The other night, I stopped into Byrne Dairy on my way home from a theater job. I placed on the checkout counter two cartons of ice cream, two dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, and a 12-pack of Saranac Octoberfest, brewed just 5 miles down the road. “I can’t let you buy that if she’s here,” said the whippersnapper clerk, indicating 15 year-old Sarah.

I like big beers with strong flavors. My favorite style is India Pale Ale (IPA), known for being hoppy. Six of these are IPAs. Three on the list are from Sierra Nevada – I prefer the types of hops they use. I was surprised that two of my favorite beers are now from Saranac/Matt Brewing Company, in Utica, NY. For years, Saranac cranked out dozens of varieties that tasted mostly similar. Lately, they’ve gotten unique and better.