Nothing elates a beer lover like the discovery of …

Nothing elates a beer lover like the discovery of an untried, delicious brew. Last night, at the Old Toad, I was privileged to find two exceptional and exotic beers.

First up was Champion Rider from the Southern Tier Brewing Company. The guys at Southern Tier make incredible beers, and this foray into custom brewing is a testament to their excellence. Developed as a collboration with Old Toad bar manager Joe McBane, Champion Rider is a surprisingly distinctive pale ale. The aroma is lush and very floral. The body is crisp and refreshing, and hops and malt are skillfully balanced.

Champion Rider will only be available at the Toad, which is a shame for non-Rochesterian beer lovers.

Kapuziner Hefeweizen, from Germany’s Kulmbacher Brewery, also scored some big points with me. I had never seen this beer on draft in the USA before. Hell, I never even saw it in Germany. Gotta love the Toad for taking the time to find the obscure beers.

Hefes are tricky with me. They’re either really good, mediocre, or American. This one ponies up. Kapuziner achieves the sublime orangey hue and banana/clove aroma of Paulaner (the holy grail of hefe). It doesn’t carry as robust a flavor as the big “P,” buts stands head and shoulders over Tucher, Hacker-Pschorr, and other lesser examples. I’d place it as slightly better than Franziscaner, itself a worthy choice in any bar. -Mark

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