Here are my top-five year-round beers, in order:
1. St. Arnold Elissa
If you love crisp, bitter, hoppy beers, you will fall hard for this India Pale Ale (IPA) named after Galveston's tall ship.
2. Live Oak Pilz
Live Oak beers are sold on draft to select pubs and restaurants around the state that cater to beer lovers. All of their beers are extremely well made, but the Czech-style pilsner is spectacular.
3. Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye Ale
The hippest brewer in Texas, Real Ale in Blanco makes this unusually crisp, rye-flavored ale that goes exceptionally well with food.
4. Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug
The Fort Worth microbrewery's No. 1 seller is a German schwarzbier made with dark roasted malts for a rich flavor and dark color.
5. Shiner Bohemian Black Lager
Another German schwarzbier — this one was made to celebrate the brewery's anniversary, but it was so popular it's now made year-round. It's Shiner's No. 2 seller after Shiner Bock and much more interesting.
My top-five seasonal beers, in order:
1. Real Ale's Shade Grown Coffee Porter
Available on draft in the wintertime, this intense porter is made with Katz's fair trade coffee.
2. Saint Arnold Summer Pils
A crisp, refreshing, delicious summer Czech-style Pilsner.
3. Rahr & Sons Bucking Bock
A sweet, golden Maibock (spring bock) that's shockingly good.
4. Live Oak Hefeweizen
You can get this spring and summer wheat beer with live yeast and citrus flavors on draft only — but it's one of the best Hefeweizens in the country.
5. Saint Arnold Christmas Ale
Lots of malt, lots of hops and lots of alcohol make this sweet, spicy, hearty ale a favorite for the holiday season.
Shiner "Anniversary Series" 96-100
Counting down to their 100th Birthday in 2009, Shiner has released a series of craft-brewed beers. The beer called 96 was a Marzen, 97 was Bohemian Black (now a year-round beer), 98 was an amber lager and 99, which is currently on the market, is a Helles, a Czech-style pilsner. In January 2009, 100 will be released.
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve Series 1-7
Each year Saint Arnold's brewmasters get to go wild with a limited edition beer (or two). If you can find them, buy them. They are always fabulous. Divine Reserve No. 5 was a Russian Imperial Stout that Beer Advocate
named one of the Best 25 American Beers of 2007.
Southern Star is the newest microbrewery in Texas. They are located in Conroe, and they just released their first beer. Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale comes in a 16-ounce "tall boy" can.