Known simply as "Mr. Beer" in Greenville, South Carolina, Jon Richards is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server for The Growler Station who spends his days taste-testing various ales. In celebration of National Drink Beer Day on April 7th, Jon sat down with us to talk about his favorite under-the-radar brews. So pick up a bottle (or a couple dozen) and enjoy the quickly approaching day of socially acceptable obliteration.
Wild Turkey Bourbon Stout
"Anderson Valley specializes in reasonable strength beer. It has a huge oak and bourbon aroma, but don't be deceived; the flavor comes in with toffee, caramel, and vanilla, and then dries out with wood and a touch of charcoal smokiness."
Thomas Creek Conduplico Immundus Monachus
"It's a rich, chocolate-y, slightly fruity Belgian dark with a fairly substantial hop to keep the sweetness from getting out of order. If you can get your hands on a bottle, you won't be disappointed."
Brewery 85 Sweet Tea Sour
"It really does taste like sweet tea with lemon. And I'm not talking about some of the cotton candy sweet teas that show up in some of our diners or fast food drive-thru lanes; I mean something much closer to an Arnold Palmer. The aroma from the centennial hops really sticks the landing on creating a tea aroma as well."
Dogfish Head Piercing Pilsner
"The signature fresh floral aroma of Saaz hops and the smooth maltiness of a Czech-style pilsner are center stage, but stealing the show is the aroma and light touch of sweetness from the pear tea and juice. Light-bodied, amazingly crisp, and refreshing."
"It seems to be Maharaja's less well-known brother, but it's equally worth checking out. Much more pine, spruce, and forest flavors than its big brother, and a big, earthy, dank hop aroma to boot. A round, smooth maltiness does not overpower the dry hoppy finish, and the earthiness lingers."
Goose Island Pepe Nero
"It looks like a stout, and it tastes a bit like a stout, but it doesn't feel like a stout. While the beer has a nutty aroma, roasted malt flavors fill the palate and leave a peppery dry finish. There's just enough earthiness to remind you that it's also a saison at heart."
"At a respectable IPA strength of 6.8%, [Caldera Brewing Company] managed to cram 100 IBUs into this beauty. Mingled floral and citrus aromas greet you and the beer follows suit, adding a light-bodied but persistently sweet maltiness to keep the hops in check."
Quest Kermesse Pumpkin Saison
"A lightly sweet and meaty pumpkin flavor settles in first, followed by a dry, earthy finish. The pumpkin flavor manages to hold on into the aftertaste, leaving nutmeg and pumpkin pie flavoring."
Sierra Nevada/Russian River Brux
"With the carbonation and funk of Brettanomyces yeast, it's hard to mistake it for anything but a wild yeast beer, but Sierra Nevada/Russian River Brux has an array of flavors and aromas that win your attention. Fresh pear and apple fruitiness; grassy, floral, and signature barnyard aromas all play a part to complement a dry, effervescent, tart, and light-bodied brew.”
Thirsty Dog Wulver
"It lives in bourbon barrels for a solid 11 months, and the recipe is specifically made by Thirsty Dog for bourbon barrel aging. It has a big aroma full of molasses and bourbon, a big caramel-y, malty sweet body with something more than a touch of vanilla, and a long, burnt, caramelized sugar finish."