Old World Beers to Try Now

Experimental American brews are at the forefront of the international beer scene these days. With so many creative new styles and riffs with unexpected flavors to try, it’s easy to forget iconic imports that have been around forever. During this season of tradition and indulgence, let’s not forget some of the classics that paved the way. These benchmark brews will please any beer history nerd on your gift list.

Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale
This Tadcaster ale is as British as they come. No nuts were harmed in the making of its exquisite nutty profile. Opening with aromatics dominated by lightly roasted malt and toffee notes, the amber-colored easy drinker finishes on the drier side. Mild fruit, caramel and an earthy bitter finish round out the malt-worshippers’ dream.

$4.50. Available at Friar Tuck.

Trappistes Rochefort 10
Brewed by the Trappist monks of Rochefort Abbey, this granddaddy of all Belgian quads is quite possibly one of the most beautifully crafted beers to come out of the popular region. It pours a deep burgundy, almost black in color, and smells of dried fruit, caramel sweetness and alcohol. Vibrant notes of plum, raisin and cherry blend with the rich texture, malt sweetness and alcohol warmth on the palate.

$6. Available at Fields Foods.

Guinness Draught
It doesn’t have to be St. Paddy’s Day to enjoy this creamy nitrogenated beauty. Aromatics rich with coffee and chocolate are followed by a heavily roasted, malt-forward flavor palate, all balanced by the velvety rich texture characteristic of those tiny little nitrogen bubbles. The world needs more nitro beer.

Prices vary. Available at Dierbergs.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
A centuries-old German beer from the world’s oldest brewery (operating for nearly 1,000 years!), this unfiltered wheat beer exudes the stereotypical yeast-forward aroma of banana and clove. Straw yellow and medium-bodied, it has a characteristic fluffiness that drives flavors of citrus, spice and grain across the palate. Add a citrus wedge if you’re feeling festive.

Six-pack: $12. Available at Randall’s.

Vielle Provision Saison Dupont
This benchmark Belgian farmhouse ale is complex and mildly funky. Traditionally brewed as the thirst-quenching accouterment of the farmhand’s lunch break, this medium-bodied beer pours a hazy golden color and has a fruity, barnyard, yeast-forward nose. Flavor evolves from mild fruit and grain to light herbal notes and black pepper, finishing on the dry side.

$8. Available at The Wine & Cheese Place.

Pilsner Urquell
This radiant archetypal Czech Pilsner has left drinkers wanting more since 1842. A few good inches of frothy head emit a floral and crusty bread aroma, while the initial taste of grain and malt sweetness increases as the beer travels from glass to mid-palate. True to form, this lady finishes with a refreshingly clean Saaz hop bitterness.

Six-pack: $8. Available at Lukas Wine & Spirits.