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We’re all familiar with celebrity liquors like George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila and Matthew McConaughey’s Wild Turkey Longbranch bourbon, but celebs also have started to try their hands at brewing, whether they actually help create the beer that exists in their honor. We decided to explore the growing field—where, for some reason, stouts abound—to bring you this ranked list of their efforts. Here they are from best to worst.
Action Bronson 7000
Brewer: Stillwater Artisanal, Brooklyn, NY
Celeb Connection: Inspired by the Action Bronson album 7000
Do you know Action Bronson? Well, either way, he’s well-known enough to warrant a dry-hopped sour ale, and that’s more than I can say for myself. The beer is a collab between Stillwater, Bronson, and artist Mike Van Hall, and is brewed with muscat grapes, blurring the line between beer and wine perfectly. Notes of apricot, grapefruit, and fresh grass permeate the ale, giving it a fresh and floral funk.
A definite favorite of ours, great for all year, but would kick some major butt in the summer. Our thoughts:
“This one’s got soul; it’s tart, fizzy, feisty.”
“7000 is eminently drinkable, ideal ABV.”
Trooper Red ‘N’ Black Porter
Brewer: Robinsons Brewery, Stockport, U.K.
Celeb Connection: Designed by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson in collaboration with Robinsons
As the lead singer of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson is one badass rocker who has surely drunk a wide variety of brews in his time. This porter is a take on an original Robinsons’ recipe from the 1850s, and the yeast presents hints of licorice and honey. A blend of chocolate and crystal malt gives the full-bodied beer its signature red and black color, and a roasted malt and caramel foundation to go with. While it’s the first dark Trooper beer, it is not the first overall; this iteration joins the ranks of the 2013 original, a “hallowed” beer, and a limited-edition “666” brew.
This was our favorite porter on the list, definitely worth importing to your fridge. Our thoughts:
“Good, but I would have expected more body from Iron Maiden, for it to be thick like blood.”
“Pretty darn tasty.”
Brewer: Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
Celeb Connection: Actor and web nerd Wil Wheaton is a collaborator
A new iteration in a six-year legacy, W00TSTOUT is from the minds and palates of Wil Wheaton (of Stand by Me and Star Trek: TNG), Drew Curtis (creator of Fark.com), and Greg Koch (executive chairman and cofounder of Stone Brewing). Brewed with pecans, wheat, and rye and one quarter aged in bourbon barrels, this imperial stout starts out with some cocoa, coffee, and fruitiness up front. Midpalate is when the bourbon-barrel-aged part of the beer starts to show, with oak, vanilla, nut, and bourbon flavors transitioning to some heat and a hoppy, bitter finish. As they say themselves, “This beer is an ode to you, Fellow Nerd.” Check out Stone’s website for pairing notes.
Of all the stouts we tasted in this test, it was our fav, the strongest and maltiest. Our thoughts:
“It goes through the nose, almost caramely.”
“Sweet, more of a dessert stout. Would pair well with ice cream.”
Wood-Aged Bitches Brew
Brewer: Dogfish Head, Milton, DE
Celeb Connection: Celebration of Miles Davis’s 1970 record
Dogfish’s Wood-Aged Bitches Brew is a twist on its Bitches Brew, which was released in 2010 to honor the 40th anniversary of the Miles Davis album. This imperial stout tastes like sweet roast coffee and chocolate, resulting in a slightly dry and warming mouthfeel, with a mild bitterness. You’ll smell hints of vanilla, licorice, chocolate, and wood—treat yourself and enjoy it sipped cool from a snifter or red wine glass, while listening to the eponymous album, of course.
It’s drinkable but sure makes itself known. Our thoughts:
“There’s a kind of floral aftertaste, like Michael Kors perfume maybe.”
“Flowers, vanilla flowers.”
“Heavy, just-have-one-and-done kind of heavy.”
Mother of Dragons Smoked Porter & Kriek Ale Blend
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
If Daenerys Targaryen can raise dragons, lead the Dothraki, and win the allegiance of Tyrion Lannister, you can learn to pronounce (and enjoy) “kriek,” a Belgian sour beer traditionally fermented with sour cherries. Blended with a smoked porter—smoke! Dragons!—this brew has a pleasantly fruity vibe with semisweet chocolate undertones. Ommegang suggests that this beer will pair well with smoked gouda, braised meats, and rich desserts. May we add: Victory.
Ommegang loves brewing GoT beers as much as we love drinking them. Any of these could easily take the Iron Throne, as far as we’re concerned, but this one is the highest-ranking. The taste was on point and you look like a badass while imbibing. Our thoughts:
“I could actually drink this entire bottle.”
“It’s like a fruity dark chocolate, but with a bitter fragrance.”
“Is it cherries that I taste?”
Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.
Brewer: Shmaltz Brewing Company, Clifton Park, NY
Celeb Connection: Inspired by stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce, who is also a character on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
A rye-based double IPA, we don’t know if we can describe it any better than Shmaltz does themselves. Lenny “inspires innovation, something hip, modern—unorthodox—a taste that really swings. Shocking flavors—far beyond contemporary standards. Sick, dirty, prophetic Lenny: a scapegoat, a martyr, a supreme inspiration.”
Like its namesake, this brew is obscene, transgressive, and unexpected. Our thoughts:
“More malty than I like.”
“Seems that beers get sweeter when they are stronger.”
Breaking Bud IPA
Brewer: Knee Deep Brewing Company, Auburn, CA
Celeb Connection: Walter White, anyone?
Even though the show has been off the air for five years, its influence lives on in many incarnations, Bryan Cranston’s visage a constant reminder of Heisenberg and Los Pollos Hermanos. Taking a new approach to the classic IPA, Breaking Bud features the bitterness you’re used to but creates some fruit flavors that are unexpected—mango, passion fruit, along with pine and dank. Crisp and complex, Mosaic, Simcoe, and CTZ hops spawn many layers of taste, and you won’t have to keep this vice a secret.
It tasted like an IPA should taste, and that’s about it. Our thoughts:
“The branding implies that the beer should be undrinkably hoppy, or blue, or have meth in it.”
“Flavors are a bit muted, has an interesting stank, a little close to marijuana.”
Queen of the Seven Kingdoms Sour Blonde Ale Blend
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Okay. it’s hardly the goblet of blood-red wine that’s become Cersei’s calling card. But a Lannister always pays her debts, and sometimes she just owes herself a good beer. In this dry blonde ale blended with a tart Belgian sour, citrus drifts into sweet malt and apricot notes. You’ll catch the aromas of melon, melded together with fruity esters from the Belgian yeast.
The flavors are more subtle than the other sour we tasted, darker and more bitter, too. Our thoughts:
“What’s that weird taste at the end? Cardamom?”
“Less tart than I anticipated and no pucker.”
Hand of the Queen Barleywine Ale
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Tyrion, not Qyburn. (Shudder.) A beer modeled after classic old-world barleywine, it balances flavors of brandy-soaked raisins and dark fruit with lighter hints of apricot. Notes of molasses and toffee shine through, and it finishes with a subtle heat. Like its namesake, this ale is deceptively strong—sip carefully.
Not the standout of the four-pack, it was kind of unremarkable and doesn’t taste as strong as the ABV suggests. Our thoughts:
“Seems like a less flavorful, less alcoholic version of the W00TSTOUT.”
“More like bland of the queen.”
Eliot Ness Amber Lager
Brewer: Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland
Celeb Connection: Ness enforced Prohibition in Chicago and went after Al Capone, inspiring The Untouchables
As Ness was a lawman and Prohibition agent, you wouldn’t think his visage would inspire an alcoholic beverage, but maybe the juxtaposition makes this brew taste even better. With lightly toasted malts, this amber lager goes down smooth and pairs well with smoked meats, hearty breads, and, according to Great Lakes, a “classy fedora.” If you’re looking for the complete Ness drinking experience, there’s a bullet hole above their taproom bar, supposedly from a shot fired at Ness himself.
Pretty nondescript, a good standby to have in reserve. You never know when Prohibition might be reinstated. Our thoughts:
“Tastes like what it’s supposed to be but still not stellar.”
“More like an upscale Yuengling. It’s a nice color, nice idea behind it.”
King in the North Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
A beer for the Jon Snow in your life (it’s okay if it’s you). Ommegang describes this one as finishing with “thick and chewy with oatmeal creaminess.” But before you get there, the flavors range from chocolate to vanilla, coffee, and roasted malt up front, followed by smooth bourbon and a hint of oak. The high ABV will warm you up faster than a bear pelt, making it a beer for the Aegon—er, ages.
The flavors weren’t very complex and the bubbles were disarming. Our thoughts:
“This tastes like a Games of Thrones beer, like I need to drink it in an old, dark great hall with rough-hewn bread and cheese, preparing to board my steed.”
“Very carbonated, poppy.”
Celeb Connection: Courtesy of Jimmy Buffet, by way of Margaritaville
Launched in 2006 as the house lager for Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant chain, it was of course inspired by one of the singer’s tunes, namely “Fins,” about the “sharks that can swim on the land.” An island-style lager, LandShark is a blend of hops and two-row caramel malts, and its main goal is to compete with Corona. With only 32 Margaritaville locations worldwide, the over-50 set will be content that they can grab this beer at select grocery stores or online at Minibar, Drizly, and Saucey.
Are you perchance wasting away in Margaritaville, noshing on a cheeseburger in paradise? Because that’s the only time this beer will suffice. Our thoughts:
“This beer is trying to make me think I’m in Key West, when I’m probably just in my shitty apartment.”
“It’s light, unpleasant, but a decent substitute for when you don’t have Coors Light.”
“It’s better when the location is right, and perfect for undiscerning old people.”
Faith American Ale
Brewer: Faith American Brewing Company, Margaretville, NY
Celeb Connection: Actor Kelsey Grammer’s creation
A recent addition to Frasier’s résumé, Faith American Ale is the sole beer made by the company and, per Grammer, “beer that smells, looks and tastes like a life well lived, like the fields and the sky and the sun have been brewed into every sip.” Born in the Catskills, it’s ostensibly a Belgian-style ale with the taste of a lager, a hoppy flavor that is not overwhelming.
Only one of our editors would drink it again, if that tells you anything. Our thoughts:
“It impressively tastes like nothing. Surprised by the high ABV to low taste ratio.”
“Kind of like Bud Light, LandShark has more taste.”
“It’s the color of a good bitter skunky warm bad beer.”
Tart Side of the Moon Tart Imperial Stout
Brewer: Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, MI
Celeb Connection: Inspired by Pink Floyd’s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon
Hailing from the second-largest city in Michigan—if you’re from the Mitten, you’ll see what we did there—this imperial stout is kettle soured and blended for a slight tartness. Alongside the tartness, you’ll taste dark chocolate notes and hints of cherries, and a goblet or small tulip glass will allow you to truly appreciate all that this beer has to offer. If you’re looking for the ultimate experience, bust out Pink Floyd’s best-selling album and sip away.
We had faith in this brew based on the namesake and description, and its flavor was right down the middle. Our thoughts:
“Looks syrupy, smells like blackberries.”
“A little like motor oil, but has a porter aftertaste.”
Tom Green Cherry Milk Stout
Brewer: Beau’s Brewing Co., Vankleek Hill, Ontario
Celeb Connection: Made in collaboration with Tom Green, remember him?
Made in collaboration with Canadian actor and comedian Tom Green, this milk stout has nearly 70 pounds of organic cherries added into each batch. The flavor aims to convey dark chocolate and dark roast coffee, followed up with a cherry taste. Check out their site for pairing notes.
We found it a little heavy and slightly boring, but much easier on the palate than some of the other stouts tested. Our thoughts:
“Neither fruity, nor milky, nor stouty.”
“The front end has a taste of cherry pits but the back end is nonexistent.”
“The gang tries to get Mac to come to Dock Street.”
Brewer: Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia
Celeb Connection: Inspired by TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Established in 1985, Dock Street is Philadelphia’s first microbrewery, and what better place to brew an It’s Always Sunny beer than the show’s locale? This milk stout features the aroma of chocolate-covered espresso beans and aims for a flavor of creamy chocolate and mild roast. It’s brewed with an array of kilned barleys and lactose sugar, and it’s strictly BYOMS—Bring Your Own Milk Steak.
We thought it could have been creamier and richer, which placed it at the bottom of our list. Our thoughts:
“Not a lot of body to it, seems more like coffee, thin.”
“There’s a metallic aftertaste I can’t place.”
Marky Ramone’s Natural Brown Ale
Brewer: Cervesa Guineu, Barcelona, Spain
Celeb Connection: Designed by Marky Ramone in collaboration with Guineu
Hopefully by now you know that, as the pioneers of punk rock, none of the Ramones are actually related. Drummer Marky Ramone, while not in the original band lineup, was part of the final lineup, and is the only living member inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Surprisingly, he has his own beer, but little information is available aside from the biographical facts on the label. Maybe this song written by the man himself will help clear things up for you—probably not, though.
This beer did not rock as hard as the Ramones, not even close. Our thoughts:
“I don’t know what it should taste like but it definitely shouldn’t be this.”
“Tastes like mothballs, or like rusty drain water.”