I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing about how 2016 was such a terrible year. Some really crappy things happened, for sure. But I’d rather spend my time thinking about 2017, and coming up with a plan to make it the best year ever. And that plan starts with tracking down some really great beer. There are some other aspects to my “Make 2017 Kick Ass” plan—some light cardio and a vague notion about eating healthier and meeting new people—but mostly the plan centers around good beer. So I came up with a list of 10 rare beers that are hard to find, but “out of this world” good. Some are legit whales, others are sleepers that get overshadowed by their more popular counterparts, but all of them are worthy of adding to your list of New Year’s Resolutions.
1 of 10
Marshal Zhukov's Penultimate Push
Hunahpu gets all the love and it deserves it, but Marshal Zhukov is another imperial stout that could go toe to toe with its more famous cousin. Penultimate Push takes the high ABV Zhukov and adds coffee, cocao nibs and vanilla beans to the mix. It's released in big bottles in March.
2 of 10
It's hard to call Heady Topper "rare" when it's released in Vermont every week, but if you don't live near the Green Mountain state, you're pretty much out of luck. Also, this is the beer that started the NE IPA craze. If you haven't had it yet, make it happen in 2017.
3 of 10
Anything in the Julius Family
Tree House Brewing
Julius is helping to set a new standard for IPAs, and King Julius is doing the same for DIPAs. Meanwhile, Jjjuliusss! Is the dry-hopped version that's just out of this world. If you make the trip to Tree House, you'll probably be able to score Julius, and you might get lucky and bag King Julius or Jjjliusss! too, both of which are brewed and released sporadically at best.
4 of 10
Anything from Jester King
Jester King, in Austin, focuses on farmhouse ales, bottling wildly creative beers and releasing them in small batches after they've aged for various amounts of time. Occasionally, Jester King will distribute their beer out of state, but mostly, you've got to make the trip to Austin to score one of their bottles. And the tasting room is only open on weekends. And there's no guarantee what you'll find on tap or in bottles. But if you like farmhouse ales, you're pretty much guaranteed to like whatever it is that Jester King is releasing on the day you show up.
5 of 10
Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout
This is TGB's rare and super limited barrel-aged imperial stout (12% ABV) that's reached whale status. Rumor has it, the beer is worth the effort.
6 of 10
This was Westbrook's first anniversary beer, an imperial stout aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and habanero peppers. It's not spicy; it's just good. They typically release it in May. Sometimes, they'll tell you when they're going to release it and you'll stand in line. Sometimes, they won't tell you and it'll just show up in the wild.
7 of 10
Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout
Are you tired of Russian Imperial Stouts yet? Nah, us neither. AleSmith takes their popular Speedway Stout and ages it for a year in bourbon barrels. It's no joke at 12%. I'd say share it with a friend, but it's an annual release that's tough to get, so I in this case, sharing's for suckers.
8 of 10
Perennial Artisan Ales
You're gonna have to pay attention and buy a ticket well in advance of this beer's release, but it's worth the extra logistics. Abraxas is an imperial stout (of course it is) brewed with ancho chilis and cinnamon sticks. Caliente!
9 of 10
Maine Beer Co.
Maine Beer Co.'s Lunch is an awesome IPA, and Dinner is its burlier DIPA cousin. Expect all kinds of fruitiness, plenty of caramel malt, and expect it to be tough to get. It gets released a couple of times a year, and it goes fast.
10 of 10
Vermont's Fiddlehead mainly makes draft beer sold at local bars but occasionally they'll release cans of something great into the wild. Second Fiddle is something great; it's a DIPA that rivals Heady Topper and is actually harder to find because it's not released on a regular basis. Put Heady Topper, Sip of Sunshine and Second Fiddle together, and you have the trifecta of Vermont IPAs.
Beverage Warehouse Vermont