Ask any editor to name the greatest editorial invention of all time and he or she will likely say the Top 10 List. Top 10 lists are easy to compile and, since they're just someone's opinion, you don't need to fact-check them. They take virtually no work at all to get on the page. Plus, readers love them. (Even knowing they're just a way for editors to escape work, I'm still curious to read about the "10 Ugliest Sports Uniforms," the "10 Worst Automobiles Ever" or the "10 Most Influential Alternative History Novels of All Time.")
Plus, Top 10 lists are the gift that keeps on giving. After publishing the list, you're certain to get at least a few "I can't believe you forgot 'X.'" or "How could you possibily include 'Y' on your list?" letters to fill up your mail page. Top 10 lists do everything but write themselves.
With that in mind, I present the Top 10 BYO Recipes. This list exhibits all the editorial laziness that Top 10 lists are known for. Plus I turn it up a notch - I haven't even put them in any order, I've only included recent recipes that I'm familiar with and there are actually 13 recipes! (Take that Rolling Stone editors! I can't believe you imbeciles left "Van Halen" off the "Top 100 Influential Albums of All Time" list. Duh, I can't think of any guitar players that were influenced by Eddie's guitar work on that album.) I have excluded clone recipes from this list.
Top 10 BYO Recipes
Standard Robust Porter (Jan-Feb '03)
Terry Foster obviously didn't waste any time thinking up a fancy name for this beer, but his porter recipe is fantastic.
Black Pearl Oyster Stout (Jan-Feb '04 -- and Mar-Apr '05, in our "10 Wildest Recipes" article)
An awesome stout with real oysters in it. Sounds like a gimmick, but it's an awesome stout. Joe Walton and Jim Michalk (both Austin ZEALOTS ) brew a batch every year and bring it to one of our meetings.
Grab My Heinie (Jul-Aug '05)
Want to brew a light "international lager" like Heineken, Becks or a zillion other beers? This recipe will get you there. The neat quirk here is that your mash pH is established by using very soft water and adding acidulated malt, rather than adding calcium to your brewing liquor. Gives an authentic "rounded" taste to the beer.
BYO's 10th Anniversary Ale (Sep '05)
A big, dark, stout-like ale that clocks in at 10% alcohol. Surprisingly -- almost dangerously -- drinkable, given the strength. Jim Haller (a ZEALOT) and I brewed the official batch of this one day when it was 110 degrees Fahreheit outside. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever saw him again. I also brewed a batch with Trent Johnson (another ZEALOT) one day and then I brewed it once on my own. My father-in-law really likes this one, so I might be brewing this again soon.
Cranberry Zinger (Oct '05)
Super easy to make, but it turns out great every time. I serve it on Thanksgiving every year.
Red Ball Express (Jan-Feb '06)
My version of a Vienna lager. (My older Vienna lager recipe, which won a silver medal at the NHC one year, was in the Jul-Aug '05 issue. I called that one Wiener Blut.)
Patrick Henry Pale Ale (Mar-Apr '06)
I won 1st place in the balanced beer division with a non-dry-hopped version this recipe at the most recent ZEALOTS Homebrew Inquisition. (I renamed the beer Pretzel vs. President Pale Ale for the contest because the recipe changed slightly.) Brew this with water low in carbonates and high in calcium sulfate (add gypsum). The hop character actually improves with age for a couple months.
Kelheim Weissbier (Jul-Aug '06)
This is Horst Dornbusch's homage to Schneider Weisse, which I love. (I said clone recipes were excluded. This is a homage.) Keith Bradley, from the ZEALOTS, brewed a batch and it turned out great, except for the fact that it was overcarbonated. In true ZEALOTS fashion, he complained about it every time he saw me rather than simply venting the keg a few times. Still, the beer was yummy beyond belief.
Colby House Porter (Oct '06)
I've brewed this beer roughly twice a year for the past 16 years. Add carbonate to your water if it turns out thin and acidic tasting.
Cause of Death (Dec '06)
Thanks for the hangover, Johnny Max.
DewBrew Flanders Red (Jan-Feb '07)
Great sour beer made by Dan and Joelle Dewberry (both ZEALOTS). It won Best of Show at the Homebrew Inquistion a year or so ago. My wife and I went and brewed this beer with them earlier this year and I have a bucket full of it sitting in a back room. Should be ready to bottle fairly soon.
Copper Ale (Mar-Apr '07)
A balanced, crowd-pleasing beer that isn't any recognizable beer style.
Beelzeboss (Oct '07)
I've been known to brew some odd beers -- Jolly Apple Rancher Lambic (May-Jun '03 and Mar-Apr '05) and Tubers for Victory (Mar-Apr '04) come to mind -- but my current favorite oddball beer is Beelzeboss, a "wheat beer" made using Mt. Dew (the sodapop) as brewing liquor.