PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Back in 1996, Boston Beer's (SAM - Get Report) Samuel Adams released a beer from its LongShot homebrewing competition that had the body and flavor of hazelnut coffee with almost none of the beer bite.
It was called Hazelnut Brown Ale, and it was magnificent. For about 16 years, it was also impossible to find. That tends to be the case with one-off, special edition beers, but in a craft beer environment awash in milk stouts, coffee porters, chocolate stouts and other decadent, malty delights, Hazelnut Brown Ale's absence was a mystery. Oregon's Rogue produced a much stiffer version, but nothing came close to that sweet offering Sam Adams brewed so long ago.
Last year, in its fall variety pack, Samuel Adams pulled Hazelnut Brown Ale out of hibernation and re-dubbed it simply Hazel Brown. It was sweet yet appropriately bitter, it was just a bit spicy and, more importantly, it was a close approximation of the 1996 recipe that was suddenly, readily available.
The state of craft beer is similar to Bruce Springsteen's wizened take on Atlantic City: Everything dies, that's a fact, but maybe everything that dies some day comes back. With small brewers now constituting a $10 billion industry far more stable than the initial microbrew surge of the 1980s and 1990s, faded labels that didn't quite make it to the other side are suddenly being resurrected.When Legacy Brewing in Reading, Pa., went under in 2009, it took brews such as its hop-stuffed IPA Hoptimus Prime with it. Just two years later, Ruckus Brewing bought the rights to the Legacy beers and began producing them again. After Denver's Tivoli Beer went under in 1969, it took more than 44 years before local brewers revived it. So what other beers are just waiting for their richer progeny to pull them back from the dead? We walked along craft beer's timeline and found four essential brews just waiting for someone to revive their recipes. This is by no means a definitive list, but it's a way to get the ball rolling. If we're missing one of your long-lost favorites, please let us know: