I hope no one gave up beer for Lent. Good, let’s move on then.
You’ve probably seen large brown bottles of craft beer on display at your local grocery store, often at the bottom of the rack and near the wine or single beers. Known as “bombers,” these 22-ounce bottles are not designed to be enjoyed on a street corner in a brown paper bag (although having just finished with parade season, that might not be a bad idea). Rather, they are specialty or limited-release brews (often with high alcohol content) that are not usually available in normal 12-ounce six-packs.
Bombers are great for both sampling beers you can’t readily find anywhere else and for trying something you’re not sure of without purchasing an entire six- or 12-pack. I like having a couple of them in the fridge to share with friends — break out the tasting glasses, sample a couple of unique brews and see who likes what.
While bombers used to be one of the only ways to get a taste of many beers from small and distant craft brewers, as the distribution of craft beers and number of retailers specializing in carrying beers from around the nation grow, the prevalence of bombers has been on the decline. However, you can still find them in most grocery stores that stock craft beer.
Bombers remain poplar with a number of excellent West Coast breweries, which offer some of the best, and most unique, beers available anywhere. Oregon’s Rogue Ales previously only released its beers in bombers, although it recently began canning some beers as well, including its fantastic Dead Guy Ale, for which it is best known.
I’ve not seen it in cans around here, however, but there are a number of Rogue styles available locally, including its Cold Brew IPA, which is blended with coffee. I didn’t really taste much coffee, but I did enjoy this hoppy beer with nice floral finishes.
Another West Coast favorite available mainly in bombers is the fantastically named Arrogant Bastard Ale from California’s Arrogant Brewing. If you’ve never had an Arrogant Bastard Ale, you need to try one — but be aware, it’s isn’t for the faint of heart. Both malty and hoppy, it is a unique and strong (7.2 percent alcohol by volume) dark ale.
Closer to home, Louisiana’s Abita Brewery always puts out a number of seasonal and special bombers, and unlike most brewers, Abita’s bombers tend to be at a reasonable price, usually around $4 to $5 a bottle. I recently tried an Abita bomber in a style I had never seen before, Horchata Turbo Dog, a Latin-inspired take on the Abita staple.
As the original Turbo Dog is one of my all-time favorites, I had to give it a go, and I wasn’t disappointed. It had a strong vanilla aroma, and the vanilla and spice finish was a perfect complement to the dark, chocolaty Turbo Dog.
For those of you still celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl win (and I know a bunch of you who still are, even in Mobile), Philadelphia’s Victory (!) Brewing Co. puts out Golden Monkey, a powerful Belgian ale in a bomber that is superb. However, be careful — at 9.5 percent ABV, too much of this one and you’ll be climbing lampposts.