It's human nature to want what we can't have. We look fondly at Aston Martins, yachts, Kate Upton and anything else mere mortals can only dream of possessing and envy those who do. So it's only natural that here in the U.S., despite hundreds of amazing craft beers popping up on store shelves virtually everywhere, we gaze wistfully across the deep blue sea toward Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia and wish we could get our grubby mitts on some of the amazing beers they're gleefully downing from bottles and taps.
Sure, plenty of them are exported to America, but some of the best stuff stays home. Whether because there's not enough to go around, a fanatical devotion to serving the stuff on tap, or simply a matter of the brewer not wanting to bother with our labyrinthine distribution regulations, there are literally hundreds of brews that never take the trip to the U.S., leaving it up to adventurous travelers to discover them and bring back word – or sneak a few through customs. So whether heading off to Belfast or Bangladesh, keep an eye out for a few of these and carry the tale back home where we'll all be waiting to hear about the best things we can never have.
De Struise Brouwers Black Damnation – It's no surprise that Belgians brew up some of the finest beers in the world, but it is a little frustrating that they keep so many to themselves. This Russian Imperial Stout is supposedly one of the tastiest dark beers ever made, but that knowledge really doesn't help those of us too broke to jet off to Bruges for a weekend.
Landskron Premium Pilsner – Another country of beer fanatics, Germany is holding out on us, too. Landskron Premium Pilsner is a classic German pils that stands up to the best of any found on continental shores. But if you want a drop, better head out to the city of Gorlitz. They don't make all that much of this stuff and most of it doesn't travel far from home.
Zhuhai Kirin President Brewery Haizhu Beer – The Chinese have their issues with manufacturing, but they've proven to be fast learners on the brewing front. Produced by the makers of Kirin, the classic beer to pair with sweet & sour chicken, Haizhu 12° is a pale lager that makes the rounds in the region, but nowhere near the U.S.
Hansa Draught – Deep in Africa, Namibia is a former German colony that still follows the German Purity Laws for brewing known as Reinheitsgebot. That means its beers have nothing in them they shouldn't, and taste crisp, clean, and delicious. One of the best is only available on draft in the country, according to several distributors, and they say it's worth the trip.
Caracu – South Americans love their beer, too, and Brazil in particular tends to down more than its fair share. What they don't share with us is the Brazilian stout called Caracu. A cross between a milk and a sweet stout that dips its toes into dark lager territory, it's different than virtually anything on tap in North American bars. Oddly enough, it's apparently traditional to mix it with a raw egg – truly the breakfast of Brazilian champions. A few of those and you may be ready to take your shot at Kate Upton after all.
Mountain Goat Steam Ale – Leave it to the Aussies to keep a great beer with them on the bottom of the world. Steam Ale is produced with organic ingredients and is a steam beer – a uniquely American style brew developed in the late 1800s in California. The brewmasters at Mountain Goat keep this taste of the U.S. all to themselves, or at least to their fellow Australians. A few bottles make it home in suitcases and on to eBay, but it's all too rare to see one on our shores.
Bucanero Max – Perhaps the ultimate in forbidden fruit, Bucanero Max is an American Adjunct Ale brewed and bottled in sunny Havana. At 6.5 percent ABV, Castro's people brew this one strong, and like the country's most sought after export, the cigar, it's reputed to be an acquired taste – a complex beer for a complex country. But despite the universal language of malt and hops, the politics remain the same. Obviously, this one isn't about to hit our shores any time soon.