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Dankness Dojo…

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.

✌🏽❤️🍻

BrewFiend

85 Breweries, doing it right…

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.

Abnormal Beer Co. (San Diego, CA)

  • New Money – Hazy IPA 7% ABV

Aftershock Brewing Co. (Temecula, CA)

  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale – Brown Ale 5.5% ABV

AleSmith Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)

  • Hawaiian Speedway Stout (2017) – Imperial Stout 12% ABV

Alvarado Street Brewery (Monterey, CA)

Vengeful
There’s some debate as to what this beer was supposed to be. Some people tried a hazy, me I tried a tasty West Coaster…Vengeful Barbarian (Confused IPA)…
  • When Doves Cryo – Hazy IPA 7% ABV
  • Vengeful Barbarian – IPA 7.2% ABV
  • Hive Mind (with Pure Project Brewing) – DIPA 8.5% ABV
  • Froth Bite – Hazy IPA 6.4% ABV

Amplified Ale Works (San Diego, CA)

  • Electrocution – IPA 7.2% ABV
  • Trois Cabrones (with Alvarado Street Brewery) – Hazy DIPA 8.5% ABV
  • Soundcheck – IPA 7.8% ABV
  • Get A Grip (w/Coffee) – Coffee Milkstout 4.6%

Artifex Brewing Company (San Clemente, CA)

  • Amarillo Happy – Pale Ale 5.5% ABV

Asylum Brewing (Anaheim, CA)

  • Fairweather Friend – Pale Ale 4.7% ABV
  • Casanova Frankenstein – Imperial Stout 9.5% ABV
  • Rorschach – Brown Ale 6.2% ABV

Bagby Beer Company (Oceanside, CA)

  • Struggle Bus – Pale Ale 4.8%

Barley Forge Brewing Co. (Costa Mesa, CA)

  • Karl Hungus – Schwarzbier 5.2% ABV

BarrelHouse Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, CA)

Celebratory Ale
The most unique beer I enjoyed in 2017. Celebratory Ale is a Foeder Aged Stout Snakebite…unlike anything I’ve ever had…
  • Celebratory Ale No. 4 – Foeder Aged Stout Snakebite 8.3% ABV

Beachwood Blendery (Long Beach, CA)

  • Chaos Is a Friend of Mine – Lambic 6.5% ABV

Beachwood Brewing (Long Beach, CA)

  • Hop Ninja – DIPA 8.9% ABV
  • Laurel – IPA 7.1% ABV
  • Robusta Rhymes – Porter 7% ABV

Bear Republic Brewing Company (Cloverdale, CA)

  • Fastback Racer – DIPA 10.4% ABV
  • Racer X – DIPA 8.3% ABV

Belching Beaver Brewery (Vista, CA)

Phantom Bride
I’m not really into Band/Beer Collaborations as I think they are gimmicky as fuck, but this Deftones inspired IPA was legit…
  • Phantom Bride IPA – IPA 7.1% ABV

Bells’ Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI)

  • Hopslam Ale (2017) – DIPA 10% ABV

Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim, CA)

Frogger
I was so anticipating this release. The beer is good for a TIPA, but man did I want more Great Notion…
  • Black Forest Cake – Stout 6% ABV
  • Byzantine Vision (Draft) – Barrel Aged Baltic Porter 10.7% ABV
  • Rocket Launch – Belgian IPA 6% ABV
  • Saison De Whittaker – Saison 7% ABV
  • Congruent Coconut – Pale Ale 5% ABV
  • Oculango – DIPA 9.7% ABV
  • Iridium Flare (2017) (with Superstition Meadery) – Braggot 13.9% ABV
  • Heliosphere – Helles Lager 4.7% ABV
  • Titan of Tokyo – Tart Wheat Ale 5% BV
  • Jam the Radar (2017) – Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 13.8% ABV
  • Analog Nostalgia – IPA 8% ABV
  • Frogger GLC (with Great Notion Brewing) – Hazy TIPA 11% ABV

Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO)

  • Collaboration No. 6 Barrel-Aged Blend (with Firestone Walker Brewing Company) – Barrel Aged Blend 12.5% ABV
  • Whiskey Barrel Stout – Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 11.8% ABV

Brouwerij West (San Pedro, CA)

  • Falling Water – Hazy IPA 6.5% ABV
  • Dig My Earth – Hazy DIPA 8% ABV

Burial Beer Co. (Asheville, NC)

Ceremonial
Something’s in the water in Ashville, NC…
  • Gang of Blades – DIPA 8.3% ABV
  • Ceremonial – Session IPA 4% ABV

Carton Brewing (Highlands, NJ)

IDIPA
Tell me about your IPA…
  • IDIPA – IPA 7% ABV

Cellarmaker Brewing Co. (San Francisco, CA)

  • Double Moonage – Hazy DIPA 8.4% ABV

Cigar City Brewing Company (Tampa, FL)

  • Good Gourd – Imperial Pumpkin Beer 8.8% ABV

Civil Society Brewing Co.

Fresh
Jupiter, Florida’s Civil Society know Hazy. So Fresh!
  • Extra Pulp – Imperial Hazy Pale Wheat Ale 8.5% ABV
  • Schmedium w/ Strawberry & Pineapple (with Slim Pickens Cider & Mead) – Hazy IPA 6% ABV
  • Can’t Touch This – Hazy IPA 7% ABV
  • Fresher Than Fresh – Hazy DIPA 8.7% ABV
  • Social Lube (with All In Brewing) – IPA 7% ABV

Claremont Craft Ales (Claremont, CA)

Coffee Del
Simon Says: Coffee Del deserved a canning run!
  • Pepper & Peaches – IPA 7.1% ABV
  • Coffee Del – Coffee IPA 7.1% ABV

Cycle Brewing (St. Petersburg, FL)

  • Rare DOS – Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 10% ABV

Deep River Brewing Company (Clayton, NC)

Deep River
So cold blooded to collaborate without giving the other collaborator props…but that’s just what Deep River did…Collaboration Without Representation was a delicious canned BA Imperial Milk Stout.
  • Collaboration Without Representation (with Bottle Revolution) – Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Chocolate Coffee Milkstout 12.8% ABV

Docent Brewing (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

  • Funemployed! – Pale Ale 5.8% ABV
  • The Stallion – Brown Ale 7.5% ABV
  • Gloomy – IPA 7.2% ABV
  • Headliner – DIPA 8.2% ABV
  • Shrub – Session IPA 4.4% ABV

El Segundo Brewing Co. (El Segundo, CA)

Surfin' Bird
Of course a collaboration with Pizza Port would produce a West Coast DIPA…
  • Surfin’ Bird (with Pizza Port Brewing Co.) – DIPA 8% ABV

Epic Brewing Company (Salt Lake City, UT)

  • 825 State Stout – Oatmeal Stout 5.6% ABV
  • New England Style IPA (Citralush) – Hazy IPA 7.3%

Evil Twin Brewing (Brewed by Two Roads Brewing in CT)

  • No Hero – Oatmeal Stout 7% ABV

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. (Buellton, CA)

  • Zero To Sexy – Blonde Ale 6.8% ABV
  • Fig Mtn Mosaic – Pale Ale 5.5% ABV
  • Cougar Attack – TIPA 10% ABV

Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)

  • Luponic Distortion: Revolution No. 005 – IPA 5.9% ABV
  • Luponic Distortion: Revolution No. 007 – IPA 5.9% ABV
  • Propagator Generation 1 – IPA 7.6% ABV

Fremont Brewing (Seattle, WA)

Dark Star
Fremont: Because Beer Matters.
  • Dark Star – Imperial Oatmeal Stout 8% ABV
  • Interurban IPA – IPA 6.2% ABV
  • The Sister Imperial IPA – DIPA 8.5% ABV

Garage Project (Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand)

  • Death From Above – IPA 7.5% ABV

Great Divide Brewing Company (Denver, CO)

Hop Disciples
2017 was the year that Great Divide Brewing paid a visit to Mad Max’s Thunderdome… Only Hop Disciples welcomed…
  • Hop Disciples – IPA 6.2% ABV

Green Cheek Beer Company (Orange, CA)

  • Cut the Lights – Stout 5.1% ABV
  • Good Vibes Included – Session IPA 4.2% ABV
  • Member IPA? – IPA 7% ABV
  • Brian Knows Zest – Lager 5% ABV
  • Berlin! – Berliner Weisse 3.2% ABV
  • Cocohut – Hazy IPA 6.1% ABV
  • Clichaze – Hazy IPA 6.6% ABV
  • Andy Black – Milkstout 4% ABV
  • Australian For Pale – Pale Ale 5.8% ABV

Grimm Artisanal Ales (Brooklyn, NY)

In Mid-Ar
I come unglued while In Mid-Air then land to reform…limb by limb. This beer paired excellently with Phish.
  • In Mid-Air – Hazy DIPA 8% ABV
  • Sumi Zest – Imperial Stout 11.5% ABV
  • Double Negative – Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 10% ABV

Hamilton Family Brewery (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

  • Double Mango – DIPA 8.2% ABV

Highland Park Brewery (Los Angeles, CA)

Cloud Party
In the shadow of greatness…Cloud Party was a good Hazy IPA, but it can only aspire to the greatness of the other 2 beers in this pic…
  • Cloud Party – Hazy DIPA 8.3% ABV

Homage Brewing (Pomona, CA)

  • La Befana – Saison 6.8% ABV
  • Nose Dive – IPA 6.3% ABV
  • Discovery – Belgian Strong Golden Ale 7.8% ABV
  • Le Sauvage – Golden ALe 6.7% ABV

Indie Brewing Company (Los Angeles, CA)

Indie
Loving the Logo, price point and taste of these Indies!
  • Find That Juicy Double – Hazy DIPA 8% ABV
  • Fuzzy Recollection – Hazy IPA 6.9% ABV

Industrial Arts Brewing Company (Garnerville, NY)

State of the Art
Icons and sleek designs go hand and hand with delicious beer. Industrial Arts Brewing Company has them both down.
  • State of the Art 68 – IPA 6.3% ABV

Interboro Spirits & Ales (Brooklyn, NY)

Bring The Noise
Anthrax would be proud of this Interboro DIPA…
  • Bring the Noise – DIPA 8.5% ABV

Karl Strauss Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)

Aurora
Aurora Hoppyalis continues to be a stand out amongst Karl’s line-up.
  • Red Wine Barrel-Aged Red Trolley – Barrel Aged Red Ale 6.8% ABV
  • Aurora Hoppyalis – IPA 7% ABV
  • Big Barrel IIPA – DIPA 9% ABV

King Harbor Brewing Company (Redondo Beach, CA)

  • Lupulines – IPA 7.5% ABV

Lagunitas Brewing Company (Selloutville, USA)

  • Eroica – Flemish Farmhouse Ale 7.4% ABV
  • Willettized Coffee Stout – Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout 12.6% ABV
  • (important to note that I did not purchase these CORPRACRAFT beers, the bartenders at Stadium Brewing Company in Aliso Viejo like to give me samples…thanks!)

Left Coast Brewing Co. (San Clemente, CA)

  • Hop Juice – Triple IPA 10% ABV

Los Angeles Ale Works (Hawthorne, CA)

  • Blume – Berliner Weisse 3.5% ABV

MadeWest Brewing Company (Ventura, CA)

  • Transport – IPA 6.8% ABV
  • Pale – Pale Ale 5.6% ABV

Mason Ale Works (San Marcos, CA)

Thick As Thieves
Collaborations can sometimes get clouded…this Hazy IPA from Mason Aleworks with Burgeon and Pure Project was a nice, no waiting in line hazy.
  • Thick As Thieves (with Pure Project & Burgeon Beer Company) – Hazy IPA 6% ABV

Melvin Brewing (Jackson, WY)

2 x 4
You really can’t get any more American than a DIPA endorsed by Hacksaw Jim Duggan…HOOOOO!
  • 2 x 4 – DIPA 9.9% ABV

Mikerphone Brewing (Elk Grove Village, IL)

S'more Cowbell
I can’t put my finger on it, but I think this beer needs S’more Cowbell!
  • S’More Cowbell – Imperial Stout 10.8% ABV

Mikkeller Brewing (San Diego, CA)

  • Waves (Bolger) – IPA 7.3% ABV

Modern Times Beer (San Diego, CA)

  • City of the Sun – IPA 7.6% ABV
  • Orderville – Hazy IPA 7.2% ABV
  • Booming Rollers – IPA 6.8% ABV
  • Critical Band – Hazy IPA 6.7% ABV
  • Spaceship Earth – Hazy Pale Ale 5.2% ABV
  • Geodesic – IPA 7.5% ABV

Mumford Brewing (Los Angeles, CA)

ALL CAPS
Mumford goes both ways. Clear AF and Hazy…ALL CAPS was a delicious West Coast IPA.
  • ALL CAPS – IPA 6.8% ABV
  • Air Quotes – Hazy IPA 6.8% ABV

New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)

  • Fat Tire Belgian White – Witbier 5.2% ABV

New Glory Craft Brewery (Sacramento, CA)

Cloudy wiht a Chance
So thankful to be able to try so many new Nor Cal breweries…New Glory Craft Brewery is brewing up deliciousness.
  • Cloudy With A Chance Of Clarity – IPA 7% ABV

Noble Ale Works (Anaheim, CA)

Nuclear Haze
Orange County Haze Kings Noble Ale Works took the Nuclear Option this year…
  • Marginally Hazy, Moderately Experimental – Hazy IPA 6.2% ABV
  • A Little More Hazy, A Little More Experimental – Hazy IPA 5.8% ABV
  • Cloud Strife – Hazy IPA 6.4% ABV
  • Sailor Mom – DIPA 9.1% ABV
  • Lemon Drop Showers – DIPA 8.8% ABV
  • Nuclear Haze – Hazy DIPA 8.1% ABV
  • Aim For the Fences – IPA 7.9% ABV
  • Aim For the Netses! – IPA 7.9% ABV

Odd 13 Brewing (Lafayette, CO)

  • Codename: Superfan – Hazy IPA 6.5% ABV

Offshoot Beer Co. (Placentia, CA)

  • Stirred – Hazy DIPA 8.1% ABV

Omnipollo (Brewed by Dorchester Brewing in Boston, MA)

Lustro
So long as you contract someone that knows how to brew, I have no issues with you Omnipollo…
  • Lustro White Ultra Light IIPA – White DIPA 8% ABV

Perrin Brewing Co. (Comstock Park, MI)

  • No Rules Vietnamese Porter (2016) – Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter 15% ABV

Pizza Port Brewing Co. (San Clemente, CA)

Pizza Port
So many taps at Pizza Port San Clemente.
  • Fogged In – Pale Ale 5.5% ABV
  • Terminal 10 – International IPA 6.5% ABV
  • Christmas Island – Imperial Stout 10% ABV
  • Bear-O-Dactyl – DIPA 9.8% ABV
  • Doheny Double IPA – DIPA 9.5% ABV

Pure Project (San Diego, CA)

Pure Project
One of my new favorite breweries.
  • Deutschland Dank – International IPA 6.7% ABV
  • Milagro – Irish Dry Stout 5.3% ABV

Relic Brewing Co. (Plainville, CT)

The Huntress
A Warrior Princess DIPA…The Huntress!
  • The Huntress – DIPA 9% ABV

Revision Brewing Company (Sparks, NV)

Planetary Fog
A DIPA that drinks like a session…bet Knee Deep is kicking themselves…
  • What What – DIPA 9.1% ABV
  • Planetary Fog – Hazy DIPA 7.5% ABV

Riip Beer Company (Huntington Beach, CA)

  • Super Cali – IPA 7.2% ABV

Rushing Duck Brewing Co. (Chester, NY)

War Daddy
Maybe it’s because I like Elephants…this War Daddy was a nice East Coast DIPA.
  • War Daddy – DIPA 9.2% ABV

Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA)

  • Dribble Belt – Pale Ale 4.5% ABV

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (Capitola, CA)

Love's Armor
Crossed another new brewery off my wish list this year. Love’s Armor blended a Saison with a Rye Porter and created a uniquely delicious brew.
  • Black Room, Blue Phone – Wine Barrel-Aged Porter with Blueberries 7.6% ABV
  • Love’s Armor (Batch 4) – Barrel Aged Saison Rye Porter Blend 8.1% ABV
  • Bright Sea Blonde (Batch 5) -Belgian Style Blonde Ale 6.2% ABV

Second Chance Beer Co. (San Diego, CA)

Second Chance
Seize. Sip. Enjoy.
  • Seize the IPA – IPA 6.5% ABV
  • Fool Me Twice – DIPA 8.8% ABV
  • Seize the Coffee – Coffee IPA 6.5% ABV
  • Legally Red – Red IPA 7.2% ABV
  • Tabula Rasa – Porter 6.2% ABV

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)

  • Celebration Ale – IPA 6.8% ABV

Smog City Brewing (Torrance, CA)

Unity
Shared this beer with my bros as we’re all down for that UNITY. A delicious collaboration from LA Brewers
  • Unity – Tart Saison 5.3% ABV

Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA)

  • Enjoy By 12.25.17 – Unfiltered DIPA 9.4% ABV

TAPS Fish House & Brewery (Brea, CA)

  • India “Pal” Ale (with Tustin Brewing Company) – White IPA 6.8% ABV

The Alchemist (Stowe, VT)

The Crusher
Proof that Beer Karma exists…someone handed this to my while I was sitting at the Bottle Logic bar…
  • The Crusher – DIPA 9% ABV

The Bruery (Placentia, CA)

Hoppy Obligations
Thought my mind was playing tricks on me when I walked into Bruery Terreaux and they had a Hazy Pale on tap…
  • Hoppy Obligations V1 – Hazy Pale Ale 5.6% ABV
  • All the Chocolate – Herbed/Spiced Beer 6.6% ABV

Thomas Hooker Brewing Co. (Bloomfield, CT)

  • #nofilter – Hazy IPA 7% ABV

Three Weavers Brewing Company (Inglewood, CA)

  • Return of Sassy (with Arts District Brewing) – Rye IPA 6.7% ABV

Toppling Goliath Brewing Company (Decorah, IA)

  • Golden Nugget – IPA 6.3% ABV

Torched Hop Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA)

Tribunal
Tasty hazy, even tastier logo!
  • Tribunal – Hazy DIPA 8.5% ABV

Track 7 Brewing Company (Sacramento, CA)

  • Naughty By Nectar (with Alvarado Street Brewery) – Berliner Weisse 8% ABV
  • Amarillo Adoration – DIPA 8.7% ABV

Trillium Brewing Company (Boston, MA)

Dusk Trill Dawn
Collaborated on taking this bottle down before brew day…
  • Dusk Trill Dawn (with Evil Twin Brewing) – Imperial Breakfast Stout 11.5% ABV

Tustin Brewing Company (Tustin, CA)

  • Leche Coco Loco – Milkstout 5.5% ABV

Two Roads Brewing Company (Stratford, CT)

  • Two Evil: Geyser Gose (with Evil Twin Brewing) – Gose 5.5% ABV

I know that’s kinda a lot to take in, but trust me when I tell you that paying a visit to these 85 breweries will not leave you disappointed…happy hunting!

Peace, Love, Beer!

All photos by: BrewFiend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

99 Bottles of Craft Beer on the Wall…

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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.

Barrel Aged Sour

  • Blackberry Sour by Stadium Brewing Company

Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts

Ground State
The 2017 Ground State featured Coldbot Coffee
  • Kentucky Hug by Tustin Brewing Company
  • Ground State (2017)  (with Coldbot Coffee) by Bottle Logic Brewing
  • 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
At this point I only buy Pre-POM douche Stone… Fydor’s Classic was a delicious 2014 treat…
  • 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
Simon Says: “Give my BBA Imperial Oatmeal Stout a try, you will not be disappointed…”
  • Royal by Claremont Craft Ales

Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine

  • Sucaba by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Stouts
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.

Stouts

  • City of the Dead Export Coffeee Stout by Modern Times Beer
  • Wall of Sound Oatmeal Stout by Stereo Brewing Company (GABF Gold Medal Winner)*

Imperial Stouts

Get More Likes
A delicious East Coast Collaboration from Kent Falls with Kinsmen Brewing…Get More Likes
  • Get More Likes (with Kinsmen Brewing) by Kent Falls Brewing Co.
  • Grandpappy by Docent Brewing

Milkstouts

  • 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

Porters
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.

Porters

  • Blimp Hangar Porter by Tustin Brewing Co.

Baltic Porter

Spectral Beast
A healthy, hearty dose of East Coast Love from Relic…
  • Spectral Beast by Relic Brewing Co.

Imperial Porter

  • Modern Dogma by Cervejaria Dogma

Tart/Sours
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.

Berliner Weisses

  • Propagation Series No. 3.3e4 by Beachwood Blendery
  • Guava in Berlin! By Green Cheek Beer Company

Grisette

  • Troglodyte by Unsung Brewing Co.

Tart Wheat Ale

  • Hostile Intent by Bottle Logic Brewing

Pale Ales
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.

Pale Ales

Field to Ferment
Field to Fremont? Field to Ferment? Either way, this was a lovely Centennial Fresh Hop Pale. Wish I would have tried the other 3 variants…
  • 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

JeanHands
When 2 “haze masters” collaborate you get something notable like JeanHands courtesy of Monkish and Tired Hands.
  • 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

IPAs

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)…

Brett IPA

  • Reckoner by Homage Brewing

IPAs

Lush
Welcome to Southern California Fremont Brewing. This can was so lovely, I almost didn’t use a glass…but, Beer Matters, so I did…
Coffee & Milk
Fieldwork Brewing quickly made their way onto my Top 10 List with such fantastic offerings as Coffee & Milk IPA. Trust me, it worked!
Juicy Secret
All the Juice, none of the haze…a lovely Juicy Secret from New Glory
  • 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)

Power Glove
A Brewmance between 2 of my favorite breweries…YES PLEASE! Noble Ale Works with Fieldwork Brewing Company
Greenshift
Beachwood Brewed GreenShift! So much dankness!
  • 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

Rye DIPA

  • Leo v. Ursus: Inferos by Firestone Walker Brewing Company

TIPA (Triple IPAs)

Tundra
I sure hope they used Cryo hops in this TIPA. If they didn’t I don’t really understand the name, but damn was Tundra delicious…got to enjoy it twice this year.
  • Tundra by Fieldwork Brewing Company

Hazy IPAs

Golden Pineapple
This Modern Times offering continued to get better with age…Golden Pineapple
img_0188
If only there were Vending Machines like this…Snacktime!
  • 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

Hazy DIPAs

Galaxy Sauce
So much Fieldwork this year, I was in HEAVEN or somewhere out in the Galaxy…
The Bruff
Nevada’s Revision Brewing quickly mastered the Haze…The Bruff was so smooth…
The Usual Suspects
1of these beers was perfect. 2 of these beers were OK. And 2 of them were a step above the norm. Crucial Taunt and Foggy Window may have come from different coasts, but both were elite Hazy DIPAs
  • 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.

Hazy TIPAs

CANniversary
Who brews a Hazy Triple IPA? Noble Ale Works, that’s who…This should be the standard of Triple Hazies…no booziness. It morphed to near perfection with my last can…
  • 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!

Peace, Love, Beer!

All Photos by: BrewFiend

 

27 – 2017 Brews slightly Above the Rim…

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.

Stouts
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!

Black House
Putting a beer on Nitro is like giving it a makeover on the Style Network…Black House on Nitro with Coconut and Cocoa Nibs thrown in…

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…

Tovarish
I could stand a Russian Invasion, so long as Espresso RIS’ were readily available…Tovarish for the people…
Elida Tovarish
I love it when a variant comes together…especially when it involves coffee. Elida es tan sabroso…

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.

Docent
Tonic? Does it cure something? Yes, sir. All that ails you…

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…

WOL Wrap Party
Somewhere amongst these bottles lies a plethora of great beers…

Barrel Aged
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.

Parabola
Heaven almost exists in beer form. It was bottled by Firestone Walker and it’s called Parabola…
Pugachev's Cobra 2016
A Bourbon Barrel Aged Classic. The Iconic Pugachev’s Cobra 2016 edition. Barrel Roll No. 003

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.

Mxyzptlk
Superman would be proud…Mxyzptlk

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…

Fundamental Summation
Fundamentally you can’t improve upon this beer, but adding some Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee may be an inspired start…mathematically speaking…Fundamental Summation.

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.

Collaged
What is Conflux Series you ask? Oh, just a conflagration of Barrel Aged Ales…Collage, yes, it literally burns them down…

Dopplebock
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…

Dopplebock
Reinheitsgebot at it’s finest… Weihenstephaner

Mead/Braggots
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…

Iridium Flare
I had the pleasure of serving the Iridium Flare Preview as part of the Stasis Project Preview at this year’s Week of Logic.

IPAs
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…

Circadian Rhythym
Few people that aren’t from the Midwest actually know what Circadian means…Bottle Logic knows, or maybe they redefined it…

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.

Black Belt
When a beer hits 3 of my buttons, I take notice. Triple, Black, Rye…yes please allow Black Belt to Karate Chop me to the head!

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.

Bursted
With everyone doing Single Hop Series, it’s easy to sleep on some offerings; but this Nelson Sauvin Bursted was not to be missed…almost there…

Meanwhile, San Diego’s Modern Times Beer offered a fantastic South African hopped IPA named Triton Project; that paired perfectly with the Super Bowl.

Triton Project
The choicest South African Hops, before assholes cornered the market…Triton Project

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…

New Jack IPA
Something’s in the water in southern North Carolina y’all…or maybe Tarheels are more righteous than I thought…All about that New Jack…

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.

Down Down
Familyship has it’s priveleges. Purchased on release day, this Down Down was a superbly delicious hazy…

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…

No Complaints
When it comes to experimentation from a master brewer, you’ll get No Complaints here…

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…

Most Important Meal
What the fuck is a Breakfast DIPA? Well, I for one can tell you it’s fantastic…

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…

Hazy
Drink my hazy, but don’t touch my monkey…Dinosaur World…

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…

The Other Brian
Regardless of what your heard, it wasn’t me. It was The Other Brian…

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.

Peace, Love, Beer

All photos by: BrewFiend

And then, there were twelve…

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).

Double Platinum
Staring down that Double Platinum.  This was so good out of the keg, I bet it was closer to perfection out of the can, but this was pre-Eventbrite…and I stopped doing lines this year…
Because Your'e Worth It
I had the pleasure of serving Because You’re Worth It in the Jungle of Juice at Noble’s 6th Anniversary Party this year and instantly fell in love…I was all over that 2nd batch.

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!

Whoomp! There It Is
What else can you say? There it is. Whoomp! Dangerously easy to drink…

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…).

Fundamentally Challenged
That week I worked at Bottle Logic Brewing was surreal…Week Of Logic will always be a great memory…this may or may not have been a plastic cup full of FO…

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.

Foggier Window
Take me to church…I worship like a dog at the shrine of your hops…Foggier Window DDH DIPA

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.

Wherever You Land
No greater day, than the day that Evan and Brian bought Valiant…Wherever You Land, Drink While Smiling. Smiling indeed!

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…)

Triangulum
Coming out of nowhere with some fantastic Haze…Unsung Brewing Co.

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…

Wet Hop Citra-Mongous
CITRA-MONGOUS! Even her remnants were beautiful…

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…

Mega Blazing World
Improving on an original is often difficult, this came so close…Mega Blazing World embued with Nelson, Simcoe, Mosaic…enough said.

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!

Christmas Bomb!
Christmas Bomb! 2017, La Bomba Mas Fina!

[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!

Kalua Porker
The only growler of this beauty, Kalua Porker, to have existed…Trevor had me dump most of the Firkin, but I had to share this beer, which I did with the beer tenders at Bottle Logic.

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.

Peace, Love, Beer!

All Photos By: BrewFiend

My Best of 2017

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

Beginner's Luck
Beginner’s Luck ( A West Coast DIPA) brewed in collaboration, this, introduced the world to Green Cheek Beer Co. back in May.

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.

img_0106
West Coast is not Dead, but is ALIVE and WELL!!!

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!).

img_0105
Attack With Love was a fantastic foray into the Haze…

When it came to Bourbon Barrel Aged Offerings, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing still reigned supreme; with such offerings as Fundamental Observation

img_0096

Fundamental Forces

img_0103
Yes, this was a growler full of Fundamental Forces…

and a coffee infused variant FOMO brewed in collaboration with Mostra Coffee.

img_0097
The level of Coffee deliciousness in FOMO is indescribable.

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

img_0102
Probably my absolute favorite beer of 2017, that 24K Juice!

and ending it strong with a DDH version, known as 48K Juice.

img_0095
You say Double Dry-Hopped, I say HELL YEAH!

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…

img_0104
Pure Project quickly became one of my top 5 breweries…

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.

img_0094
God Save Julian Shrago! I love any Beachwood IPA, but DDH? Lord!

Hazy Pale Ales made a strong showing this year with fantastic releases from HenHouse Brewing, their #Stoked Series was off the hook !

img_0099
So stoked! to have Craft Beer Friends all over the country, got to try this HenHouse.

and New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing, whose Low Visibility Pale showed just how far down these cats could boogie…

img_0100
Magnify continues to show me that I love more about NJ than just Bon Jovi…

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

img_0107
Skillet Donut…DAMN!

Utah’s Epic Brewing’s fabled Big Bad Baptista Mexican Inspired BA Imperial Stout

img_0091
El BBA Mas Fina! Big, Bad Baptista!

Denver, Colorado’s consistently epic Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Oatmeal Stout from the masters at Great Divide Brewing Company,

img_0092
I’ve always believed that Great Minds Drink Alike…

and Costa Mesa, California’s The Patsy courtesy of Barley Forge Brewing Co. brewed in collaboration with Thunder King Coffee.

img_0093
Such an awesome brewery to just hang at. Throw in some Coffee Infused Stout and I’m in heaven…Thanks Barley Forge!

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!

Drink Good Beer, Craft Beer.

All Photos By: BrewFiend

Sometimes, you just need to Yeti…

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”.

Hope your week is full of fantastic beer!

Until next time ✌🏽❤️🍻

– Brew Fiend

Everyone’s Favorite Day: Home Brew Day…

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.

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Like any self-respecting brewing operation, we look for a little motivation in fantastic beer! Brew Day started with a share of Trillium & Evil Twin’s delicious Imperial Coffee Stout, Dusk Trill Dawn…
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”.

Recipe
Preparation is the key to success…Head Brewer, Joe understands this and keeps everything on track…
The Mash Tun is where the magic really starts to happen. Here, Head Brewer, Joe M. checks the gauges to ensure a proper brew.

mash tun

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:

Mash

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Looks like coffee…
If you’ve ever home brewed, you’ve heard the term “sparging”. The Sparge Arm is a key component of the brewing setup.

Sparge
Nothing like the Sparge, we just love saying that around these parts…SPARGE!
Litmus Test? Something like that. Again, science at work. Ph is important to ensure you get the result you anticipated.

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Is that the propa Ph? Precision is the key to great tasting home brew…
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:

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A look into the final kettle…
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Something about all that stainless steel…beautiful. A full view of the newest addition to the brew rig. A hop filter with an inner filter.
hop filter
Necessity is the mother of invention, and experimentation leads to perfection…testing out a new hop filter…
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…

spectrometer
Massively Minuscule’s resident “crack-up” Hal checks out the flux-capacitor or something…Spectrometer silliness…
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.

Fermentor
And in to the fermenter this Robust Porter goes…
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…

Cleaning Action
“The Cleaner”, Dana gets busy on cleaning out that mash, that and he took the spent grain home…reuse, recycle…
Clean
A brewing operation has so many variables. Cleaning up and preparing for the next brew day is the most important part of the day….
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…

Taps
Once Coal Miner’s Hands Robust Porter is complete, it will join the line up here at Massively Minuscule Brewing…Can’t wait!
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!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, Beer

Brew Fiend

All Pics by:BrewFiend

 

A Step Above

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.

Hope your New Year is full of new beer!

Peace, Love, Beer

Brew Fiend

All pics by: BrewFiend



Brown Ale

Beer: Sleepless City
ABV: 5.7%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

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Nothing says Modern like a black & white photo of one of 2016’s best Browns…

Witbier

Beer: White
ABV: 5.1%
Brewery: Allagash Brewing Co.


Lagers

Beer: Sable Black Lager
Style: Dark Lager
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery: Legends Craft Brewery

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Anaheim’s Legends Craft Brewery has one of the nicest Tasting Rooms in the OC.

Beer: I Lager It!
Style: India Pale Lager (IPL)
ABV: 7.0%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

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IPLs are the only way I really enjoy lagers, and Noble’s take on the style is Fantastic”

Sours

Beer: Hoppy Sour: Azacca
Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 7.0%
Brewery: Almanac Beer Company

Beer: Chromatic Ratio
Style: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: 22nd Anniversary
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 8.7%
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.


Porters

Beer: The David Bowie
Style: Coffee Porter
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

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The David Bowie as it shall always be known by me…

Beer: Haunted Stars
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 8.0%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer


Stouts

Fact: Southern California and the Chicagoland Area are absolutely killing this style right now! Basically if you see any Stouts from Beachwood, Pipeworks or Solemn Oath buy them immediately.

Beer: Kilgore
Style: Stout
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Coconut Jones Dog
Style: Coconut Chocolate Milk Stout
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Pipeworks Brewing Co.

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Chicago Craft Beer at it’s finest. Mikerphone, Pipeworks & Solemn Oath

Beer: Most Important Beverage Of The Day
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Solemn Oath Brewery

Beer: Obfuscation Station
Style: Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Hammerhead Speedway Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.0%
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.

Beer: HoliDAVE
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.7%
Brewery: Artifex Brewing Co.

Beer: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.5%
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.

Beer: S’more Money, S’more Problems
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.0%
Brewery: Pipeworks Brewing Co.

Beer: w00tstout (2016)
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.0%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: System Of A Stout
Style: Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 11.3%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Share This : Coffee
Style: Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 11.9%
Brewery: The Bruery

Beer: Own Worst Enemy
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 9.3%
Brewery: Mikerphone Brewing


Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers

Fact: Bottle Logic knows Barrel Aged. The “hype” is not hype, it’s reality people…

Beer: Tweak
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 17.5%
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.

Beer: Fugue State
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.25%
Brewery: Barley Forge Brewing Co.

Beer: Bourbon Barrel Cobaltic Porter
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Baltic Porter
ABV: 10.1%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Ground State (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Breakfast Stout
ABV: 12.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

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No “hype” here. Just Barrel Aged at its finest…

Beer: Stronger Than Fiction (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Strong Ale
ABV: 14.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Pug-Nog (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.7%
Brewery: Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Beer: Shot In The Dark
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter
ABV: 11.8%
Brewery: Tustin Brewing Co.


IPAs

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…

Beer: Trigger Finger
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Artifex Brewing Co.

Beer: Thrillseeker
ABV: 7.0%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Citraholic
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: The Independent
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

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I vote for Beachwood!

Beer: Zero Day
ABV: 7.4%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Galactic Grapefruit
ABV: 7.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Teacursion
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: The Hound
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Recursion 9.0
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

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Hops, hops and more hops! West Coast IPA done the Bottle Logic Way…Recursion.

Beer: HazeShift
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Ha! Ha! IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: Awoogah
ABV: 6.7%
Brewery: Grimm Artisanal Ales

Beer: Just Outstanding IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Kern River Brewing Co.

Beer: Double Dry Hopped Vine Shine
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Magnify Brewing Co.

Beer: Mage Hand
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

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It really does taste like wizards…Mage Hand at Lomaland.

Beer: Blam! Blam!
ABV: 7.0%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Eating Other Editors
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

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Monkish mash-up: Outside & Inside

Beer: My First Canning Line
ABV: 6.0%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

Beer: That’s Unpossible
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Fight the Good Fight
ABV: 7.0%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Big Whig IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

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Who do you think you are? A West Coast Classic!!!

Beer: Hop Showers
ABV: 7.4%
Brewery: Other Half Brewing Co.

Beer: The Pupil
ABV: 7.5%
Brewery: Societe Brewing Co.

Beer: The Hop Project Mosaic (Single Hop IPA)
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery: Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co.

Beer: Citcoe Drive
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Valiant Brewing Co.


DIPAs

Fact: El Segundo is constantly brewing up DIPA magic; Noble is the DIPA King of OC…there should be a collaboration…everyone can thank me later.

Beer: Future Tripping
ABV: 9.25%
Brewery: Barley Forge Brewing Co.

Beer: Stable Orbit (Collaboration with AleSmith Brewing Co.)
ABV: 9.0%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Hop Tanker
ABV: 9.2%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: Hop Plunge
ABV: 8.6%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: Two 5 Left DIPA
ABV: 8.2%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

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Take a Two5Left right out of this solar system…and, Lift Off!!!

Beer: Pernicious Weed
ABV: 8.0%
Brewery: Garage Project

Beer: Iconic
ABV: 9.0%
Brewery: Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Beer: Shuttle Bunny
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Kern River Brewing Co.

Beer: Double Jungle Boogie
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Marz Community Brewing Co.

Beer: Hooloomooloo
ABV: 10.0%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Mega Fortunate Islands
ABV: 8.0%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Sticky Green And Bad Traffic
ABV: 8.4%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

Beer: Nobility
ABV: 9.1%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

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The King has returned! Nobility in all its splendor.

Beer: Galaxy Showers
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: HBC 429 Showers
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: All Citra Everything
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Other Half Brewing Co.

Beer: Citra
ABV: 9.5%
Brewery: Pipeworks Brewing Co.

Beer: Ninja vs. Unicorn
ABV: 8.0%
Brewery: Pipeworks Brewing Co.

Beer: Hop-15 Ale
ABV: 10.0%
Brewery: Port Brewing Co.

Beer: Wreckagemaster
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Solemn Oath Brewery

Beer: Enjoy By 04.20.16
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Enjoy By 05.30.16 (Tangerine)
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Enjoy By 09.05.16
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Mass-Hive
ABV: 8.2%
Brewery: TAPS Fish House & Brewery

Beer: 20th Anniversary Double IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Brewery: Tustin Brewing Co.

Tustin Brewing Company turned 20 this year and took a foray into bottling. Hopefully, you were lucky enough to try this year's Outstanding Anniversary DIPA. So glad I was able to give back by volunteering at this year's Birthday Event. Congrats you guys and gals!
Tustin Brewing Company turned 20 this year and took a foray into bottling. Hopefully, you were lucky enough to try this year’s Outstanding Anniversary DIPA. So glad I was able to give back by volunteering at this year’s Birthday Event. Congrats you guys and gals!

TIPA

Beer: Triple Zero
ABV: 10.7%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing


Black IPAs

Beer: The Captain
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Ruhstaller

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Don’t sleep on The Captain…

Beer: Hopsteppa
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 7.7%
Brewery: TAPS Fish House & Brewery

Beer: Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
Style: Double Black IPA
ABV: 10.8%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Dubhe Imperial Black IPA
Style: Double Black IPA
ABV: 9.2%
Brewery: Uinta Brewing Co.

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Uinta, my kinda folks…Earth, Wind and Beer. Fantastic Beer.

Brimful of Craft Beer on the 4.5s

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!

Peace, Love, Beer

Brew Fiend

All pics by: BrewFiend

The One-Offs

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.

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Chicago’s Marz Community Brewing’s sensational Wheat Ale was made available to a wider audience this year thanks to Against the Grain Brewing running a canned edition.

Sours

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: Raspberry Sour
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.

Beer: Tart of Darkness (2016)
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Bruery Terreaux

Bruery Terreaux
The recently opened Bruery Terreaux, a showcase for The Bruery’s Wild Ales is a six minute walk from my house…somewhere in those barrels is next year’s TOD!
Beer: Cuddlebug
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing


Barrel Aged

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: Space Trace (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.1%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Jam the Radar
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.7%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Darkstar November (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Jam the Radar (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Pugachev’s Cobra (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.5%
Brewery: Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Pugachev
Everything I love about Barrel Aged Beers, I owe to Pugachev…the grandfather of my Barrel Aged Journey.
Beer: Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths


Stouts

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: Leche Molé
Style: Mexican Milk Stout
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Naughty Sauce
Style: Golden Milk Stout
ABV: 5.4%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Orange Mocha Frappucino
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 12.7%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Mega Black House (2016)
Style: Imperial Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 10%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Yeti
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.5%
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.

Beer: Bomb
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13%
Brewery: Prairie Artisan Ales

Beer: Heavy Boots Of Lead
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths

HBOL
Impressive Brew’s coming out of this New York Outfit. Both the Barrel Aged and Non-Barrel Aged versions of this beer were fantastic!

Porters

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

Lumppacoal
Rich, chocolatey Deliciousness! The Brewmeisters at Noble have their way with every style imaginable…for the Naughty & Nice!
Beer: Stone 6th Anniversary Porter
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.


IPAs

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

Beer: Amalgamator
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Melrose
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Pride of cHops
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Bully Pulpit
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Council Brewing Co.

Bully
In the words of Mr. K: “They are more than just sours…” San Diego’s Council Brewing came out of nowhere this year with a flag flying true to style West Coast IPA that was absolutely fantastic!
Beer: The 105 IPA
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: Vallejo
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.7%
Brewery: Half Acre Beer Co.

Beer: Bonkers
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Highland Park Brewery

Beer: Maine Event
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Magnify Brewing Co.

Beer: Underworld Dreams
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.2%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Spock It
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

Beer: Juicy is the New Dank
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Hoptonic
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing

Beer: Green
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Brewery: Tree House Brewing Co.


Double IPAs

Beer: The Maharaja
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 10.2%
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.

Beer: Haze Flux
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Hopocalypse (White Label)
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.4%
Brewery: Drake’s Brewing Co.

Beer: 5 Lb. Sledgehammer
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.1%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: 1UP
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Highland Park Brewery

Beer: Atomically
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

Beer: Dank You For Being A Friend
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works (Collaboration with Cellarmaker Brewing)

Dank you
One of the things I love most about Craft Beer is the camaraderie that exists amongst breweries and Brewers. Collaboration beers are some of my favorite! This label makes me smile. Every time.
Beer: Tongue Tickles
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Resin
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.1%
Brewery: Sixpoint Brewery

Beer: Ruination 2.0
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Enjoy By 02.14.16 (Unfiltered)
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Enjoy By 07.04.16
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.


Triple IPAs

Beer: Do You Smell What the Waka’s Cooking?
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 10.3%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

waka
Noble knows IPAs. Be they singles, doubles or Triples! Crisp and Clean.

Specialty IPAs

Beer: Blazing World
Style: Amber Ale (I don’t care what they say, this is a Fantastic IPA)
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Diavoletto
Style: Super Session IPA
ABV: 3%
Brewery: Bissell Brothers

Beer: Feel This Coffee IPA
Style: Coffee IPA
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Mikkeller Brewing SD

Beer: Enjoy By 02.14.16 Black IPA
Style: Double Black IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Enjoy
The Black IPA may be my favorite style of beer ever invented. Sucks that one of my favorite breweries went Corporate as I will surely miss this series…
Beer: Enjoy By 05.04.16 Black IPA
Style: Double Black IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.