What Was the First Extreme Beer That Challenged Your Expectations of What Beer Could Be?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Todd, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,609) Aug 23, 1996 California

    We recently asked brewers pouring at our upcoming Extreme Beer Fest: What was the first extreme beer that challenged your expectations of what beer could be? And we've received some great responses that we're starting to post on our Instagram feed.

    But what about you? What was that first extreme beer that pushed your mind and palate into a world of new expectations?

    Me: Probably Samuel Adams Triple Bock back in the 90s. The cobalt blue corked bottle, high ABV, rich and bold flavors, endless layers of barrel-aged nuances, idea that you'd sip and savor it, and note from Jim suggesting to age it and explore where it goes. I hadn't tried anything like it and wouldn't again for many years. And despite it getting bad reviews today, back then it set the benchmark for extreme brewing and inspired countless brewers.

    Looking forward to your replies...
  2. TWStandley

    TWStandley Crusader (732) Jan 15, 2008 Massachusetts

    DFH 120 - remember the smell that hit me when I opened the bottle and the assault of flavors that followed.
  3. guinness77

    guinness77 Savant (942) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen. I’ll never forget the first time I smelled this beer. I was in my early 20s when a buddy who worked at a shop with an extensive imported selection insisted I drink this. It smelled like a campfire, baked beans, smoked sausage. I was like “what the fuck is this?” Now, I was already familiar with hefes, dopplebocks, and dunkels but I figure, no way am I gonna like this. Well...I freaking loved it from the first sip. It really made me wonder what else, beer wise, I could possibly like.

    I’m copying and pasting from a thread I started last month but this answers the question laid out perfectly for me.
  4. McMatt7

    McMatt7 Disciple (328) Jul 30, 2014 Pennsylvania

    First time i drank that i choked down half my glass then threw some ice cubes in it so i could finish it :slight_smile:

    I think Samichlaus Classic was the first beer that really punched me in the face with flavor. I'd never had a beer with that much cherry and molasses and dried fruit, and sweetness, and alcohol. Walked out of the bar a totally different man after that one. And i was drunk too.
    Amendm, J-Bk, KentT and 3 others like this.
  5. pjbear05

    pjbear05 Initiate (164) May 28, 2008 Florida

    Duvel. I was at a long gone local beer bar's opening week when they set plastic sampler cups in front of everybody, then start pouring samples out of Duvel magnums. Boom! I haven't been the same since.
  6. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Aspirant (284) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Wyerbacher's Sunday Morning Stout. A couple years ago, my brother split a bottle of it with me and from my knowledge I'd never had a beer like it. From there on out, I was hooked to BA beers. Most people these days probably won't consider it extreme, but to me it was an extreme change from non-BA beers to trying a BA beer such as SMS. It def. pushed my mind and palate to new expectations. Probably my favorite BA beer because of this experience.
  7. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Disciple (320) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont

    Rock Art Ridge Runner was my first experience with Barleywine 15 or 20 years ago. It might not stand up to the competition now, but I remember being hit over the head with how much flavor it had compared to my usual beer at the time (Newcastle, Killians, etc)
    Fox82791, Amendm, SawDog505 and 3 others like this.
  8. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (2,906) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    A few come to mind:

    1. New Belgium's La Folie. Suppose the same could be said for any sour beer, but it was my first sour and the first beer I ever 'identified' with. It also helped that we got a pour of the pre-aged, non-soured, so it was my first glimpse into the effects of souring, and how something that was mildly interesting to me could be turned into something of tremendous interest.

    2. Boulevard's Imperial Stout X Coffee Ale. First really big stout with lovely coffee notes. It made me realize that beer not only can be a meal, but it can cross over well into my coffee tastes.

    3. Bourbon County Brand Stout. Received as an extra in a trade, with one year of age on that bottle. It was my first go with an aged beer and BCBS. I remember how decadent it was, showing notes that I had no clue a beer could contain, all that with an even thicker, chewier texture than anything I'd drank before. I'm sure, technically speaking, the other pours of BCBS were just as good, but that one bottle really stands out as 'extreme' and memorable.

    4. Dogfish Head's 120 Minute. Just - woah. Dogfish Head came to Missouri last year, so we could start picking fresh 120 Minute IPA on shelfs. With the label, I figure I needed to drink it fresh, and wowzas, I should have waited. Amazing what so many hops and malts can do.
  9. AllOfTheCats

    AllOfTheCats Initiate (168) Mar 27, 2018 California

    Another vote for Bourbon County. When I first had it on tap a few years ago, and when I hadn't tried any/many other BA beers yet, it felt so overwhelming - the burn, the viscosity (at least more than anything I had had previously), the flavor. My eyes popped. I lit up. It was great.
    SawDog505, Bitterbill and Lahey like this.
  10. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,261) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    For me it would also be the Samichlaus, or maybe my first time drinking a BBA beer, which for me would be Arcadia's Shipwreck Porter (back then BBA was extreme). I don't recall which came first.
    Amendm, McMatt7, J-Bk and 2 others like this.
  11. mkh012

    mkh012 Zealot (550) May 7, 2015 New Jersey

    Lagunitas Brown Shugga was bitter and impactful as hell to me 4 years ago, when I first got into beer. I haven't had it since, but that was definitely a "this is something different" moment since I hadn't ventured into strong ales yet. I didn't really like it, but it kind of enhanced my tolerance to intense flavors.
  12. Zorro

    Zorro Poo-Bah (4,341) Dec 25, 2003 California

    Russian River Brewing Company - Pliny The Younger.

    Maybe not considered that extreme now but it remains one of the best Extreme IPAs.
  13. lackenhauser

    lackenhauser Poo-Bah (2,472) Dec 10, 2002 Maryland

    EKU 28 the original Eisbock. I was 16 and had 1 1/2 as my buddy couldn’t finish his. Wasn’t drunk but had a massive body high couldn’t get out of the chair. More recently o guess the Sam Triple Bock.
  14. mpyle

    mpyle Meyvn (1,074) Jan 9, 2006 Maryland

    DFH 120 comes to mind for me. Can't remember how many years ago it was, but do remembering that it didn't taste like beer to me. Not sure if I have ever had it again!
    Amendm, SawDog505 and Bitterbill like this.
  15. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,324) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    Great question!

    Unfortunately I cannot remember the first one because it was bought for me by a gentleman at a bar, and I never thought to ask what it was. I think it was something along the lines of a Duvel - a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It was a fantastic tasting experience, made better by someone trying to spread good beer with me.

    The first one I remember was Rochefort 10. It blew my mind.
    SawDog505 and Bitterbill like this.
  16. Lahey

    Lahey Disciple (387) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    Dragons milk. I bought a pour just based on the cool name and was quite surprised at the heat and viscosity of it. Took a while to get back around to the style, but I love it now. Still don't drink much dragons milk though, so many other options.
  17. soccerbrew

    soccerbrew Initiate (107) Apr 18, 2005 Washington

    1) Pliny the Younger - just getting into craft beer at the time and had a Younger before the lines. Soccer was the day but the beer set me on a new path.
    2) Samiclaus - co worker is a big time Sami lover. Gave me one at an event and I was done for the day, very nice.
    3) Dogfish 120 - local beer bar serves two to three year samples each year. Fun but does you in rather quickly.
    Zorro, TheBrewsky, KentT and 2 others like this.
  18. BitterOldSalt

    BitterOldSalt Initiate (112) May 29, 2010 Maine

    I've had a few sea-changes with beer over the years, but my most recent, and perhaps most dramatic, was precipitated by drinking and loving the barnyard funk of Boulevard Saison-Brett about 5 years ago.
  19. TheBeerTrekker

    TheBeerTrekker Initiate (149) Aug 30, 2013 New York

    I can recall vividly a couple of that a-ha moment when it comes to beer.

    1. 1995, I had just moved back to the US. Growing up in Venezuela I did not have much exposure to beers other than the local macro produced Pilsen style beer, let's call it the Venezuelan bud. I moved to Boston and after a few weeks it was Christmas time, I went to Burlington, VT to spend the holidays with my cousin and I remember one afternoon her boyfriend at the time brought back home a six -pack of a new local brewery that had just opened, Magic Hat. The beer was Blind Faith, an English-style IPA and that blew my mind, I was not ready for that combination of aromas and flavors, it was a game changer.

    2. 2014, Founders had just rolled out big distro in NYC for the first time. I was not a stout drinker, I had tried a few times some names like Old Rasputin and Ten Fidy, were my first two and that was not the best idea, I was not a fan and had swore I was OK with not liking stouts. I then tried Founders Porter, which should have been the first choice but still, I was not a fan of the roast and bitter notes. Some months later Founders announces an event in Brooklyn and I decided to attend. I was taking some pictures for my project https://www.instagram.com/thebeertrekker/ and the bartenders asked me if I wanted to try KBS before the doors opened, I replied that I was not a big fan of stouts to which he gave me a look and said, you have never tried anything like this and insisted I try it. I did and wow, blew my mind, I had not experienced the level of nuances and lawyers of aromas, flavors that this beer had, another game changer.

    DESK_SMASH Initiate (50) Feb 25, 2015 Illinois

    fff skull ole melted my face off.
    SawDog505 and Bitterbill like this.
  21. Keztag

    Keztag Initiate (33) Dec 8, 2015 Michigan

    Without question, it would be Samichlaus. I cannot recall any other beers @ 14% ABV (or higher) in the mid-90's, the first time I had it.
    KentT, SawDog505 and Bitterbill like this.
  22. AKEllis1111

    AKEllis1111 Initiate (40) Oct 26, 2018 Missouri

    I'd have to say the first extreme beer for me, especially since I would not have ever considered myself a "beer" lover, would be Mother's Brewing Rated R. It was my 1st Imperial Stout, my 1st high ABV beer at 11.5% (WOW! I've come a long way!) & my 1st real dabble in bold, dark beers.
    Until as recently as Labor Day weekend 2018, I considered myself a Red Wine lover (Cabrinet Sauvignon & Chianti). However, that weekend I was introduced to Imperial Milk Stouts in Memphis, TN & it was life changing for me. That particular beer was Wiseacre Brewing Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout. Since than I've gone for as many extremes as I can find. I can't explain why but whatever it is....it's a new found love & I'm enjoying the hell out of it!!
    Beyond Mother's Brewing Rated R, I would say my extremes are several. They range from Rated R, to Mother's Brewing Milf (Ultimate & Brandy Barrels being my favorites) to Avery's Tweak & the ever so wonderful, Prairie Artisan Ale's Prairie Bomb & Paradise!
    If it's extreme, I'm hot on it's trail. However, I will add that OFFICIALLY, my #1 is Bourbon County Brand Stout. I'm stocked & loaded until next Black Friday & that was NO easy task!! :wink: .And I cannot forget my #2 being Dragon's Milk!! Love <3
    #22 AKEllis1111, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    Lahey likes this.
  23. Somajiahu

    Somajiahu Initiate (26) Dec 20, 2016 Virginia

    I was in my early 40s (I'm now 59) and was attending a neo-pagan ritual and a member of the circle handed me the consecrated chalice and I sipped. Usually, some wine -- which I have really never liked and still don't -- was in the cup, but this time when I drank I was surprised. "What's this?" I asked.

    "It's beer," the host replied.
    "Oh, no, it's not," I responded emphatically. "There's no way that's beer. I hate beer and have never had anything more than a sip because it tastes like drek. This tastes amazing though."

    In order to prove his point, he reached over to his kitchen table and produced a bottle. It said: Midas Touch.

    Okay, then. If that was beer, then I want more, please. Lots more. That was the day I began to drink craft beer and extreme beers have always been my favourites. Barleywines. Ancient Ales. Culinary-based beers.

    Yes. Yes. And yes.

    And while I can't attend the Extreme Beer Fest in 2019, I hope to attend the Extreme Beer Fest in 2020. I'll be retired then and beer tourism is top on my list. Homebrew Con and Extreme Beer Fest are top of the list.
    1mctous and BitterOldSalt like this.
  24. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Aspirant (248) Jan 13, 2016 Ontario (Canada)

    Definitely Dogfish Head 120! It was then that I realized that beers could be as strong as, and interesting, as wine. It finally made me appreciate ales. Up to then, I far preferred lagers. I still do, but am now able to appreciate some ales.
    cavedave, SawDog505 and Bitterbill like this.
  25. TerryO

    TerryO Initiate (10) Mar 5, 2017

    After a few years of not drinking any beer at all ( I was tired of bland lagers)
    I was at my favorite Mexican restaurant.
    They ran out of Ice tea, the waiter suggested a Pete's Wicked ale.
    658 Breweries , brew pubs , taproom's and tap houses later the rest is history.
    Pete's wicked ale! made me want to drink beer again Terry O.
    The strongest while still tasting like beer was Black Tuesday, from the Bruery, in Placentia, CA
    Lahey likes this.
  26. PacNWDad

    PacNWDad Disciple (371) Sep 24, 2011 Washington

    I agree with the numerous comments on Samichlaus. It was my "gateway" beer back in the late 1980s.
  27. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,217) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Trader

    If you're talking aboot the 1990s, I would have to agree with Sam Adams Triple Bock.

    Then I started hearing, well really, reading of this beer called Thomas Hardy Ale. So I had to seek it out. That was in the 2000s. As a side note, I saw oodles of it on the shelves in Fort Collins stores in the 90s but never bit. If I could kick myself in the ass, I would. :wink:

    La Folie was my intro into the sour beer style. 120 was my first DIPA and I couldn't stand it. (Fresh) Samichlaus was another revelation. And Orval, both fresh and with some age on it...to this day, holds my highest esteem.

    I left out some others but I took enough of your time.
  28. SawDog505

    SawDog505 Poo-Bah (3,403) Apr 9, 2010 New Hampshire

    I remember having a little local Brewer in NH called The Flying Goose Isle of Pine Barleywine and being floored that a beer over 11% could be so drinkleable and tasty. Then I went to my first EBF and Avery Tweak just blew my mind a beer almost 18% could be so good and hide the ABV so well, hell @Todd you where there![​IMG]
    guinness77, cavedave, scream and 6 others like this.
  29. CraigHeron

    CraigHeron Initiate (32) Aug 19, 2018 Ontario (Canada)

    First mind-blowing beer was home brew made by Richard, a work colleague in the mid-80s. His brews were like nothing I had ever had. He got me making my own beers for years. Can’t do it now in a condo, but I still fondly remember Saturday afternoons in his basement making or bottling while music from the Metropolitan Opera played in the background.
    BitterOldSalt and Lahey like this.
  30. fegelFatso

    fegelFatso Initiate (97) Jun 23, 2013 California

    In chronological order of when I first tried them:

    1. Avery Maharaja (2011) - 10.3%
    2. Avery Samaels (2012) 15.2%
    3. Dogfish Head 120 (2012): 18%
    4. Russian River Consecration (2013): 10% (extreme for a sour)
    5. The Bruery Black Tuesday (2014): 19.7%
    FatBoyGotSwagger and GreenBayBA like this.
  31. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,509) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    For me the only time I think I really got that feeling where I said "this is beer? really?" was way back in my early years- like 1982 or so. I already knew all about Domestic, Premium, Import Light and Dark, Stout...when a German and family friend introduced me to Berliner Weiss (back then it was Kindl and Schultheis)- and that was waaaay different, so thin, effervescent and tart. It was also strangely addictive :wink:, and in the beginning I was relating to it more as a sort of sparkling wine-ish thing.

    It took a few tries to accept that "yes, beer can be like this too", but once that happened it was all on the table in my mind as far as expectations go.
  32. bobstockwell

    bobstockwell Aspirant (259) Mar 25, 2004 Massachusetts

    Sam Adams triple bock, Dfh 120, and bcbs
    GreenBayBA and Bitterbill like this.
  33. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (733) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout - no question

    I was over visiting my long distance gf (now wife - live here in NYC - two kids) around 11 years ago. We went to PDT (speakeasy inside a hot dog place in the east village, that had very recently opened). Ordered BBCS. I was fairly into good beer back in the UK, but the norm for me were cask bitters/pales in the 3-5% range. 6% was strong. This beer just blew me away. And yeah I’m sure these days, it may not stand up to Triple Barrel Aged Thiccccc Stout With Virgin Handpicked ‘Nilla - but it was an incredible beer. No additives either. Totally flipped things for me.
    #33 rozzom, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  34. itsatax

    itsatax Initiate (38) Oct 23, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I had Rogue River Old Crustacean (or whatever their barley wine was back then) when I drove to the west coast back in 1992. I was brewing at the time, but still hadn't had anything like that at the time. Bass was something exotic back then.
    scream, BitterOldSalt and Bitterbill like this.
  35. varomano

    varomano Initiate (0) Sep 30, 2018

    Early 90's, I was just graduating from Belgian Wheats. To make an interesting New Year's Eve, I bought a number of "different" beers suggested by the owner of a very good beer store. I loved two of them. One was Rogue's Yellow Snow Ale, a pale ale with a really nice malt balance. A great beer that helps you understand beer's complexity. However, the one that did that - in spades - for me was New Holland's Cabin Fever. I was at least familiar with malt forward beers (like Yellow Snow), but - Cabin Fever is a wonderful hop forward beer, the first I ever had. Man, it's a terrific beer and it lead me into a whole new range of beers. It broadened my world.
    Keztag, Lahey and Bitterbill like this.
  36. FritzieGettleman

    FritzieGettleman Initiate (15) Nov 9, 2017 England

    Regal Brau, from Huber Brewing, Monroe Wisconsin. It was probably around 1970 and I was 18. Having been weaned on Miller and Schilitz and later the occasional Chief Oshkosh or Blatz. Regal Brau was revelation about how good to beer could be. I never really looked back and since then have sample beers than I could list on four continents. Thanks Huber.
    Keztag and Bitterbill like this.
  37. WSB

    WSB Initiate (143) Feb 21, 2009 Massachusetts

    Boston BeerWorks "Eisbok". 1995. My buddy ordered it, and the bartender gave him a verbal warning about the abv, told him tehre was a 2 glass limit, and you could only order 2. So of course I had to order one as well! It changed my whole perception of what beer could be- the intense alcohol burn and rich malty flavor of that beer was amazing! I really hope they brew it again someday. To this day few beers have been as "extreme" or as wonderful to me! Cheers!
    Lahey and Bitterbill like this.
  38. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (497) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Not a specific beer, but hitting the Short’s table at EBF for the first time was mind blowing. Had a beer that tasted exactly like key lime pie (in a good way) and a beer that tasted exactly like smoking a cigar (in the worst way possible). Those guys are magicians.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  39. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,119) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Walking into the bottle shop a decade ago I decided to splurge a little and picked up some Russian River Consecration and Supplication. I still remember what they tasted like to this day.

    Old Rasputin and Breakfast stout sold me on stouts also.
    cavedave, Bitterbill and Lahey like this.
  40. KentT

    KentT Initiate (181) Oct 15, 2008 Tennessee

    Samichlaus opened my mind to what big beer could do, and how it could excite the senses. A mindblowing experience for me. One which has never been forgotten.