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Pick Six: Toppling Goliath’s Mike Saboe Shares Some Bright Corners of Inspiration

As Mike Saboe was embracing craft beer and homebrewing in the early ’00s, he sought far and wide for inspiration. Looking back now, as brewmaster at Toppling Goliath, he recounts six beers that had an outsized influence on his approach to everything from hop-forward beers to burly barrel-aged stouts.

Jamie Bogner Feb 17, 2023 - 14 min read

Pick Six: Toppling Goliath’s Mike Saboe Shares Some Bright Corners of Inspiration Primary Image

Illustration: Jamie Bogner

At Toppling Goliath in Decorah, Iowa, brewmaster Mike Saboe led the development of acclaimed beers such as juicy pale ale Pseudo Sue and the coveted barrel-aged stout Kentucky Brunch.

Once an avid geek and trader, Saboe still keeps a collection of empty bottles of beers that inspired him. “Every time I look at those bottles, that re-invokes the memories of the original experience that I had with that beer,” he says. “It helps me recall some of the things that I’ve researched or learned about those beers, and it just kind of gets the creative juices flowing.

“There were some absolutely fantastic, inspirational beers that I got to try, and you could just taste and feel that there was something special about them. You could tell that there were lifetimes of effort and skill that went into those. You always hope that you can help further that for the next generations of brewers—just to be able to put out something that’s significant to this world and be able to share that.”

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].