The country’s in a recession and I’m recommending a $35 bottle of beer, said Eric Asimov in The New York Times. “What? Am I insane?” Normally, that would be a possible explanation. But the unpasteurized, unfiltered, limited-edition vintage ale brewed by Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes in Switzerland is a perfect example of the brewer’s art—superbly complex, “bright in the mouth,” bracing, and tart. It ranked first in a recent tasting by a Times panel of 25 beers that are aged, like some wines and whiskeys, in oak barrels. Our top five:
Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes 2006 Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, Switzerland (11 percent alcohol; 25.4 oz, $34.95) “Bracing and complex,” with refreshing tart spice and sour fruit flavors.
Pennichuck 2008 Pozharnik Espresso Russian Imperial Stout, Milford, N.H. (10 percent alcohol; 33.8 oz, $17.95) A balanced, full-bodied stout with flavors of coffee and bitter chocolate.
Bavik Petrus Aged Pale, Belgium (7.3 percent alcohol, 11.2 oz, $3.50) “Best value. Golden, complex, and refreshing.”
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja Amber Ale, Dexter, Mich. (7.2 percent alcohol; 25.4 oz, $9.50) Robust, carbonated, funky.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton Imperial India Pale Ale Milton, Del. (10 percent alcohol; 12 oz, $4.60) A cloudy ale with a sweet malt and hoppy flavor.
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