange peel, a hint of ginger, and plenty of terroir.
13. Surly Darkness
This a huge and complex Russian Imperial Stout. As dark and thick as motor oil, the big chocolate, cherries, coffee, and toffee flavors melt into hints of cherries at the finish and just when you think its done you get an after-after taste of dried fruits and raisins.
14. Avery Karma
My favorite summer seasonal is from Avery. Inspired by Belgian Farmhouse Ales, Karma is a pale ale with a unique Belgian yeast strain that gives this 5.2% ABV session beer it’s fruity and estery notes.
15. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Most of you have heard of their Breakfast Stout & KBS, Founders took it a step farther, aging Breakfast Stout in Kentucky whiskey barrels that were used by a small Michigan maple syrup maker. The result is huge maple flavors so well blended with the hints of vanilla, whiskey, chocolate and coffee, I want to pour it on my pancakes.
16. Furthermore Knot Stock
An American pale ale infused with black pepper. This is such a great food beer. The pepper is subtle and could almost be confused for spiceness from the hops if you didn’t know they used cracked pepper.
17. Allagash Interlude
Interlude is a big dark Belgian-style strong ale with two yeast strains, a Belgian farmhouse yeast and Brettanomyces. Aged in Merlots and Sirahs French oak wine barrels. The red wine notes along with funky wild flavors from the Brett combine well with hints of pear, apricot, and plum.
18.Vanberg & DeWulf’s Lambrucha
This remarkable thirst-quencher is a blend of hand-selected lambics that are at minimum one year old, and batches of specially brewed organic Belgian Kombucha, a fermented tea. Together these two living yeast beverages make for a 3.5% alcohol by volume, refreshingly tart Belgian “Lawnmower Beer.” It reminds me of Berliner Weisse 1809 or Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche, a “Belgianer Weisse.”
19. Twin Sisters, Left Hand
Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of Imperial I.P.A.’s, Russian River’s Pliny and Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum, but Twin Sister’s the one for me. As with all of Left Hand’s beers, balance is the key here. Twin Sisters hides its 9.4 ABV% well and makes it far too easy to drink with its floral and grapefruit hops aromas and its honey, pine, citrus flavors. Two Girls Are Better Than None!!
20. Half Acre Gossamer
This dry-hopped blonde ale is the beer I drink more than any other beer. It also goes with just about any food, even Cheerio’s. At 4.2% ABV, it is the perfect session beer, thirst quencher. The Brewery is .4 miles away from our bar, Fountainhead. It’s always fresh, whether it’s on draft, or out of a 16oz can. This is my go-to beer.
Phil entered the beer world in 2003 as a server and bartender at the Goose Island Brew Pub in Wrigleyville. It was there that he first learned about the brewing process and was first exposed to many different brewing styles. Phil went on to become the beer buyer for Sheffield’s, eventually opening The Beer School in the esteemed bar’s back room. Phil now acts as the Beer Director and Manager for Fountainhead, Chicago’s newest beer bar, and is a certified Cicerone.