The Best of Peter King's Beernerdness

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Monday July 24th, 2017

It all began on Dec. 19, 2010, with an afterthought note at the end of one of Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback columns:

“Debuting the new category today, by popular demand. I won’t use it every week, because there will be some weeks when I have either no beer or boring beer and won’t waste your time. This week was a good week for beer variety, because I had the weirdest-named beer of my life (Clown Shoes Brewery Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber Ale, from Massachusetts—a little yeasty for me) and, at an airport bar in Dallas, had my first Lone Star longneck in 20 or so years. I’m not a beer snob. When I’m writing, as I was at the airport, a light, simple beer like Lone Star is perfect. But the beer of the week goes to Ommegang Witte wheat ale, with a lemon, from a brewery in Cooperstown, N.Y. Took me back to summer for a few sips. Very good.”

The weekly note, at the end of 10 Things I Think I Think, was called Beernerdness, a nod to Coffeenerdness, King’s other beverage obsession and long-time column staple. In fact, King recalls one of his motivations for starting the weekly libation notation was because his coffee selections were beginning to become stale.

“I go through like two-year phases where I’ll have the same drip coffee or have the same order at a coffee shop,” King says. “I don’t have a lot of variety with coffee, but I do with beer. Any time I travel to a city, I enjoy trying a new beer from the local area. So I decided to note them.”

Seven years and more than 300 hops-heavy notes later, Beernerdness has become an MMQB column favorite. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck revealed himself a fan of the section, and King’s Twitter mentions are filled with readers sending him notes of what beer they’re trying. (Allagash White, King’s favorite beer, is frequently mentioned.)

There has never been a formal collection of the Beernerdness selections, but that changes today. Below are listings, separated by state, of King’s picks from the past year. We’ll update with more notes from previous years, and turn it into a living archive by posting King’s choices each week. So bookmark this page and enjoy the beers, responsibly...

AMERICAN BEERS

Arizona

Papago Orange Blossom Mandarin Wheat: Controversial choice this week. I’ve been a fan of the vague, mild fruit tinge to a wheat beer. But this one, Orange Blossom Mandarin Wheat (Papago Brewing, Scottsdale, Ariz.) has a more pronounced orange taste—and it’s fantastic. Maybe that’s because I had it on a broiling day watching Rangers-Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. (Come now: What kind of name is that for a spring training park?) But it’s been a while since I had such a refreshing, distinctive beer. —PK (April 3, 2017)

Four Peaks Peach Ale: Tempe Diablo Stadium is the perfect spot for a ballgame on a 79-degree sunny day, in part because of the beer stand between home and third base. That Four Peaks Brewing Peach Ale (Tempe, Ariz.) is a gem. A fruit-infused beer is only good when it’s not overwhelming, and this peach ale has a hint, a whiff, of Arizona peach (native peaches, the brewery says) in a low-alcohol, easy-drinking ale. Very nice. —PK (March 27, 2017)

Four Peaks White Ale: A gem from Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, Ariz.: The White Ale, with local citrus and local wheat. Not sure if that’s why it’s really good, and a real rival to Allagash White. But this is a ridiculously good and tasty beer. —PK (Oct. 31, 2016)

CALIFORNIA

Saint Archer White Ale: Before a Dodgers game with my editor Dom Bonvissuto and his family, we pre-gamed at Mohawk Bend, a craft beer pub (72 taps) in the Echo Park neighborhood of L.A., in the shadow of Dodger Stadium. You know me and the white ales. I had a glass of the St. Archer White Ale (St. Archer Brewing, San Diego) and was quite pleased with its light and flavorful taste. It’s worth a glass this summer if you run into it. —PK (May 29, 2017)

Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale: Never one to shy away from an ale or witbier with a dash of fruit, I tried the Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.). Many of these beers overpower with orange or raspberry or whatever, but this one was just right. Very nice beer. —PK (Feb. 20, 2017)

HenHouse Saison: Had a very interesting Saison while in San Francisco: HenHouse Saison (HenHouse Brewing, Petaluma, Calif.) is almost a light beer, eminently drinkable with a different flavor from that of many Saisons. It’s not often a Saison seems a summer beer, but this one is. Spicy too. I’ll be back, HenHouse. —PK (Jan. 2, 2017)

Drake’s Hefeweizen: Tried the Drake’s Hefeweizen recently (Drake’s Brewery, San Leandro, Calif.). It’s no Allagash White, but it does have the light feel and strong witbier taste, improved by a small lemon slice. —PK (Dec. 19, 2016)

Hangar 24 Orange Wheat: Hangar 24 Orange Wheat (Hangar 24 Brewery, Redlands, Calif.) isn’t quite Allagash White, but it’s a fine beer. The taste is different, only slightly orange-tasting and not overwhelming. —PK (Oct. 24, 2016)

Lost Coast Great White Beer: While visiting my daughter in San Francisco over the weekend, I tried Great White Beer (Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, Calif.), and was a little disappointed. I’m a big witbier guy, and this one was nothing special. Not a bad beer, and not skunky, but just plain. —PK (Sept. 5, 2016)

Coronado Orange Ave. Wit: Had the Orange Ave. Wit (Coronado Brewing Company, Coronado, Calif.) at Petco Park and really enjoyed it. The mark of a good witbier with a touch of fruit is that the fruit doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the beer, and this doesn’t. Smooth and flavorful. Regarding my two hours at Petco: I have never seen so many craft beers in one place in my life. Nowhere else in America is this more true: The game ticket is basically a cover charge for $13 beers. —PK (Aug. 22, 2016)

Refuge Blood Orange Wit: Found myself in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on a business trip last week, and I saw a witbier on the menu: Blood Orange Wit, from Refuge Brewery in Temecula, Calif. Delicious. Fairly light, with a good bit of hops and coriander and citrus. —PK (July 25, 2016)

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CONNECTICUT

Two Roads Workers Comp Farmhouse Ale: Strongly recommend Two Roads Worker’s Comp Farmhouse Ale (Two Roads Brewing, Stratford, Conn.), a classic saison with a good bite.—PK (May 22, 2017)

DELAWARE

Dogfish Head Namaste: I re-tried Namaste, the witbier from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Del.), and I was glad I did. With a tiny slice of lemon, it’s perfect any time of year. Better in the summer, but I’m getting a little cranky about heavy beers at any time, and so the Namaste was terrific in an Allagash White kind of way. —PK (Jan. 9, 2017)

GEORGIA

Monday Night Fu ManBrew: One overriding thought about the quality of beer on this two-week tour so far—the quality of craft beer in this country is utterly fantastic. There’s been Titletown Brewery in Green Bay; Upland in Indiana; Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale, from Asheville, N.C.; Fu ManBrew witbier (Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta); and Love Street Kolsch Style Blonde, from Karbach Brewing here in Houston … All you brewers, please take a bow. You’ve helped make this trip fun, with so many options in virtually every camp stop we make. Dinners are fun when you’ve got so many choices for a pregamer. —PK (Aug. 8, 2016)

INDIANA

Upland Wheat Ale: “The Indiana beer scene is crazy!” Andrew Luck said the other day. (Among other things, including the fact that he doesn’t read the top of this column, but does enjoy other parts of it. “That Mr. Starwood Note, I like those,” he revealed exclusively. “And the beernerdness.”) Anyway, Luck reeled off six or eight Indiana breweries he liked (3 Floyds, SunKing and Upland were the ones I recalled), and I had the pleasure of trying the Upland Wheat Ale (Upland Brewery, Bloomington, Ind.) Thursday night. A true gem. Normally, with wheat beers, I like a lemon or orange slice, but this one’s terrific right out of the bottle. —PK (Aug. 1, 2016)

LOUISIANA

Covington Kolsch: Covington Kolsch (Covington Brewhouse, Covington, La.) is the king of German-heritage beer I don’t find often enough—a wheat ale with a very clean finish. Very tasty. There’s been a rise of craft-beer culture in Louisiana that goes beyond Abita, and Covington’s probably the best of the other beermakers. —PK (Nov. 21, 2016)

MAINE

Allagash White

It is a national sensation, Allagash White (Allagash Brewing, Portland, Maine). How do I know? After the first day of the draft, in a restaurant/club area of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., I was shocked to see it on the menu, and of course I took advantage of this little lost beer 3,000 miles from home. —PK (May 1, 2017)

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MASSACHUSETTS

Mystic Table Beer: What a beer list at Eastern Standard, the restaurant around the corner and just down the street from Fenway Park. Peerless. Mystic Table Beer (Mystic Brewery, Chelsea, Mass.) was my choice, a saison, and it didn’t disappoint. Very flavorful, easy to drink, with a slight citrus and light-alcohol (4.3 percent) taste and feel. Delicious. —PK (April 10, 2017)

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Beer Hudson Pale Ale: Found a gem the other night at De Novo, a wonderful bistro with small and large plates in our old home of Upper Montclair, N.J. We took the train out for dinner with friends, and I asked what Jersey beers they had on tap. “Hudson Pale Ale,” the waiter said. “Hoppy, but not over-hoppy.” Well, he was right. Hudson Pale Ale (New Jersey Beer Company, North Bergen, N.J.—near the Lincoln Tunnel) is a tremendously drinkable, smooth tasting pale ale with a distinctive light-hopped taste. I was taking the train home, so I had another. Great example of how many excellent craft beers there are, everywhere. —PK (March 20, 2017)

NEW YORK

Empire Aphro White: Tried the Empire Aphro White (Empire Brewing Company, Syracuse, N.Y.) and struggled to put my finger on what exactly was different about this veteran of the New York witbiers. It had an odd taste, very different and almost spicy to the point of a mixed drink ... so I looked it up on the Empire website, and there it was: lavender. Not a fan of lavender in my beer. It’s just an odd taste that overwhelms. This is odd, because I love coriander, which is a major feature of Allagash White and many other white beers. But I’m a fan of Empire, and my feeling about the Aphro White won’t cause me to abandon the rest of the line. Their Cream Ale is really good. —PK (Nov. 14, 2016)

Montauk Summer Ale: One of the best (lighter) summer beers I’ve had: Montauk Summer Ale (Montauk Brewing Company, Montauk, N.Y.), out of the can, and a fine can it is—silver and Carolina blue. I’m not a fan of heavy beers this time of year, and this one’s perfect, an ale that’s got a strong ale taste but is easy to drink. Highly recommended. —PK (Aug. 29, 2016)

Flagship Pastime Summer Ale: One of my top June beers is Pastime Summer Ale (Flagship Brewing, Staten Island, N.Y.). It is terrific and has such a unique taste. —PK (June 27, 2016)

Greenport Harbor Beehave Summer Ale: Another of my top June beers is Beehave Summer Ale (Greenport Harbor Brewing, Greenport, N.Y.). It’s a blonde ale with a speck of honey, and delicious. —PK (June 27, 2016)

NORTH CAROLINA

Blueridge Blueberry Wheat: We went with the professor in the baseball class, Matt Andrews, for a Blueridge Blueberry Wheat beer at TOPO (Top of the Hill). Now that is one crisp and not overwhelmingly fruity wheat beer, an absolute treat on a hot Chapel Hill day. —PK (April 24, 2017)

Appalachian Mountain Boone Creek Blonde: I hit a home run for my Thanksgiving beer. A grand slam. On a recent walk through the Charlotte airport (I love that airport and a couple of the restaurants), I found a checkout at one of the restaurants that allows you to buy Carolina beers. Well, hello. So there was a tall boy in the case from Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone, N.C., a beer called Boone Creek Blonde. And was that one great beer. Not good. Great. The can said it hints of honey and orange zest, which was true, and both contributed to a superb clean taste. Really good. This is good too, on the side of the can: “Proceeds from every can support the revitalization of our mountains and rivers.” Glad to help. Please keep making that Blonde. I’ll be back for more when I’m through the Carolinas. —PK (Nov. 28, 2016)

Foothills Torch Pilsner: Had a Foothills Torch Pilsner (Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, N.C.) waiting for a plane in the Charlotte Airport the other day. Typical European pilsner, I thought, with a little bit more of a Pilsner Urquell kind of finish. A pleasant way to pass 25 minutes. —PK (Sept. 19, 2016)

Catawba Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale: One overriding thought about the quality of beer on this two-week tour so far—the quality of craft beer in this country is utterly fantastic. There’s been Titletown Brewery in Green Bay; Upland in Indiana; Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale, from Catawba Brewing in Asheville, N.C.; Fu ManBrew witbier (Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta); and Love Street Kolsch Style Blonde, from Karbach Brewing here in Houston … All you brewers, please take a bow. You’ve helped make this trip fun, with so many options in virtually every camp stop we make. Dinners are fun when you’ve got so many choices for a pregamer. —PK (Aug. 8, 2016)

OHIO

Christian Moerlein Seven Hefeweizen: Thanks to Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati for hosting our team for a Tweetup on Wednesday evening. Great to see fans of The MMQB come out to talk football with us. Good beer too. (You know there’s an ulterior motive for me when we schedule a Tweetup; it’s to try beers like the Christian Moerlein Seven Hefeweizen. Delightful and light for this time of year.) The hospitality and scene were tremendous. Thanks to all. —PK (Aug. 15, 2016)

Weasel Boy Mango Wheat: Driving from Latrobe, Pa., to Cincinnati after Tuesday’s Steelers joint practices, I thought going halfway would be about right, with the last 2.5 hours of the journey set for Wednesday morning. Halfway was Zanesville, Ohio, on I-70, east of Columbus and maybe 150 miles northeast of Cincinnati. My videographer, John DePetro, and I made it known on Twitter that we were stopping in Zanesville for the evening, and two folks tweeted back that we should stop at Weasel Boy Brewing, a brewpub in an out-of-the-way old brick building in the city. Of course, we did; who can turn down the chance to try a good Mango Wheat at such a distinctive-sounding place? A charming, homey place, where the locals have their own ceramic beer mugs, made in Zanesville, and the bartender, Andie, washes them out between each serving. Just a cool place, and John and I took a photo with Andie to commemorate our half-hour at Weasel Boy. —PK (Aug. 15, 2016)

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OREGON

pFriem Wit: Took a recent family vacation throughout Oregon. I enjoyed the pFriem Wit (pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, Ore.), light and flavorful, on the first night there. The beer scene in Portland is special. Ran by this place in a neighborhood near downtown, and I knew I had to come back: Hair of the Dog Brewery. That became lunch one day (fish sandwich with Ruth American Ale). Sometimes, the name catches you. The beer at 10 Barrel Brewing (I tried Boise 150 Blonde, excellent and hoppy) was as good as the street scene outside. The beer visits are limited only by the length of your stay. There are 116 breweries in the city or within a hour’s drive. —PK (June 12, 2017)

PENNSYLVANIA

Full Pint White Lightning: Excellent to see the spread of white beers around the country. Tried Full Pint White Lightning (Full Pint Brewing, North Versailles, Pa.) in Pittsburgh the other night and liked it a lot. —PK (Jan. 30, 2017)

Full Pint Festivus Winter Warmer

Full Pint Brewing Festivus Winter Warmer (Full Pint Brewing, North Versailles, Pa.) was the pre-flight 12-ouncer (not even a pint) at Greater Pittsburgh Airport on Wednesday on my way to see my grandchild. I mean, how can you not drink a beer called Festivus if you’re a Seinfeld devotee? It wasn’t the beer of the year, but it did warm and was a nice winter beer, complete with a cinnamon/nutmeg tinge that tastes great in frigid weather. —PK (Jan. 16, 2017)

SOUTH CAROLINA

R.J. Rockers Son of a Peach Wheat Ale: For repeat customers … I got lucky and found myself in a place that had Son of a Peach Wheat Ale (R.J. Rockers Brewing Company, Spartanburg, S.C.), and if that’s not the best wheat beer with a vague hint of fruit that I’ve had, I can’t think of a rival. Such a pleasant, tasty, refreshing beer. Thanks for making it, R.J. Rockers. And I repeat: The microbrew scene in the Carolinas is superior to most areas of the country, and that’s something I’d never have thought. —PK (Dec. 5, 2016)

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TEXAS

Live Oak Hefeweizen: Live Oak Hefeweizen (Live Oak Brewing Company, Austin, Texas) was the hidden gem of Super Bowl week. I was fortunate to have two mugs of it Thursday night at the Hay Merchant in Houston, and I will just say it will be on my very short list of beers to pursue when I next travel to Texas. —PK (Feb. 13, 2017)

St. Arnold White Noise: St. Arnold White Noise (St. Arnold Brewery, Houston) was my beer of choice Thursday night. That is such a cool brewery to visit … and it is such a good beer, a Belgian witbier (okay, I am partial to those) growing in popularity. —PK (Feb. 6, 2017)

St. Arnold Lawnmower: Houston, Saturday night, Doubletree Hotel Greenway, bar, turkey burger with SI photographer Robert Beck. I order the St. Arnold Lawnmower. He orders the same. We’re happy. Beer is hoppy. Houston beer scene is ridiculously good. This is a light summer beer, with a little wheat taste. —PK (Sept. 12, 2016)

Karbach Love Street Blonde: One overriding thought about the quality of beer on this two-week tour so far—the quality of craft beer in this country is utterly fantastic. There’s been Titletown Brewery in Green Bay; Upland in Indiana; Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale, from Asheville, N.C.; Fu ManBrew witbier (Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta); and Love Street Blonde, from Karbach Brewing here in Houston … All you brewers, please take a bow. You’ve helped make this trip fun, with so many options in virtually every camp stop we make. Dinners are fun when you’ve got so many choices for a pregamer. —PK (Aug. 8, 2016)

VERMONT

Harpoon Peter King Wit: Well, I can now say I have lived a full and wonderful life. A grandchild one week, a beer named after me the next. The fine people at Harpoon Brewing (Boston and Windsor, Vt.) have produced a beer after my own heart, a witbier, and put it on tap at a few spots on trial in greater Boston. Thanks to Mike Nadeau for pointing it out on Twitter. This is what he saw on the beer menu at Five Horses Tavern in Somerville: “Harpoon Peter King Wit $7 … Pilot batch release. Classic interpretation of a Belgian style wit with coriander and orange peel, 5.93% (alcohol), 12 ounces.” —PK (Jan. 23, 2017)

VIRGINIA

Port City Optimal Wit: I’m not saying it matches Allagash White, but I had a wonderful witbier in Baltimore the other day: Optimal Wit of Port City Brewing Co. of Alexandria, Va. Man, so many great regional breweries in the country now. Impossible to experience all of them. Glad I got to sample a Port City beer. —PK (Sept. 26, 2016)

WISCONSIN

Lakefront White: Lakefront White (Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee) is the kind of easy-drinking and tasty Allagash-a-like (did you think I was going to pass on a good witbier in one of the great beer cities in the worlds?) that I really appreciated at the Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee. Really nice beer. —PK (May 15, 2017)

Hinterland Door County Cherry Wheat: You’re going to want to visit the LOCAL BREWS area of Miller Park, new this year on the mezzanine level. With two dozen Wisconsin craft beers and servers who know their beer and can give very smart advice, it’s a must-visit there. Plan on spending 40 minutes there, drinking one, sampling two, and taking a fourth away to your seat. You’ll be glad you did. My favorite: The Door County Cherry Wheat (Hinterland Brewing, Green Bay), fairly light and with a faint tart cherry taste. —PK (May 15, 2017)

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Hinterland Luna Coffee Stout: I’m not a big stout or porter guy. But at Hinterland Brewery on Wednesday night in Green Bay—there for a Tweetup with The MMQB’s Green Bay fans—I met Bill Tressler, who owns Hinterland, and he told me a story of a trip he made through Ireland a few years ago. He’s a lover of Guinness (who isn’t?), and went to Ireland in part to try all the other stouts there. And he came back experimenting a bit, and he came up with Luna Coffee Stout, with a hint of espresso. Sounded fairly tempting. So I had to try it. Tressler had it poured into a small glass, and it had the same look and texture of the Guinness-type foam on top. And the beer—phenomenal. A different taste, obviously, from Guinness, with the coffee tinge to it, but when I say tinge, I mean that. The coffee doesn’t overpower the texture or flavor of the stout. And I’m no stout authority, by any means. —PK (Dec. 12, 2016)

Titletown Brewery: One overriding thought about the quality of beer on this two-week tour so far—the quality of craft beer in this country is utterly fantastic. There’s been Titletown Brewery in Green Bay; Upland in Indiana; Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale, from Asheville, N.C.; Fu ManBrew witbier (Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta); and Love Street Kolsch Style Blonde, from Karbach Brewing here in Houston … All you brewers, please take a bow. You’ve helped make this trip fun, with so many options in virtually every camp stop we make. Dinners are fun when you’ve got so many choices for a pregamer. —PK (Aug. 8, 2016)

INTERNATIONAL BEERS

SCOTLAND

Pilot Blonde Ale: Had the Pilot Blonde Ale (Pilot Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland) in the Red Squirrel, a pub in the heart of Edinburgh, and really enjoyed it. A very hoppy ale, it's a darker blonde with a strong bite, and would do smashingly well on tap in a craft-crazy city like Denver or Seattle. —PK (April 17, 2017)

 

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