Everyone has that one thing that they can’t believe isn’t a bigger deal. Maybe it’s your favorite band you think everyone should know, or a restaurant that’s never as busy as it deserves to be. These underrated jewels are precious, which makes it tempting not to let others in on what feels like a special secret. But sharing these underrated pleasures opens the door for others to understand why we love this thing that they’ve never heard of so much —and when they do, it may change their life.
Beer styles are no exception, and brewers are the best in the business when it comes to lifting up under-the-radar brews. That’s why we asked 11 brewers to share their most underrated brews. These styles aren’t often in regular rotation, but they’ve struck a chord with the people who know beer the best. From ales highlighting wild yeast strains to dark Czech lagers that are an ode to a dark malt, these are the beers that brewers feel are the most underrated.
American wild and mixed fermentation ales
Dark Czech lagers
“American wild and mixed fermentation ales. American brewers have taken these otherwise Old World continental styles and pioneered new approaches to using funky yeasts and bacteria, sometimes using heirloom grains or foraged fauna or extended aging in various wooden vessels — all in ways that invoke a truly novel American terroir. The average craft beer consumer sleeps on these styles, so they’re largely undertaken as passion projects within a large brewery or dedicated mixed fermentation breweries with relatively small distribution footprints. I feel they’re kept alive by the handful of consumers who, like myself, can’t get enough. You can spend a lot of time unpacking these beers and the immense effort and often several years of time that goes into crafting and blending them. Maybe it’s that immense effort, time, and space it all requires that keeps these programs small, but it certainly would not hurt to see their popularity and production grow.” —Chris Langguth, head brewer, Pig Minds Brewing Co, Machesney Park, Ill.
“British bitter. Most don’t even know it’s a style, but [just believe it to be] a description.” —Chris Lohring, founder and brewer, Notch Brewing, Salem, Mass.
“There are a great many styles I’ve enjoyed brewing over the years, but the one that I think people have lost interest or appreciation for that really deserves to be highlighted is the saison. [It has] broad range in ABV and intriguing spice and fruit qualities derived from yeast strains that are readily available, and can work with adjunct materials such as lemongrass with great results.” —Ryan Stick, production manager, Channel Side Brewing, Tampa, Fla.
“Dark beers don’t get enough love. Not stouts, we all love stouts — I’m talking dark lagers, black IPAs, and black saisons. Roasted malt imparts a unique dimension to hop profiles and yeast. It would be great to experience more beer styles brewed with dark malts, as even a small amount can have a significant impact. Looking down at a pint of dark beer is like staring down into the abyss, and who wouldn’t love that in a glass?”—Robyn G. Weise, brewer, Talea Beer Co., Brooklyn
“There are several beer styles that brewers love and are constantly struggling to brew and get them into the taproom. Out of those styles, rauchbier is perhaps the most underrated. With its delicate balance of smoke and maltiness, smooth creamy foam, and medium-to-high carbonation, it’s a versatile style that can be drunk throughout the year regardless of weather, pairs well with a wide range of cuisines and flavors, and works as a palate cleanser. When you find a brewery that brews it, it’s usually very well made because it’s a style that doesn’t have much commercial appeal, but instead a small hard-core fan base that knows what to look for and what to expect.” —Rafael D’Armas, brewer, Kings County Brewers Collective, Brooklyn
“In my humble opinion the most underrated beer style is definitely the brown ale. You get the malty, roasted flavors that come with darker beers but not the heaviness or too much sweetness. It would make my day if I walked into a bar or brewery and could guarantee a brown ale on tap.” —Jessie Floyd, assistant brewer, Greenpoint Beer & Ale, Brooklyn
“As a single genre, I think the most underrated beers are amber lagers: Bavarian dark lager, Märzen, Czech interpretations, etc. More generally, [anything within] nine to 35 on the SRM scale is underrated, so basically everything in the amber to ruby and chestnut brown color range. Beer people love them, [but] from a technical point of view, they’re difficult to produce, nuanced, and heavily influenced by producers’ usage of ingredients. Some use malt primarily for color noted in many of the Czech-German interpretations, while others use inverted sugar to convey flavor and color in the British-Belgian tradition and arrive at a similar color, but with a very different flavor profile. [While] heavily underrepresented, they’re showcased by modern industry leaders such as Dovetail, Wheatland Spring, Schilling, and Bluejacket. Boiling down to a singular beer, I’d go with Georg, a dark Bavarian lager. It has notes of dark bread, toasted bread crust, a touch of caramel, and a medium body that’s almost silky on the tongue. Not only is it a showcase of skill, but a beer enjoyed by everyone!” —Mike Pawley, co-founder and owner, Sojourn Fermentory, Suffolk, Va.
“If we’re talking underrated beers, Grodziskies are at the top of my list. The balance of oak-smoked wheat and effervescence is unique, but remarkably crushable. Gentle smoke against crisp carbonation likens the style to Champagne, and the apple and pear esters really seal the deal for me. I’ve truly never had one I did not enjoy. Grodziskies find a way to be both crafty and accessible to craft beer newcomers.” —Emily Hall, innovation brewer, Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn
“Dark Czech lager is one of my favorites to have on tap from any brewery I go to if they offer it. There is a large range of interpretation to that style that makes it unique from place to place. When done well, you find that balance between dark roasted malts, Munich malts, chocolate, raisin, and fig notes. There is a ton of body from the Munich and caramel malts, but also it has a high amount of drinkability. This style is also one of my favorite styles of beers to make. and is one of the more labor-intensive ones we release every year, which makes it that much more rewarding when it’s finally ready for packaging.” —Geo Bauman, production manager/lead brewer, Commonwealth Brewing Co., Fairfax, Va.
“I think that brown ales are super underrated! I know that everyone makes fun of them, but I still remember crushing Cigar City Vanilla Maduro on nitro, and that beer was incredible. Another classic is the Brooklyn Brown. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I like the malt and nutty profile, and generally a mid-to-low ABV. Hope to see some classic styles becoming more popular again, although I don’t think that style will ever convince the marketing team.” —Molly Flynn, brewer, Tripping Animals Brewery, Miami
“I would say it’s hefeweizen, the original hazy! It’s just so unique, versatile, and full of flavor, but also drinkable. It has virtually no hop flavor, which is a nice break, and the spicy and fruity flavors the yeast produce find just the perfect balance. Although frowned upon in Germany, it’s a great base beer to experiment with adjuncts, too! It’s just an overall fun beer to make and drink, and there seems to be few styles that have both those qualities nowadays.” —Theo Castillo, founder and brewer, No Seasons, Miami
*Image retrieved from Kristen via stock.adobe.com
The article We Asked 11 Brewers: What’s the Most Underrated Beer? (2024) appeared first on VinePair.