Vinnie Neuberg

This might be one risky way to open an article published on a site called "The Beer Necessities," but…I never got into beer. Hell, I don’t drink in general. (Though I have heard it's so good once it hits your lips.) But as an admitted music obsessive, what I am into are subcultures that allow for geeking out over a specific craft that blends a seemingly endless pool of knowledge with art and creativity. And beer culture certainly has no shortage there.

More specifically, I've recently noticed that beer labels and packaging have gotten incredibly intricate and diverse. So much so that I find myself standing in grocery store aisles staring at bottles for far too long for someone who has no intention of ever buying them. And to be honest, I kind of feel left out of this whole "craft beer" thing.

With that in mind, I decided to dive head first into the scene and experience some of the best beers out there the only way I know how: solely by how they look. Think of me as taking the "Tinder approach" to being a beer expert: my judgments may be superficial, but I'm not looking for a long-term partner, here.

For those who also won't ever try them: here's what I assume some of the highest rated beers on Beer Advocate and RateBeer are all about, and what they might taste like.

credits:"Lee Breslouer" width:350 align:right

The Alchemist Heady Topper

Initial Impressions: I like this beer right away because it’s telling you to DRINK FROM THE CAN! No need to waste a glass on this one – it’s best from the imbibing device already provided. Ironically, the guy on the can is not drinking from the can, which troubles me. He is also wearing a bowtie, which indicates that he's clearly a naughty bartender, drinking on the job.

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: The illustration makes it clear that there are some serious bubbles in this beer, but I’m not sure if the bartender is having his mind blown by the hoppiness, or if he’s standing under a hops tree. Either way, it tastes like hops…whatever that tastes like.

Final Grade: 2 out of 4 Hops Trees

credits:"Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. / Facebook" width:450 align:right

Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch

Initial Impressions: The fact that this brewery sealed this beer with wax makes me sure it’s pretty damn fancy -- and also probably hoppy, too. In fact, this beer is so full of hops that an extra-strong seal is needed to keep them from exploding the bottle. The label looks like it was hand-drawn with a Sharpie, and it’s hand-numbered like it was brewed for a classy wedding. Is this a homebrew from Etsy?

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: Beef jerky soaked in Champagne.

Final Grade: 3 out of 4 Stolen Country Club Membership Cards

credits:"3floydsbrewing / Instagram" width:375 align:right

3 Floyds Dark Lord

Initial Impressions: YES. This is the heavy metal of beer. It’s like the guys from GWAR got in a fight with Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator, and the collected sweat is in this bottle. It’s so damned volatile that they had to seal it with magical blue wax from Mordor.

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: A mixture of the perfume of a buxom, Nordic beauty, and the souls of your fallen enemies. Once you’re done with this beer, you’ll be ready to either pillage a town, or play some sweet solos on a Flying V guitar.

Final Grade: 4 out of 4 Horned Battle Helmets

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Initial Impressions: It seems like this brewery is trying to convey a country-western theme with the bottle. Is this cowboy beer? Or are they just trying to say, “This is beer. Simple, good-as-hell beer”? I’d assume the latter, but the “Highly Acclaimed” at the top sounds to me like they’re compensating for something. Also, minus one point for starting a sentence with the word “is.”

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: This beer isn’t bothering with fancy flavors or anything. It’s just tasty beer. And if you’ve got a problem with that, this beer will see you in the center of town at high noon.

Final Grade: 2 out of 4 Pairs of Cowboy Boots

credits:"Founders Brewing Co."

credits:"The Lost Abbey / Facebook" width:400 align:right

The Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze

Initial Impressions: This is absolutely the sort of smart-ass beer I’d drink if I drank. Full of contrasts, the tall bottle has one of those Champagne twisty-things at the top, but the label features a bunch of rubber duckies. It’s like the mullet of beer: business on top, party on the label. Also, the goose looks like he totally caught the two ducks doing something naughty in the marsh.

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: This is the distilled essence of every drink you ever had behind your parents’ back. It also has hints of your first girlfriend’s lip balm.

Final Grade: 4 out of 4 Bathtub Toys

credits:"jesterkingbrewery / Instagram" width:250 align:left

Jester King Atrial Rubicite

Initial Impressions: I’m guessing this beer sells well with people who picnic or go to Renaissance Fairs. Either way, it goes great with a giant turkey leg. But I’m pretty sure that this beer is actually wine in disguise. (Unless that’s not actually a piece of fruit on the label, but instead some majestic creature’s heart bursting out of its chest cavity.)

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: Assuming that is fruit on the label, this beer probably goes down super smooth, perfect for the sort of people who loved Boones Farm when they were in college.

Final Grade: 2 out of 4 Wine Coolers

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Initial Impressions: This beer is so unique, it can’t be represented by a standard label. If this beer were human, it would be the guy who rolls into the bar in a custom tailored suit and starts speaking Spanish to your girlfriend. And somehow, you don’t mind when he takes her home.

What I Think This Beer Tastes Like: Like the blood of a rich person who summers in the Hamptons, with a dash of rich, Corinthian leather. This beer also looks out for you, telling you the year it was brewed, making it impossible for your shady friend to bring a skunked one to your party.

Final Grade: 3 out of 4 Leather-Bound Books


Note: Goose Island is a member of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch; Anheuser-Busch is also a minority investor in Ratebeer via ZX Ventures.