Happy New Year! Hoppy New Year! & Happy New Beers! To all my fellow craft beer lovers the world over.
Here at Craft Beer Confessions, we, like everyone else in the world, tried to set New Years Resolutions and commit to being blah, blah, blah… but the truth of the matter is that we and by we I mean I, I’ve spent much of the new year in the same manner in which I ended last year. That is to say that I’ve been engaged in a pursuit of fantastically crafted and wonderfully delicious craft beer.
While last year brought a lot of changes to the craft beer scene, the most ominous being the rise of “Corpacraft*” (*another article on this coming very soon…); it also afforded the “Craft Beer Community” the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what “craft beer” means to us and whether or not where it comes from or how it gets there is important to us. For some beer drinkers, questions like this are irrelevant as the real question is “how good is what’s currently in my glass?”. But for some of us, the “Craft Beer Purists” who, what, how and why matters. Needless to say that here at CBC, we will only be discussing beers from “respectable*” craft beer brewers not associated with “big beer”. While most of the beer discussed herein is available specifically in or around Orange County, California, there’s a chance you may be able to find some of these beers outside of California.
Those points aside, this first post of 2016 is a psuedo-review of the first 25 beers of 2016. (As an aside, this list shows me it’s time to ease back a little…slow down son!). In this psuedo-review I thought I would focus on the 12 beers that stood out and earned a rating higher than 4 on my 5 point Untappd inspired rating scale. When determining the rating for a beer, I measure it against all other beers of the style that I’ve encountered and not against all beers in general, how drull. But before I go into detail on the best of 2016, so far, here are the brews that did not earn this distinction by style and rating.
Let It Go from Stone Brewing 4
Buoy 1 from Stone Brewing 4
IPA from Stone Brewing 4
Anthia from Unsung Brewing 4
BILF from Massively Miniscule Brewing 4 (*homebrew)
Pliny the Elder from Russian River (almost a year old, like Barleywine) 4
Poseidon from TAPS Fish House and Brewery 4
Imperial Red IPA
Double Red IPA – Winter Seasonal from AleSmith Brewing 4
Rubidium from Bottle Logic Brewing 4
Imperial Red Ale
Toaster Pastry from 21st Amendment Brewery 3.75
American Brown Ale
Hazelnut Brown Nectar from Rogue Ales & Spirits 4
Space Bar Friends from Stone Brewing 4
Tart Red Ale
Money on the Wood from Noble Ale Works 4
As you may notice, the majority of the beers listed above earned a 4 on scale of 5. In other words, these are all, for the most part, delicious beers that I would gladly imbibe again, but it’s the above 4 beers that are what I consider standouts and think everyone should at least try and come to their own conclusion.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers
Darkstar November (Russian Imperial Stout) from Bottle Logic Brewing 5
Shot in the Dark (Imperial Porter) from Tustin Brewing Co. 4.25
When it comes to BBA beers, it’s all about the barrels and for my money, there is nothing better than Buffalo Trace to lend a helping heap of wood to whatever variant of craft beer goodness is placed inside. If you like BBAs, I urge you to try these beers. As Tustin does not bottle, you will have to head right to the source.
Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing Co. 5
Monsters’ Park from Modern Times Beer 4.75
If I can’t have a BBA, an Imperial Stout is the next best thing. Robust, chocolatey, flavorful describe these two offerings perfectly. If you are looking to get there quickly, either of these bad boys will do it Monsters’ Park will only have variants bottled this year, so if you see any of the original around, grab them.
Xocoveza from Stone Brewing Co. 5
I cant get enough of this beer. I see it, I buy it.
American Wild Ale
Agrestic from Firestone Walker Brewing 5
To think this beer started out as DBA is absolutely mind blowing the brewmeisters and blenders at Barrel Works are Magicians.
English Brown Ale
Nut Brown Ale from AleSmith Brewing 4.5
Browns are not typically my style, but i have to pay homage to craftsmanship and as far as browns go, this is probably the best I’ve tried.
Triple IPA (TIPA)
Do you smell what the Waka’s cooking? from Noble Ale Works 4.5
Truism: Noble knows IPAs. Read that as Noble knows DIPAs, Noble knows TIPAs too.
This drinks like a session and its over 10% ABV, too smooth.
Double IPA (DIPA)
Ruination 2.0 from Stone Brewing Co. 4.5
Classics never die, they just sometimes get revamped and improved upon. This one is always an enjoyable drinking experience.
Recursion 7.0 from Bottle Logic Brewing 4.75
IPA from AleSmith Brewing 4.5
IPA from TAPS Fish House and Brewery 4.25
IPAs will always hold a special place in my belly I LOVE HOPS!
While there are numerous delicious IPAs available, these are three of the best I’ve aleady had multiple times this year.
Recursion, now on its 7th iteration is the epitome of a West Coast IPA and can currently be found in bottles around The OC. AleSmith’s IPA is a classic example of West Coast craft that is often overlooked due to its minimalist packaging, don’t sleep on it. Though TAPS has plans to bottle soon, you will have to go to the source(s) for now. Luckily you have 3 options.
Needless to say we here at CBC started off 2016 with a balls to the walls mentality with no signs of slowing down. To think that it’s only the 3rd week of January and we’ve already hit 12 standouts bodes well for the State of Craft Beer in America. What “standout” beers have you drank so far this year? If you haven’t had any yet, hopefully you can use this as a launching pad…
Until next time drink good beer, Craft Beer!
Peace, Love & Beer†!