Obscure beers a step up from Semplefest

By Sarah Vinski

There comes a time in your life when you need to step out of your comfort

zone,… There comes a time in your life when you need to step out of your comfort

zone, expand your pallet, grow up a little and try some new beer.

College students are used to a buffet of light and commercial beers, many of

which replace traditional beer ingredients, like hops and malt, with corn

and sugar.

This means many of America’s most popular beers are similar to hard versions

of soda pop. The following beers are guaranteed to be a flavorful change

from the watered down stuff you’ll find at SempleFest.

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, North Coast Brewing Co.

Stouts contain more barley, malt or hops than other beers and are typically

higher in alcohol content. There are several variations of stout — an

imperial stout is one.

Imperial stouts were first brewed in the 18th century by a London brewery

and shipped to Catherine the Great of Russia. These beers traditionally had

a higher alcohol content to prevent freezing during transportation across

frozen tundras. Today, imperial stouts have content levels that are usually

between 8 to 10 percent alcohol.

Even though Old Rasputin is brewed in California, not Europe, it isn’t

messing around. Poured into a glass, it has the appearance of something

ordered at a coffee shop. It’s the color of chocolate, and the head looks

like the foamy cap on a cappuccino. Old Rasputin has very rich coffee,

chocolate and hops flavors and packs a bite. It also has a warming effect,

great for those cold Russian nights. This is definitely not a light beer.

Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Terrapin Brewing Company

Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Stout is a great choice for coffee addicts on their

nights off, if they can handle it without the cream and sugar.

The cartoon turtle with a tray of oatmeal cookies on the label makes this

beer look like a treat. Coffee stouts and oatmeal stouts exist, but Terrapin

calls its Coffee Oatmeal Stout an imperial stout. It has a higher content

level of an imperial stout, 8.1 percent, and the rich taste, but it’s much

different from Old Rasputin. The fact that Terrapin brews this beer in

collaboration with Jittery Joe’s Coffee might have something to do with it.

This beer immediately smells like coffee and looks like it as well. Oatmeal

sometimes leaves a slightly bitter taste when brewed, and this taste is

present, but not off-putting. Coffee Oatmeal Stout tastes like a carbonated,

black cup of joe.

Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales Brewery

Porter is a name interchangeable with stout.

The Rogue name and the man on the label raising his fist in triumph makes

the beer seem perfect for anyone who has, or wishes they had, a rebellious

streak. Not to mention that it’s chocolate and beer combined. What could be


The color of Mocha Porter is as dark as those of the last two stouts, but

not as opaque. It’s heavy on the hops. Mocha Porter has an added taste that

the last two stouts lack, but it’s hard to determine that the taste is

chocolate. It’s closer to the taste of ash.

Chocolate lovers, don’t jump for this beer. Stout drinkers might be bigger


Éphémère, Unibroue Inc.

Ales such as Éphémère are made with yeast that ferments quickly, which gives

the beer a light, sweet and fruity taste. Hops help to balance the

sweetness. Though ales do not have very rich flavors, they are usually

higher in alcohol content, like stout. Éphémère only has an alcohol content

of 5.5 percent, which is closer to the content of a light beer.

Ephémére has added fruity and sweet flavors such as apple, coriander and

curacao, a liqueur made from the dried peel of the laraha fruit. It’s a

light golden color and isn’t very sweet but is still fruity. The flavor is

reminiscent of a drier wine. The hops are noticeable and prevent the ale

from tasting too much like a cider. The coriander adds to the sweetness of

the fruit flavors.

This is an ale that will go down easy and might be very addictive,

especially for those not typically into beer.

Delirium Tremens, The Huyghe Brewery

Delirium Tremens is a Belgian strong pale ale with an 8.5 percent alcohol


Pale ales are another very popular beer in the American market. The name of

this ale comes from the medical term for severe alcohol withdrawal that can

result in body tremors and delirium. The label is appropriately covered in

little pink elephants.

A beer with the name of an alcohol-induced illness might seem like more of a

challenge than a pleasure, but Delirium Tremens isn’t difficult to tolerate.

The ale is straw colored. Delirium has a warm, fruity taste. The aftertaste

is dry and hoppy and works well to balance the fruit flavors.

Delirium Tremens is very drinkable — just be aware of the higher alcohol


Shiner Kosmos, Spoetzl Brewery

Shiner Kosmos is a lager, the type of beer that dominates the American beer


Lagers aren’t as heavy as stouts but are richer than ales because they are

brewed longer. There are many variations among lagers, such as pilsner, bock

and pale lager, the most common commercially sold beer in the world.

Shiner Kosmos is a light-colored beer. It goes down very easily and has a

light flavor. The aftertaste is a little bitter, but this is just enough to

give the beer some oomph.

Kosmos is more like the beers that the typical college students are used to.

It’s the only beverage in this group that has a twist off cap, which makes

it seem a little less classy, but maybe more comforting.