I woke up this morning with one thought on my mind: Dankness Dojo…
I’m not really sure how the thought got there, I have been thinking about Modern Times’ newest LA hotspot since it opened a few weeks back though. I’m not sure if it was a dream, a desire or just a fluke that led me to finally follow through on thought…
But, regardless of what the cause, I got it in my head to visit today.
A quick perusing of Google Maps and I figured out it would take me 2 buses and about $10 round trip to get from the confines of Anaheim to Downtown LA. So at 9AM this morning I set out to realize a dream.
I got a bit of a late start and missed the first bus by 37 seconds…I wasn’t going to run for it, today was meant to be my Lazy Sunday Funday…So, I decided to keep walking. I made it 5 more bus stops before the next bus actually came. In between, I managed to stop off at Subway for a FlatBread Breakfast Sandwich —had to prepare my belly to drink…
After 45 minutes of riding on an OCTA bus with a dude who pissed himself, I was so ready to transfer to LA Metro…Another hour and 15 minutes saw me shuttled through Buena Park, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs and a shit ton of other cities I’ve never been to; culminating with my delivery to Downtown LA…a second off the bus, some whack job walks past me cursing out demons in Spanish…and I think, City Life……..
I proceed to walk 8 minutes through LA, passing parks and under construction walkways and I think to myself, this is City life…
As I round the corner, I catch a glimpse of lights that spell out the name of my destination: MODERN TIMES…
I walk through the front door and instantly feel at ease.
I walk up to the pouring station, order a flight, sit down and proceed to meet a fellow beer lover.
The crazy part is that he lives a few blocks away from me in Anaheim and had the same idea today…take public transportation up to Modern Times…I think to myself, how crazy and random, but I’ve learned that the universe moves in mysterious ways. We sit, we drink, we shoot the shit and all is right with the world.
He leaves, I remain and think to myself…the beer gods have ordained my path today…its extraordinary, and magically delicious.
My inner Ninja has been satisfied, at the Dankness Dojo…
So, what did I drink?
A flight of tasters, consisting of:
Stencil Crew Hazy DIPA
Nearly as Fast as Light Hazy DIPA brewed in collaboration with Great Notion Brewing
Port Sunlight Hazy DIPA 4
Pescespada Saisony/Bretty Beer, I thought it was labeled Brett IPA, brewed in collaboration with Almanac and this was fantastic, the standout of the flight 4.5
I then proceeded to have full pours of Stencil Crew & Fast as Light…I rated these both at 4.25, with the slight edge going to Stencil Crew.
I was even able to snag a four pack of Lightning Calculator Hazy DIPA.
All in all, it was a successful Brewery Detour and a fantastic day spent roaming SoCal.
If you haven’t been to The Dankness Dojo, I highly recommend it. I even got a barrel aged iced coffee to go from Modern Times Coffee☕️ as a bonus.
Hope your 2018 has been full of delicious craft beer thus far.
According to the Brewers Association, there were 5,301 breweries operating in the United States in 2017. 5,301. Let that sink in.
As I’ve said before, I’m not happy unless I’m drinking a beer that received a rating of at least 4 on my Untappd account. With so much competition in the realm of Craft Beer, I’m very discriminating and a brewery can easily find itself on my DO NOT DRINK list with too many subpar offerings. I’m all for experimentation, but that’s what small batches are for…
What follows is a list of 171 new beers I tried this year from 85 breweries that get it. To be clear, these beers are all good and I would gladly drink them again, they weren’t out of this world…but they were excellent representations of their style.
Listed below, in alphabetic order, are the 85 breweries and their offerings that left me satisfied.
One thing 2017 was for me, was full of delicious Craft Beer…And, while I drank many a decent beer, these 99 beers were just a step above the average. For me, I’m not satisfied unless I’ve drank a beer that I would rate as a 4. And, as I’ve said before, if a brewery isn’t consistently putting out 4s, they should do the world a favor and close their doors…
What follows are 99 beers that received a rating of 4.25 on Untappd. These beers were just a cut above the masses and in the overcrowded world that Craft Beer has become, that’s saying something. Each of these beers had something about them that made them stand out just a bit amongst their peers.
These beers can be broken down into 6 general categories: Barrel Aged Beer, Stouts, Porters, Tart/Sours, Pale Ales and IPAs. These categories are further broken down below. Without further adieu, I present to you 99 bottles of beer that should not be left on the wall…
Barrel Aged Beer
Something special happens to a delicious beer when it’s aged in a barrel. Whether it’s a Wine barrel, Rum barrel or Bourbon Barrel the magnificent flavors that impart themselves into the beer are often times otherworldly…While I generally stray away from spirits, I actually run towards Barrel Aged Beers. This year, these 10 barrel aged beauties were just a cut above their competition. Some notable entrants are the Blackberry Sour that Aliso Viejo’s Stadium Brewing Company previewed at this year’s Sabroso Fest; Royal by Claremont Craft Ales (which I still see on shelves…grab it…age it…enjoy…you’re welcome); and Tustin Brewing Company continuing to master barrel aging with their delicious Kentucky Hug. Below is a further breakdown of the Barrel Aged category along with the beer/brewery.
Fundamental Observation (WOL Preview) by Bottle Logic Brewing
Number Crunch by Bottle Logic Brewing
Sumi Ink by Grimm Artisanal Ales
Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
Fydor’s Classic (2014) by Stone Brewing
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) by Founders Brewing Co.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Mint Mocha Stout
Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Mocha Mint (2017)
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Royal by Claremont Craft Ales
Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine
Sucaba by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
While I’m not a believer in Stout Weather, I am a believer in imbibing delicious stouts whenever and wherever I can get my hands on them. Though I find all manner of stouts delicious, I would have to say that Coffee Stouts are my favorite. Throw in an Imperial moniker and I’m in… Some notable entries on this list are the 2017 GABF Gold Medal winning Wall of Sound by Anaheim’s Stereo Brewing Company (the best beer they make…); Grandpappy Imperial Stout from San Juan Capistrano’s Docent Brewing (these guys should be on your must visit list…); and Imagination Land a Golden Milkstout from Mother Earth Brew Co. (reminiscent of Naughty Sauce).
Below is further breakdown of the category along with the beer/brewery.
City of the Dead Export Coffeee Stout by Modern Times Beer
Wall of Sound Oatmeal Stout by Stereo Brewing Company (GABF Gold Medal Winner)*
Get More Likes (with Kinsmen Brewing) by Kent Falls Brewing Co.
Grandpappy by Docent Brewing
Viva La Beaver! Horchata Milkstout by Belching Beaver Brewery
Imagination Land Golden Milkstout by Mother Earth Brew Co.
Imperial Coffee Stouts
Son of a Baptist by Epic Brewing Co.
Sump Coffee Stout by Perennial Artisan Ales
Tovarish RIS (Burundi) by Beachwood Brewing
You can rest assured that if I love Stouts, their progenitor the Porter style is going to find it’s way onto my list. Notable entries include Tustin Brewing’s Blimp Hangar Porter, which just seems to keep getting better; and a super impressive offering from South of the border from Cervejaria Dogma. Their Imperial Porter was damn near IMPERIAL. Below is a breakdown of the category and the beer/brewery.
Blimp Hangar Porter by Tustin Brewing Co.
Spectral Beast by Relic Brewing Co.
Modern Dogma by Cervejaria Dogma
I have to admit that in an effort to make this nice and neat, I kinda invented a category…None of these beers is a true sour, but their taste/flavor profiles are similar…think of this as a tart beer list with a Belgian thrown in… Some notable beers on this list were Beachwood Blendery’s 3.3e4 from their Propagation Series (someone brought this to the Week of Logic Wrap Party and it stood out to me in an epic game of “No Skips”); and Troglodyte by Anaheim’s Unsung Brewing Co. My first Grisette and man, what a delicious ultra light brew. Below is a further breakdown of the category and the beer/brewery.
Propagation Series No. 3.3e4 by Beachwood Blendery
Guava in Berlin! By Green Cheek Beer Company
Troglodyte by Unsung Brewing Co.
Tart Wheat Ale
Hostile Intent by Bottle Logic Brewing
Seems to me like it’s been a while since anybody brewed a worthwhile Pale Ale…with their hoppy brother dominating the beer world, this relaxing/refreshing style has taken a back seat. But luckily 2017 changed that. Not sure if it was me constantly speaking forth the reemergence of the style into the universe or if brewers just got nostalgic, but either way there were definitely some standouts in both the traditional and hazy iteration of the style. Some notable entries are Field to Ferment a Centennial wet/fresh hopped pale from Seattle’s Fremont Brewing that graced SoCal with distribution this year and Tired Hands Brewing Company in general (they were involved with two Hazies that made this list). Below is a further breakdown of the category and the beer/brewery.
Citra Happy by Artifex Brewing Company
Dymaxion by Modern Times Beer
Street 3, Block 2 by Beachwood Brewing
Field to Ferment (Centennial) by Fremont Brewing
Shire –Pale New Zealand Biter by Pure Project Brewing
Hazy Pale Ales
Jean Hands (with Tired Hands Brewing Company) by Monkish Brewing Co.
Curve My Flight by Green Cheek Beer Company
Intensely Juicy, Dank, Beautiful (Copy & Paste) (with Hill Farmstead Brewery) by Tired Hands Brewing Company
And now, we come to the payoff! Any best of beers list created by me is more than likely going to be dominated by the IPA category and once again, this list is no exception. With everyone and their grandmother brewing this style it takes a lot to stand out. Every beer listed below stood out to me above the masses. While taste is relative, I’m certain that if you love real IPAs, you want to seek out the beers on this list…
Some notes from the list below:
1) 10 First try breweries made this list (Had my first beer from them in 2017)
2) I’m currently labeling Noble Ale Works the “Haze King” of Orange County. (But look out as Evan and Unsung on your tail…)
3) Sparks, Nevada’s Revision Brewing Company should be on your MUST TRY list.
4) My Top 10 Breweries are all over this list…3 of which just cracked my top 10 this year (Pure, Green Cheek, Fieldwork)…
Reckoner by Homage Brewing
Hexagonal IPA by Bottle Logic Brewing
Old Town IPA by Tustin Brewing Company
Lush IPA by Fremont Brewing
Coffee & Milk by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Juicy Secret by New Glory Craft Brewery
Hopful 7 by Beachwood Brewing
Can-a-Bliss (a joint effort with Other Half Brewing Company) by Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Melvin IPA by Melvin Brewing
Gimme by Docent Brewing
Sidekicks (with Alvarado Street Brewery) by El Segundo Brewing Company
Clear AF by El Segundo Brewing Company
DIPAs (Double IPAs)
Blah Blah Blah IPA by 21st Amendment Brewery
Super Beer Bros – Level 1 (with Grains of Wrath Brewing) by El Segundo Brewing Company
Leo v. Ursus: Fortem by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Lupine by Pipeworks Brewing Company
Greenshift by Beachwood Brewing
Tell Shaky and Boxcar Joe DDH IIPA by SingleCut Beersmiths
Power Glove (with Noble Ale Works) by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Left Eye, Right Eye by Track 7 Brewing Company
Tetra City by Modern Times Beer
PUNCH-OUT!! (with Fieldwork Brewing Company) by Noble Ale Works
Dank Energy by Beachwood Brewing
Leo v. Ursus: Inferos by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
TIPA (Triple IPAs)
Tundra by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Golden Pineapple by Modern Times Beer
Centaur Gardens by Modern Times Beer
Goblin Rock by Modern Times Beer
Crowler Phil by Noble Ale Works
Good Googly Moogly by Noble Ale Works
I Edited It by Noble Ale Works
Countout! by Noble Ale Works
Taking It To The Extreme by Noble Ale Works
UP UP: Konami Code by Bottle Logic Brewing
LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT: Konami Code by Bottle Logic Brewing
B A: Konami Code by Bottle Logic Brewing
Double Dragon by Bottle Logic Brewing
Sink or Swim by Green Cheek Beer Company
Soft Skin by Green Cheek Beer Company
A Salute To Classic Beers (with Cellarmaker Brewing Company) by Green Cheek Beer Company
Supercollider by Brouwerij West
Picnic Lightning by Brouwerij West
Battle-Scarred Shogun by Monkish Brewing Co.
Galaxy Juice by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Snacktime (with Finback Brewing) by Civil Society Brewing
90s R&B by Mumford Brewing
Cold Side by Magnify Brewing Company
28 Haze Later… by Beachwood Brewing
Hop Swingers (with Burgeon Beer Company) by Artifex Brewing Company
Master Shredder by The Veil Brewing Co.
Altered Dankopotamus by Hog Dogma Brewing Co.
DDH Rinse/Repeat (with Motueka and Wakatu) by Westbrook Brewing Co.
Broken Filter (with Beachwood Brewing) by AleSmith Brewing Company
Planet Lovetron by Revision Brewing Company
Galaxy Sauce by Fieldwork Brewing Company
East Coast Bias by HenHouse Brewing Company
Men at Murk (with Highland Park Brewery & Alvarado Street Brewery) by Noble Ale Works
Cool Runoffs by Alvarado Street Brewery
Crucial Taunt by The Veil Brewing Co.
The Bruff by Revision Brewing Company
Xylophone Tones by Monkish Brewing Co.
Foggy Window by Monkish Brewing Co.
CANniversary by Noble Ale Works
CANniversary (with peaches) by Noble Ale Works* (this beer improved to near perfection with the last can…)
And there you have it folks, 99 beers from 2017 that shouldn’t be left on the wall but should be taken down and enjoyed ; share them if you have to…
I hope that your 2018 overflows with delicious, soul satisfying Craft Beer!
I am not sure why, but quantifying and categorizing things makes me happy. Maybe it’s the time spent in reflection or the beauty of bringing order to chaos. Either way, I thoroughly enjoy taking a look back at some of the special beers I drank this past year. What follows is a list of beers that I rated as 4.5 on Untappd. These beers were definitely above average but just shy of perfection or near-perfection for that matter.
Winter Beers? Summer Beers? I’ll drink a good stout regardless of what the calendar says. This year, these stouts were just above the competition.
Evan from Green Cheek Beer Company didn’t skip a step or fall off this year. His Failing Up Coffee Stout was a welcome addition to the OC Stout Scene.
Those wizards currently from San Diego, Modern Times Beer, offered a fantastic variant of their flagship Oatmeal Coffee Stout. Black House w/Toasted Coconut & Cocoa Nibs Oatmeal Stout was especially nice if you could find it on Nitro!
The same year we saw Orange County graced with the AMAZINGNESS that is Beachwood Brewing, they managed to offer up two fantastic Russian Imperial Stouts. Tovarish (2016) Russian Imperial Stout was simply divine and the Elida Coffee Variant was to die for…
Recent kids on the block, San Juan Capistrano’s Docent Brewing had a strong offering with their Tonic Oatmeal Coffee Stout that was all the rage at craft beer festivals this year. I had the pleasure of serving it at OC Brew Ha Ha 2017.
Meanwhile, stalwart veterans, AleSmith Brewing Company canned their iconic Speedway Imperial Stout and lord was (2017) DELICIOUS!
2017 also afforded me the opportunity to finally try Great Notion Brewing. Someone brought a crowler of Double Stack Imperial Stout to the Week of Logic Wrap Party and holy hell, I finally love pancakes. If this was more fresh, I’m sure it would have been a perfect 5…
As in years past, my love of all things barrel aged, led me down a path of many a fantastic barrel aged beer. When it came to classics the brewmeisters at Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Hangar 24 Craft Brewery continued to deliver as this year’s Parabola (2017) and Pugachev’s Cobra (2016) were two near perfect Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stouts.
Collaborations were all the rage this year. Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing collaborated with Florida’s J. Wakefield Brewing to produce a superb Rum Barrel Aged Porter. The Week of Logic preview of Mxyzptlk was so different and delicious, somehow the name just fit this beer.
Bottle Logic kept the Florida collaboration theme going by teaming up with 3 Sons Brewing to produce Fundamental Summation a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout. I swear that the preview was somehow better than the bottled version…I rated the WOL Preview at 4.75…maybe it just tasted so good after running around working…
Deschutes Brewery in collaboration with Hair of The Dog Brewing Company painted an almost perfect picture with their Collage #2 Barrel Aged Blended Ale, which featured a blend of beers from each brewery.
I’ve said it before, if I have to drink a Lager, it had better be some type of bock and what better bock than a Dopplebock. And what better Dopplebock than a true German Dopplebock. Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan is the first German Brewery to grace the pages of Craft Beer Confessions. But, I have to celebrate craftsmanship and their Wehenstephaner Korbinian Dopplebock was textbook perfect and just a little bit above…
Though mead is featured in one of my all time favorite movies, The 13th Warrrior, this warrior had to wait until 2017 to have such deliciousness grace his lips. I normally don’t like drinks that are sweet, but this Mead and Braggot were just too good not to give them props.
Another fellow attendee to the Week of Logic Wrap Party was Schramm’s Mead’s Blackberry Mead and I must admit that I personally snaked everybody and hit this bottle twice during our game of “No Skips”…
Bottle Logic Brewing themselves also offered a fantastic Braggot in collaboration with Superstition Meadery. The Week of Logic Preview of Iridium Flare was the first and only braggot I’ve ever imbibed, so I have nothing to measure it against, but if this is what Braggots are like, sign me up…
As IPAs and their derivatives were my most drank styles of 2017, it makes sense that they would hold a disproportional amount of spaces on each of my lists; and this list is no different…
While I’m not opposed to Session IPAs, few of them can hold up to my flavor standards. But the award winning Nose Candy from Noble Ale Works is a wake up call for the nostrils and the palate. I swear I rated this beer last year, but the overlords at Untappd said no, so here it is on this year’s near perfect list…
If I could drink only one beer style for the rest of existence, it would be the Black IPA, and this year Bottle Logic Brewing’s Circadian Rhythm hit all my harmonic sweet spots. I really think that only a different or tweaked hop profile could improve this beer. It was so dark and delicious…
Speaking of dark and delicious how about triplicious? That’s just what Black Market Brewing Co.’s Black Belt Triple IPA was. I would think it’s impossible to balance this beast enough to be a perfect 5, but damn did this Temecula outfit come close…Superb.
In the inundated realm of IPAs, it’s so hard to stand out and make a name for yourself these days, but El Segundo Brewing Company continued to dominate the SoCal IPA scene. Their Bursted Series: Nelson Sauvin IPA was a terrific Single Hop brew that left folks wanting to sample the entire series.
Meanwhile, San Diego’s Modern Times Beer offered a fantastic South African hopped IPA named Triton Project; that paired perfectly with the Super Bowl.
And in an unexpected twist a North Carolina brewery delivered a near perfect West Coast IPA. Wilmington’s New Anthem Beer Project with their New Jack IPA solidified the myth that there is something in the water in southern North Carolina…
As the “Hazy” IPA style continued to gain momentum this year, West Coast breweries continued to perfect it. And OC breweries were among some of the quickest to adapt to the style. Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing had some solid offerings in their Konami Code Hazy IPA Series and DOWN DOWN was a standout amongst the group.
Meanwhile, Orange’s Green Cheek Beer Company experimented with and near perfected the style in months. No Complaints, no that’s the beer’s name, but no complaints on this Hazy IPA here, well, almost none, but I respect experimentation…
If you truly know me, you know that I truly love Double IPAs. With so many examples to choose from, it’s quite amazing that these four stood out amongst the masses, but nevertheless, they did.
New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing Company delivered one of the most original and most delicious DIPAs of the year. Their Most Important Meal Hazy Breakfast DIPA brewed in collaboration with TOCA Coffee, had me asking what the fuck is a Breakfast DIPA. But let me tell you that after I drank it, I was asking where the hell can I get more Breakfast DIPAs? Like seriously, I need one for tomorrow and Tuesday, and…
San Diego’s Modern Times Beer laid an almost perfect Jurassic egg with their Dinosaur World Hazy DIPA. And though I missed cans, I drank it on draft and can only imagine how it morphed with age…
Orange County Haze Masters, Noble Ale Works further solidified their role with Drops of Jupiter a Hazy DIPA that I had the pleasure of serving at their Anniversary Party. This beer even got a canning run, though it was still highly underrated…
And capping the list, Green Cheek Beer Company also dabbled in near perfect Hazy DIPAs with their The Other Brian which should have been canned, but I’ll take the crowler…
In the end, these 27 beers would make any self respecting beer drinker happy and should be on your wishlist if you truly love delicious craft beers. These beers run the gambit of flavors and offer an excellent jumping off point for the wannabe craft beer lover.
Go forth and find these beers. And if you stumble upon one you really like, drop me a line, let me know…
I pray that your 2018 overflows with near-perfect craft beers.
In my “never-ending” quest to discover my “perfect beer” this year (notice I say my, as “the” perfect beer can only exist to you…), I came across 12 almost perfect beers. This dirty dozen was just so close, but in the end needed just a bit more to be there with the elite beers of 2017. I would call this 2017’s B Team… (though more of an A- really…) to be clear, all of these beers were FANTASTIC!
If you’re anything like me, you rate beers within an instant of the first taste/smell. You know as soon as that sweet, hoppy, malty goodness hits your tongue how this beer in particular, sizes up against the examples you’ve enjoyed from that style. And though some beers do seem to “improve” as they warm, I usually go with my first impression. These were the beers that I rated as 4.75 on Untappd.
Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works led the way taking up 1/4 of this year’s “Almost Perfect” 12-pack. Whether it’s fantastic Hazy DIPAs or Imperial Coffee Stouts, Noble was on point all year long.
Double Platinum and the brewery only release Because You’re Worth It provided further proof that Noble knows Hazy DIPAs (see my Best of 2017 post for their best).
Ending the year with a fantastic canned Imperial Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with 2nd Craft was brilliant as was the name, Whoomp! There It Is, and there it was indeed with such toasty, roasty, delicious coffee flavor!
In classic Bottle Logic fashion, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing added 2 Barrel Aged entries to this year’s twelver. When it comes to Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts, Bottle Logic is Orange County’s “Lord of the Dance”. This year’s Week of Logic preview of their now iconic Fundamental Observation was almost perfect (and that was a preview, mind you…).
Vamp up their Ground State with an infusion of Mostra Coffee and you have Reaction State (which hopefully remains part of the Stasis Project) another in a long line of fantastic coffee infused collaborations from this awesome duo. So much delicious coffee flavor that blended almost perfectly with that bourbon…
Surprisingly, Hazy IPAs and DIPAs took up another 1/4 of this 12-pack. When it comes to Hazies in Southern California most people think of one brewery and that brewery, Monkish Brewing Co. added a fantastic Double Dry Hopped Double IPA to the pack. Foggier Window was an amped up version of Foggy Window (which I rated at 4.25) where the DDH did so much to make this beer even more delicious.
And although they were the new kid on the block this year, Orange’s Green Cheek Beer Company jumped right in and claimed a spot on Orange County’s list of Haze Master’s. Their Wherever You Land Hazy IPA was a delicious burst of West Coast Haze illustrating just how quickly Evan mastered this style while staying true to his West Coast roots.
Another newer OC brewery to quickly establish themselves as being in the know when it comes to the Haze Craze was Anaheim’s (or is it Tustin’s?) Unsung Brewing Co. — They wowed me with Triangulum from their Nebuloid IPA Series and left me thirsting for more…(still have to try that Cat’s Cradle…)
Not surprisingly, 2 DIPAs, West Coast Style Double IPAs, to be exact made this year’s “Almost Perfect” pack. Perennial All-Stars El Segundo Brewing Company did not disappoint with their Wet Hopped Citra-Mongous DIPA that was so close to being perfect, I bet it was at their tasting room…
San Diego’s Modern Times Beer (Who’s gonna claim them next year?) saw fit to somehow try and improve on their masterpiece flagship beer Blazing World, by making a double Dry Hopped Version and they almost succeeded at perfection. Mega Blazing World was an other-worldly Hoppy Amber though they have yet to finally admit it’s an IPA…
The only beer in my “Almost Perfect” 12-pack not from a California brewery was this year’s Christmas Bomb! From Prairie Artisan Ales. This massive 13% Imperial Stout went down way too easy!
[I’d like to thank the good folks at Bradley’s in Tustin, CA for always keeping me stocked with fantastic beer and always looking out for me. Much Love!]
The final entry and definitely the “Most Interesting” beer I’ve ever tasted in my entire life was riip Beer Company’s Kalua Porker, a Pork, yes PORK! Infused Baltic Porter. This was the brain child of Trevor and this year’s addition to Firkfest. I was fortunate to get to serve this beer at the festival and I may or may not have taken home a growler…I couldn’t just dump all that deliciousness as instructed…sorry Trev!
So there you have it folks, my 12 pack of “Almost Perfect” Beers (which oddly enough is exactly half as many as “Perfect” beers I had this year…)
And while I’m never one to tell people what they should drink, I’d highly suggest that you put these beers on your radar and if they are still available, find them!
I hope your 2017 was full of fantastic Craft Beer and that your 2018 overflows with your perfect and almost perfect brews.
2017 has come and gone and this year, 23 beers have left a lasting impression on my palate.
One brewery led the way with 6 entries on this most prestigious list, and that brewery was Orange, California’s Green Cheek Brewery. Evan and company burst on to the scene in 2017 and actually earned 7 entries on the best of list, one entry was in collaboration with El Segundo Brewing Company…
What followed was an all out assault on the craft beer world with such fantastic West Coast Inspired releases as Radiant Beauty IPA, West Coast is Dead IPA and West in Peace DIPA.
The assault continued into the realm of Hazy IPAs with Attack With Love and even branched out into the Lager realm with Bier and Evan’s Michelada (A Must Have on any Brewery Visit!).
When it came to Bourbon Barrel Aged Offerings, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing still reigned supreme; with such offerings as Fundamental Observation
and a coffee infused variant FOMO brewed in collaboration with Mostra Coffee.
Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works kept themselves relevant in light of Evan’s departure, with some wondrous Hazy DIPAs; Starting off the year with 24K Juice
and ending it strong with a DDH version, known as 48K Juice.
Much like Green Cheek, San Diego’s Pure Brewing Project took the craft beer world by storm this year and cranked out such solid offerings as Murklands, a Hazy Pale Ale and Digital Detox, a Hazy IPA that were both to die for…
The West Coast IPA saw some righteous treatment from San Diego’s Alpine Brewing with their super dank release of Windows Up. And Beachwood Brewing solidified their role as West Coast Masters with a Double Dry Hopped version of their Melrose IPA.
Hazy Pale Ales made a strong showing this year with fantastic releases from HenHouse Brewing, their #Stoked Series was off the hook !
and New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing, whose Low Visibility Pale showed just how far down these cats could boogie…
Stouts were alive and well the country over this year; as evidenced by such strong releases as North Carolina’s Burial Brewing Co.’s Skillet Donut Stout
Utah’s Epic Brewing’s fabled Big Bad Baptista Mexican Inspired BA Imperial Stout
Denver, Colorado’s consistently epic Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Oatmeal Stout from the masters at Great Divide Brewing Company,
and Costa Mesa, California’s The Patsy courtesy of Barley Forge Brewing Co. brewed in collaboration with Thunder King Coffee.
This year, 2 sours/ American Wild Ales even made the list with Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks and their barrel wizard Sour Jim introducing us to Krieky Bones and the Bay Area’s The Rare Barrel who wowed me with Ensorcelled…
While 2017 was loaded full of delicious Craft Beers, these 24 were the standouts and should be on any self respecting craft beer lovers radar. I would never say these are the “best” as taste is relative, but if you are looking for a gateway to great beer, look no further.
I hope your 2018 is full of Fantastic , Independent Craft Beer!
In today’s “craft beer” scene a large group of “beer drinkers” have begun flocking towards “new” and “untested” offerings at the expense of perfected and dialed-in “flagship” beers. A walk down the aisle at any “in the know” liquor store or liquor chain, quickly reveals a dizzying bevy of beer offerings that is enough to leave even the seasoned connoisseur feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. A large reason for this is craft brewer’s attempts to find the newest and latest taste profile that aligns with the palate of folks who are looking for a quick fix of exsclusivity rather than a liquid piece of art. I for one, am of the opinion that while “new” is good, “dialed-in” is better. Unfortunately, in our rush to discover, we often forget to remember, and as a result miss out on the dependability that the “old” has to offer. I have to admit that even I have found myself caught up in the hysteria at times, but thankfully I’m always prompted to take a step back.
I recently was in the mood for a delicious Stout and perusing the aisles, at my local chain store, I made eye contact with an old friend.
“You believe!” He said to me. “We’ve sat and pondered existence, not just mine, but yours too, plenty a time”.
“We have.” I retorted.
And proceeded to take him from his place on the shelf. Though it had been quite some time since we’d last spoke, we picked up right where we left off.
And I swear that he’d even gotten better. Or maybe, nostalgia just brings out the best in people…
[Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, was one of the first really fantastic stouts I tried while beginning my journey down the path of craft beer. So hoppy, toasty and delicious; I can best describe it as a Stout/IPA Hybrid. It’s just so thick, hearty and rounded. Great Divide has been doing it right for over two decades. And if you’re a self respecting beer drinker, but have never tried them, I’d recommend — everything. Go build yourself a sixer. You have to love a company whose slogan is “Great minds drink alike” and then backs it up with their offerings.]
My experience reminded me that life isn’t always about passing fancies, and sometimes you have to remember what you forgot, because dependability is truly a virtue.
Now, I’m not advocating an end to new releases and experimentation, But I just think that in our rush to emulate in order to innovate, we’re starting to lose some of the artisanship and craftsmanship that made us fall in love with “micro-brews” in the first place.
I’m glad that I remembered what I hadn’t forgotten, but just hadn’t thought about in a while — sometimes, you just need to Yeti…
Hopefully’ craft beer lovers the world over don’t forget to drink the “classics”.
If you’ve been a fan of craft beer long enough, chances are that you’ve taken a walk or at the very least a gander down the road of Home Brewing. Though it’s not for everyone, it certainly is fascinating to watch someone who really gets it.
Lucky for me, I have a friend who’s “home brewing” operation is not your run-of-the-mill, something you see every day sort of set up. Like all masterful Brewers, Joe M., as he shall be called, built almost every piece of his set-up with his own two hands…from drilling into kettles, to crafting his own temperature gauge and pumping system, he dives in to any challenge that arises. And the end result is truly a glorious work to behold. Maybe it’s his German ancestry, or the fact that he’s an artist and a muscian, or maybe it’s just the fact that he’s a renaissance man…either way, I’m lucky to be in his company and to be able to learn the ways of the craft…
In our latest brewing adventure, Massively Minuscule Brewing, brewed up a variant of one of our flagship beers, Coal Miner’s Hands, a Robust Porter. (Think Chocolatey Goodness in beer form…)
But before we kicked the day off, we toasted to a great brew day! I was blessed with a bottle of Evil Twin & Trillum’s Stout baby: Dusk trill Dawn, from a friend out in New York and this was the perfect occasion to take down this beast. This lovely taste of coffee stout was exactly the little sip we needed to start the day off right.
With the ceremonies out of the way, and the water all boiled and ready to go, we set our sights on dialing in the Robust Porter. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten giddy over science at work, but this process is something truly exciting to learn. So much knowledge to be gained…Here’s a look at the “recipe”.
The Mash Tun is where the magic really starts to happen. Here, Head Brewer, Joe M. checks the gauges to ensure a proper brew.
Water is life and such a key component to the process, luckily we have some decent water in Tustin and a charcoal filter certainly helps…A look inside the Mash Tun:
If you’ve ever home brewed, you’ve heard the term “sparging”. The Sparge Arm is a key component of the brewing setup.
Litmus Test? Something like that. Again, science at work. Ph is important to ensure you get the result you anticipated.
The third and final kettle, the boil kettle is where the mash meets the hops. Joe M. recently upgraded the brew rig with a hop filter and ever the perfectionist, created a filter for that filter…this was in hopes of eliminating a clogging issue. Though the new filter modification did not work as anticipated, it set the stage for more tinkering and perfecting. A home brewer’s work is never done…A look inside the Boil Kettle:
Though brewing operations are full of lots of equipment and scientific type items, there should always be room for fun! A spectrometer is used to check your gravity levels in order to determine your beer’s ABV. But most folks just think it’s “neat” to look through, makes them seem scientific…
When all 3 kettles have completed their work, into the conical fermenter the luscious, aromatic liquid goes…it will be weeks before this concoction of water, barley, hops and yeast is ready to please palates.
Even after the fermenter is hard at work there is still work to be done. Cleaning up and getting ready for the next brew day is the most important part of the day.
Luckily, MMB has it’s own resident “cleaner” who gets down on it until the job is done…
And once everything is nice and clean and put away…well, we enjoy some fruits of previous labors and anticipate the day when Coal Miner’s Hands Robust Porter hits the taps at West Coast Brewer…
Hopefully you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the joy of home brewing. On any scale, it is certainly an undertaking and something that requires passion and dedication to be done correctly. I only wish that I could share the fruits of Massively Minuscule Brewing with you…perhaps someday…Until then, keep brewing up and supporting deliciously crafted Craft Beer and Home Brew!
By now, 2016 has hopefully washed out of everyone’s systems, and we are ready for a new year full of new hopes and new beers!
But before I close the chapter on the year that was 2016, I wanted to take a quick moment to recognize some excellence in brewmeistering that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With the advent of apps like Untappd, it’s become so easy for people to rank, rate and comment on others’ work without ever taking the time to step back and really look at and appreciate some of the liquid accomplishments that we all enjoy and love. Sure, the best beer is the one in your hand, but when you collect beers like I do (by collect beers, I mean collect tastes, flavors, beer names, abvs..sorry, I’m weird) it’s important to take the time to make some sense of all the data that’s been collected.
While my recent posts have focused on beers that received ratings of 4.5 and higher, this post focuses on those beers that were just a step-above the average beers I drank this year. The bulk of beers I drank this year received a rating of 4. For me, if you are a brewery and you are not brewing a line-up that averages in the 4s, you don’t belong in the business. Your friends like your beers and they like any beers…Thankfully, there are a slew of breweries across the country (and even the world…one brew from the Other Side made this list…) that are consistently putting out fantastic beers and even when they are experimenting, they are using the experiences to learn, revise and perfect the liquid goodness that we all then get to enjoy.
The beers on this list received a rating of 4.25 on Untappd (brew_fiend). I have divided the beers up into the following categories: Brown Ales, Witbiers, Lagers, Sours, Porters, Stouts, Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers and IPAs
Brown Ale: This is a style I don’t usually drink, but anomalies exist…And this year one such anomaly made this list.
Witbier: One of my least favorite styles of beer. If it makes my list, it’s a must try for style lovers…The lone specimen is a textbook example of the style.
Lagers: Me and Lagers are like Britain and the EU…that is to say that we really don’t like each other, but when push comes to shove, we can make nice…The fact that there are Lagers, plural, on this list; even amazes me…two?
Sours: Though I am not a huge fan of sours, I will always give credit to fantastic brewmeistering. The 3 sours that made this list are well worth seeking out.
Porters: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Coffee Porters and Imperial Porters. These two almost stouts are worth a whirl…
Stouts: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Stouts, Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Coffee Stouts and all manner of Imperial Stouts. This year proved once again that I LOVE STOUTS! And from the wave crashed shores of sunny Southern California to the Windy City of my birth, America’s Craft breweries are turning out some fantastic boundary pushing brews. The 12-pack I’m serving up is a bevy of all manner of that rich, thick, roasty goodness we all love.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers: This group contains beers that have been aged in Bourbon Barrels. While the bulk are Stouts, some Porters and Strong Ales may have snuck in there…It’s been said that 7 is god’s perfect number. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that seven beers made this year’s cut…
IPAs: This grouping can be further sub-divided into IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Black IPAs. The Black IPA sub-category encompasses Black IPAs and Double Black IPAs. It’s pretty obvious from this list what my favorite style of beer is…Unlike Sammy Hagar, 55 is a number I find pleasing and easy to remember. This year there were 55 IPAish beers that deserve a nod for being just a notch better than the rest.
The 83 beers that made this list are divided into Style. Beers within each style are listed alphabetically by Brewery then ABV where applicable.
As always, these beers are rated against the style they represent and not all beer in general…
If you are reading this, chances are that you’ve tried most of the beers on this list. And on the off chance you haven’t, you really should as these are some excellent examples of their individual styles.
Beer: Shot In The Dark Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter ABV: 11.8% Brewery: Tustin Brewing Co.
Fact: Beachwood, Bottle Logic, Modern Times, Monkish and Noble will always have SoCal on the map when it comes to fan-tastic IPAs! Though we’re always flying that West Coast Style Flag, we got this Haze on lock too…
While some may think that rating a beer is arbitrary, I find that rating beers allows me to personalize and quantify my drinking experience. I have a fairly good ability to recall how a beer tastes or the feelings it evoked, but rating it allows me to measure it against the other beers of the style that I have tried. The beauty of drinking Craft Beer is that everything is relative. Everyone has flavors they do and don’t like. Something I find amazing may underwhelm or overwhelm someone else. What follows is an account of the 58 beers that landed right on my sweet spot…I find that most great beers I try are in the 4.25 to 4.5 range on my 5 point scale. But today, I am concerned with those beers that received a rating of 4.5 on my Untappd account (Brew_Fiend)
I’ve broken the beers up into categories:
The One-Offs: These are beers that are from various styles. There were only 6 so this seemed like the best way to categorize them…anomalies…
Sours: The category name speaks for itself. Though I am not a huge fan of sours, I will always pay homage to something that tastes fantastic. The 3 sours that caught my tongue are well worth seeking out.
Barrel Aged Beers: This group contains beers that have been aged in Wine Barrels, Bourbon Barrels or a combination of both. Though truly an undertaking, this is one of my favorite styles. This year, 8 Beers were worthy of the close to perfect badge.
Stouts: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Stouts, Imperial Stouts and Specialty Stouts. Easily one of my favorite styles, I was lucky enough to try 7 supremely fantastic stouts this year.
Porters: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Porters and Imperial Porters. There were 3 stand up porters I tried this year that approached perfection.
IPAs: This grouping can be further sub-divided into IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Specialty IPAs. The Specialty IPA sub-category encompasses Session IPAs, Coffee IPAs and Double Black IPAs. Easily my favorite style of beer, there were 31 beers I tried this year that satisfied my Hop-thirst and had me craving more!
I wonder how many of these brews would be on your “Almost Perfect” List?
Hope your 2016 was filled with fantastic, real, independent craft beer! Looking forward to what America’s Craft Breweries have in store for us in 2017. Regardless of what your mood is going into 2017, be thankful that no matter what: We always have BEER!
Prost to a Blessed and Fruitful 2017! Happy New Year to You and Yours!
Wheat Ales, Brown Ales and German style beers are my least favorite. While I don’t go out of my way to try them, I will at times dabble and on occasion, I find an excellently executed example of the style. Pale Ales are one of my favorite styles of beer, though I feel that it’s been a long time since anyone has really done the style justice…What follows are the “anomalies” that I imbibed this year. I will always give props to true craftsmanship.
Beer: Hell or High Watermelon Style: Session Wheat Ale ABV: 4.9% Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Beer: Nut Brown Ale Style: Brown Ale ABV: 5% Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.
Beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale Style: American Strong Ale ABV: 7.2% Brewery: Arrogant Brewing
Beer: Long Bocks on the Beach Style: Dunkelweizen ABV: 6.9% Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
Beer: Corporate Ladder Style: Pale Ale ABV: 5.2% Brewery: Civil Society Brewing
Beer: Jungle Boogie Style: Pale Wheat Ale ABV: 5.4% Brewery: Marz Community Brewing Co.
Sours…I must say that this is a style that has grown on me over time. I drink a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar religiously every morning, so it was only a matter of time before I started down the path of the pucker…It takes a lot for me to hoot and holler about a Sour. These are 3 that should be on your “DO TRY” List. Trust me.
Beer: Tart of Darkness (2016) Style: Sour Ale ABV: 6.6% Brewery: Bruery Terreaux
Beer: Cuddlebug Style: Sour Ale ABV: 4.5% Brewery: Smog City Brewing
I don’t like Hard Alcohol, but…I am a sucker for anything Bourbon Barrel Aged and apparently Wine Barrel Aged and…basically any Barrel Aged is A-OK with me! While this list is Stout heavy, the other beers on this list are no slouches! If spirits make you do weird things, but you love the flavor, Barrel Aged Beers may be your salvation…they are mine.
Beer: Oblivion Style: Wine Barrel Aged Flanders Red Ale ABV: 8.7% Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing
Beer: The Stoic (2015) Style: Barrel Aged Belgian Quad ABV: 10.9% Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
Beer: Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout ABV: 11% Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths
Fact, I LOVE STOUTS! I must give credit where credit is due and thank Guinness for taking me down the path of the Dark Side. Though these days, I’ve upped my stout game to the “N”th degree…Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Coffee Stouts—if you got ’em, I want ’em…ALL. These almost perfect stouts should be on any self-respecting stout lovers list…
Beer: Heavy Boots Of Lead Style: Imperial Stout ABV: 11% Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths
I love history. I love beer. Beer History is the equivalent of an Acid Flashback for me…that is to say that it is highly enjoyable! Porter is the progenitor of the modern day stout. Again, thanks to Guinness for deciding to Stout up their Porter and Export it out of Ireland. The only thing as good as an Excellent Stout, is a Rich, Flavorful Porter and these are 3 such Porters…
Beer: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Style: Porter ABV: 6.4% Brewery: Funky Buddha Brewery
Beer: Lumppacoal Style: Imperial Porter ABV: 11% Brewery: Noble Ale Works
Beer: Stone 6th Anniversary Porter Style: Imperial Porter ABV: 8% Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
My Shangri-La. Hoppy, Hoppy oh and Hoppy! If I could only drink one style of beer for the rest of my life, it would hands down be IPA. There is something about a nice bitter glass of India Pale Ale that just makes my heart sing. And, I love every style of IPA. Be it, Single, Double, Triple, Session, Coffee, Red, Black…whatever! So long as it’s hoppy and preferably resinous; I’m in HEAVEN! Below is a list of all manner of IPAs that approached perfection in 2016. (This list is arranged Alphabetically by Brewery)
*This is a Hop Head’s list. No balanced IPAs made this list