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Drink globally, locally

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Every time I visit my local beer shop, I usually come home with some pretty fantastic new beer styles. But, I always try to save some room in my fridge for the really old stuff.

These days, breweries are thinking globally (and historically) as they decide what to brew next—from Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales to Boston Beer’s Finnish-style Sahti Norse Legend to The Bruery’s Rugbrød, a Danish Christmas ale. It’s safe to say the practice of brewing esoteric traditional beer styles is in full-on trend mode: Today, the Brewers Association announced its revised list of beer style guidelines for 2013, which included lesser known styles like the Adambier, popular in Dortmund, Germany and the Grätzer, which is native to Poland.

One of the more interesting indigenous styles I’ve sipped recently was Sprecher Shakparo, the Wisconsin brewery’s version of the popular West African beer style, which we featured in our current March/April issue. Crafted in a region that lacks an abundance of traditional brewing grains, the Shakparo style relies on millet and sorghum for its malt bill, making it gluten-free. Its profile certainly deviates from European-born ales and lagers, but there are plenty of familiar notes to pull out: A grainy, bready backbone, touches of white grape and apple, and a decidedly floral nose. Give this one a spin, and then try the brewery’s Mbege, an East African style that’s brewed with banana.

It’s never been so easy to explore the wide world of beer.

Which lesser-known beer styles do you enjoy?

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