There are certain brewers who carry a competitive edge, where they can fully appreciate the beers made by others while thinking about improving their own. It’s through the attention to detail—not just on flavor but process—that beer gets better. Phil Wymore of Perennial Artisan Ales in St. Louis, Missouri, spent time on the brew decks and in the cellars of Goose Island Beer Company and Half Acre Beer Company before opening his own place. The beers he made during those times, as well as those encountered during extensive beer travels, informed his picks for this column.
One beer that he wanted to include (but couldn’t because Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® retired the selection from this column a few years ago due to its extreme popularity), Orval, is a beer that he tried to mimic in Matilda during his Goose Island days and would later encourage his own brewers to take a shot at when they were brewing. “It’s what I drink if it’s available,” he says. In fact, at a dinner in Colorado a few years ago at a place with an extensive bottle list and forty taps, Orval is the beer that every brewer at the table ordered. (That kind of reverence is why we officially retired the beer from this column.)
The beers on this list “are the ones that, if I see them on draft, I’m always going to drink because they are beers that I like to drink.”