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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.

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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!).

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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

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Fundamental Forces

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Yes, this was a growler full of Fundamental Forces…

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

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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

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

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

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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…

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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.

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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 !

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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…

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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

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Skillet Donut…DAMN!

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

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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,

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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.

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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.

2016: Excellent Brews in the rearview…

2016 was definitely a year for the history books. It was a year of mergers, infiltration by “big beer” and the blowing up of the “Hazy” or as I like to call it “Yeasty” IPA. Trust me when I tell you that I drank my fair share of beers this year…

What follows are the 20 32 beers that received a, 5 out of 5 ranking on my Untappd account (Brew_Fiend).

These beers are listed in the order they were tried and while I can’t guarantee that you would give these beers a 5, I can guarantee that all of them are absolutely fantastic and should at the very least be on your radar.

The 5s


January 2016
Beer: Agrestic (2015)
Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
“…what a metamorphosis…to think that this started out as DBA is Mind-Blowing…”


Beer: Big Bad Baptist (2016)
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.1%
Brewery: Epic Brewing Co.
“…I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way …”

This was the first time I’ve had this since Untappd and failed to take a pic…

Beer: Xocoveza Extra Anejo (2016)
Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…Fantastico! …”


Sadly, Stone bought in to a corporate mindset at the end of 2016 and worked their way onto my “Do Not Buy” list…

Beer: Double Actuator
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
“…My DIPA! …”


Beer: The Patsy
Style: Coconut Rye Stout
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Barley Forge Brewing Co.
“…The 1st Beer I bought a shirt for…”

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February 2016
Beer: Darkstar November (2014)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial  Stout
ABV: 13.7%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…Aged to Perfection…”


Beer: Bean Bump
Style: Imperial Golden Coffee Milk Stout
ABV: 12.7%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works
“…Liquid Sex!…”


Beer: Xocoveza
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 8.1%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…Abuelita’s Chocolate…”


March 2016
Beer: Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (12th Anniversary Beer)
Style: Imperial Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 9.2%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…Chocolate + Oatmeal = Fantastic!…”


Beer: Ocularity
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
“…My DIPAs Sister! …”


April 2016
Beer: Pliny the Elder
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Russian River Brewing Co.
“…”


May 2016
Beer: Leche Borracho (2016)
Style: Tequila Barrel Aged Milk Stout
ABV: 11%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…Dame mi Leche!!…”


Beer: Double Dry-Hopped Double Actuator
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…OMFG! My Favorite beer made better…”


Beer: Sip of Sunshine
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Lawson’s Finest Liquids
“…”


June 2016
Beer: RuinTen
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 10.8%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…a stage dive into a mosh pit of Hops…”


July 2016
Beer: Fundamental Forces
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 16%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…Lookout BBA fans, they’ve called in reinforcements…”


Beer: Fundamental Observation (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 14.1%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…The pinnacle…”


Beer: Coffee Porter
Style: Porter
ABV: 6%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing
“…Coffee Beer at it’s Finest..”


August 2016
Beer: Hello, LA
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Highland Park Brewery
“…this may be the “perfect” IPA…”


Beer: Attack Frequency
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer
“…Modern Times set their phasers to Phenomenal…”


September 2016
Beer: Space Diamonds
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Other Half Brewing Co.
“…Resinous goodness from Outer Space…”

Beer: Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout (2016)
Style: Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 12%
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.
“…Imperial in every way…”


October 2016
Beer: Passionate Dragon (2015)
Style: Wine Barrel Aged Saison
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…uniquely delicious…”


November 2016
Beer: Duet
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Alpine Beer Company
“…resoundingly delicious…”


December 2016
Beer: Red Eye November (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 13.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…the pinnacle and then some…”


Beer: Mocha Machine
Style: Imperial Coffee Porter
ABV: 9.2%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing Co.
“…flawless..”

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Beer: Strangematter (2015)
Style: Wine Barrel Aged Saison
ABV: 10.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…strange how time aged this to perfection…”


Beer: Last Snow (2016)
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Funky Buddha Brewery
“…Phenomenal…”

Victim of a Bottle Share…No Evidence Exists…

Beer: The Butcher
Style: Stygian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.8%
Brewery: Societe Brewing Co.
“…murder by Stout…”

Beer: Milk Stout Nitro
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 6%
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Co.
“…the Progenitor…”

(Sadly, no pic exists)

Beer: Boysenberry-Berlinear Equation
Style: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 5.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…I hate this style of beer, but…”

(Another that vanished so quickly, I could not snap a pic…That, and I shared it with my “non-drinking” Korean in-laws: Geon Bae!)

Beer: The Nothing
Style: Imperial Chocolate Stout
ABV: 9.7%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing
“…Something…”

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The Almost Perfects…
There were also several beers this year that were oh, so close to perfection…maybe they weren’t fresh enough or the lines weren’t properly cleaned or my taste buds were just having an off day…

Either way, these brews/breweries should also be on your radar in 2017.

Honorable Mentions go to the following excellent brews…All brews received a 4.75 out of 5 ranking on Untappd.

January 2016
Beer: Recursion 7.0
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.3%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

February 2016
Beer: Mirror Mirror (2014)
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11%
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery

Beer: Darkstar November (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout 
ABV: 13.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Red Eye November (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

March 2016
Beer: Zombie Dust
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
Brewery: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Beer: Citra
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Kern River Brewing Co.

July 2016
Beer: Black Angel Cherry Sour
Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing

August 2016
Beer: Elevation Change
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co. (Collaboration with Mammoth Brewing Co.)

Beer: Gravity Check
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 5%
Brewery: Kern River Brewing Co.

September 2016
Beer: Parabajava (2015)
Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 14%
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Beer: Dankstar
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery: Civil Society Brewing Co.

October 2016
Beer: Dank Dank Pow Pow
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Citra Showers
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Picture If You Wil… (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 11.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

November 2016
Beer: Nelson, She Wrote
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 12.3%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

December 2016
Beer: The Abyss (2015)
Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.2%
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery


So, there you have it folks! 31 48 Beers from 2016 that made this Brew Fiend say DAYYUM!

It should be noted that I rate every beer against the beer style it is representing.

Hope your year was filled with AMAZING Craft Beer. Thank you to all the brewers, shops and friends that helped make this list possible.

Prost! to more Beer in 2017!
Peace, Love, Beer

All pics by: BrewFiend

12 Beers of Xmas

In an effort to get myself into the “Holiday Spirit” this year, I decided to turn to a trusted friend…BEER!

And not just any beer, but Real, Independent, Tried & True Craft Beer. Sure, the moniker is thrown around rather loosely today, but for me Craft Beer is beer produced by small, independent brewers that have no ties to “Big Beer” or do not incorporate a “Corporate Mind Set”… so, you won’t be seeing any In-Bev affiliates or a certain gargoyle-esque company who has recently placed profits over people…

Trust me when I tell you that the best beer in the world is currently being crafted by small, local breweries across the United States and every brewery on this list is one that you should seek out.

So, without any further adieu, the 12 beers that got me through the commercialized holiday we call Xmas:

The 12th Beer of Xmas
Beer: Leche Mole (Mexican Milk Stout) 6.8% ABV
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
Location: Anaheim, CA
Rating: 4.5/5



This beer is truly a present that I look forward to every year. This is the first Bottle Logic Beer that I fell in love with. Think Abuelita’s Chocolate with a hint of spice. Add the words NITRO, and this was liquid velvet coating my throat with Stouty goodness. [You may still be able to find it on tap…]

The 11th Beer of Xmas
Beer: Nelson, She Wrote (Triple IPA) 12.3% ABV
Brewery: Noble Ale Works
Location: Anaheim, CA
Rating: 4.75/5



At Noble’s last Anniversary party, I spent the after-party making out with Nelson Triple Yum Yum. It was hands down one of the best Triples I’ve ever had. Well, this time around, Noble decided to give it a rebrand and maybe a minor tweek. Lucky for me, I drank this one right before it started to malt over (my last one was a tasty malt bomb). The secret is to drink these fast, but at 12%, Damn…

The 10th Beer of Xmas
Beer: BLAM! BLAM! (Yeasty IPA) 7% ABV
Brewery: Modern Times Beer (Collaboration with Garage Project)
Location: San Diego, CA
Rating: 4.25/5


NorthEast IPA meets WestCoast IPA with a lovely Nelson hopped juice bomb. Grapefruity and delicious, though I didn’t like this one as much as Underworld Dreams, I certainly went through the 4 pack a lot quicker. I’d drink it soon if you are still sitting on it…

The 9th Beer of Xmas
Beer: The Butcher (Stygian Imperial Stout) 7% ABV
Brewery: Societe Brewing
Location: San Diego, CA
Rating: 5/5


Roasty, delicious, devastating. This brew instantly became one of my favorite stouts. It was like chewing on chocolate with a lovely hoppy bitterness to it. I bought two bottles on my brewery visit and drank the 2nd one the next night. [My wife wanted some beer and said: “I want whichever one you smelled like last night…” Priceless.]

The 8th Beer of Xmas
Beer: Awkward Hug (Yeasty IPA) 7% ABV
Brewery: Kent Falls Brewing
Location: Kent, CT
Rating: 4/5



This beer drinks like a session. A nice fruity, juicy IPA that was so fresh tasting. This was my 3rd beer from this outfit and everything thus far has been delicious. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a steady supply from my East Coast comrade.

The 7th Beer of Xmas
Beer: Feel This Coffee IPA (Coffee IPA) 7.3% ABV (Collaboration with Dark Matter Coffee & The Descendents)
Brewery: Mikkeller Brewing
Location: San Diego, CA
Rating: 4.5/5


This beer definitely gets better as it warms. Super Hop Forward, but that Hypercaffium Spazzinate still pokes through to produce one thoroughly enjoyable beer. Definitely one of the better Coffee IPAs I’ve had.

The 6th Beer of Xmas
Beer: 5 LB Sledgehammer (Double IPA) 9.1% ABV
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing
Location: El Segundo, CA
Rating: 4.5/5



Dank & Resinous, just how I prefer it. This one was a no-nonsense WEST COAST DIPA at its finest. Simcoe and Mosaic to the MAXX! Enough said.

The 5th Beer of Xmas
Beer: CoDependent (Yeasty IPA) 6.3% ABV
Brewery: Noble Ale Works
Location: Anaheim, CA
Rating: 4/5


This beer was brewed in honor of one of my favorite breweries, Beachwood Brewing. While not my favorite of Noble’s recent foray into the juice, this was definitely an easy drinker with some nice flavors going on.

The 4th Beer of Xmas
Beer: Inner Geek Ale (Brown Ale) 5% ABV
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
Location: Anaheim, CA
Rating: 3.75/5



This beer was brewed in honor of the 25th Anniversary of Blizzard Entertainment. (The folks that created Diablo, WOW & Overwatch). While the Label Art was absolutely amazing, the beer was a little thin and nowhere near the type of Brown I’d expect from Bottle Logic. It had some nice flavor and got a little better as it warmed, but there was something funky I just didn’t like about it…oh well, sometimes you shoot and miss…

The 3rd Beer of Xmas
Beer: Lumppacoal (Imperial Porter) 6.3% ABV
Brewery: Noble Ale Works
Location: Anaheim, CA
Rating: 4.5/5



Roasty, Chocolatey goodness. This is exactly what I am looking for in an Imperial Porter. I wanted a growler, but sadly it’s a tasting room only offering. Let’s hope it’s a yearly tradition…

The 2nd Beer of Xmas
Beer: Diavoletto (Super Session IPA) 3% ABV
Brewery: Bissell Brothers
Location: Portland, ME
Rating: 4.5/5



I was so iffy about this beer when I received it from a friend. I’ve never been a big fan of Table Beers and don’t even drink Sessions that often. But, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the extreme flavorful-ness of this beer. It was like one of the best glasses of Grapefruit Juice that I’ve ever had. I could seriously see this being in my fridge on a regular basis if it was readily available.

The 1st Beer of Xmas
Beer: The Nothing (Double Chocolate Imperial Stout) 9.3% ABV
Brewery: Smog City Brewing
Location: Torrance, CA
Rating: 4.5/5



This is one super dark, chocolatey SOMETHING! When I want a Chocolate Stout, I want a CHOCOLATE STOUT! And this brew will not disappoint. The best present I received on Xmas! Nothing like giving gifts to yourself…

And there you have it folks; 12 beers that got me through 12 days of 2016. While the bulk of these beers are readily available in Orange County, CA a couple of them made their way to me from across the country and I’m so grateful for the chance to try them.

If you completed a Beer Advent Calendar or something similar this year, let me know what you drank, as I’m always looking for new brews!
Peace, Love, Beer!

BrewFiend
(Note: Some days, 1 beer just doesn’t cut it, for up to the minute brew reviews follow my Untappd feed at Brew_Fiend) 

All 📸 by: BrewFiend

Yeasties

Hollaback Beer? Yep, a beer that’s so delicious that it tastes just like juice and has you wishing you could be drinking it during your morning meeting, along with a bagel and lox…

Vermont Style IPAs or YeastCoast IPAs, as I’ve affectionately coined them, are popping up at every brewery around the country from Brooklyn to Torrance…and with them is coming a new “unorthodox” style of beer that has many in the beer comunity in a quandry for how to classify these uniquely cloudy IPAs.

I for one, am of the opinion that these delicious beauties should have their own distinct classification, apart from traditional and west coast variations of the IPA style. At this point, these beers have tread some pretty unfamiliar territory in the realm of craft brewing. And their cult like following, has assured them a place in the hearts, minds and palattes of beer lovers the world over.

I’ve recently been blessed with the opportunity to try a variety of these beers from Jupiter, Florida to Anaheim, California and I can wholeheartedly say that I am a huge fan.  But the fact remains, that I do not classify these beers as IPAs, but rather YIPAs…

Agree with me or not, I think that we can all agree that the entire craft beer community has benefited from brewers and breweries choosing to push boundaries and emulate one another when it behooves them to do so, to push the “industry” forward.

I’d love to hear what folks think about the matter…

Here are a few pics of some of the finer YIPAs i’ve been able to try (Please note this may include Pale Ales.)

Dankstar Pale Ale (Civil Society Brewing Co.: Jupiter, FL)

                
Eating Other Editors (Monkish Brewing Co.: Torrance, CA)

Hazeflux (Bottle Logic Brewing Co,: Anaheim, CA)

Haze Shift (Bottle Logic Brewing Co.: Anaheim, CA)

Spock It (Monkish Brewing Co.: Torrance, CA)

Dank You for Being a Friend (Noble Ale Works: Anaheim, CA in collaboration with Cellarmaker Brewing Co.: San Francisco, CA)


Bench Buddies (Civil Society Brewing Co.: Jupiter, FL in collaboration with Angry Chair Brewing Co.: Tampa, FL)

Mage Hand (Modern Times Beer: San Diego, CA)

Juicy is the New Dank (Noble Ale Works: Anaheim, CA)

Hazelus (The Bruery: Placentia, CA)

Parabajava: The Experience

Bourbon intertwined with beer has quickly become a favorite flavor experience to my thrillseeking pallette.  And when a brewery can seamlessly intermix other of my favorite flavors such as espresso coffee into said  experience, not only am I down, but I will gladly go out of my way to procur said libation.  Luckily for me, sometimes, just sometimes, your beer karma comes around and a fellow follower of the craft rains blessings like SCUD missles upon you.  And recently, I experienced said bombing.  A friend I’ve made trading beer with blessed me with a bottle of Firestone Walker’s 2015 Parabajava Barrel-Aged Imperial Coffee Stout.  And as my beer fridge is crowding as quickly as Chino, I had to take the plunge and start drinking some fancy brews.  Here’s the thing though, I didn’t realize that this was Bourbon Barrel Aged until after I cracked the top…oh well, here I am five hours later, still sipping and waxing poetic on this fantastically crafted Russian Imperial Stout type BBA brew.  This has aged so nicely since last year, and it’s so smooth considering it weighs in at 14% ABV, I upped my Heavy Weight badge on Untappd a level with this beauty.  I’m not one to sit and describe beers, but I think it’s suffice to say that this beer perfectly brings together the flavors of Coffee, Chocolate, Bourbon and Stout.  And, if you are a fan of said items, or more importantly a fiend for said items, you will enjoy this beer.  Not sure how easily you could procur a bottle of 2015 at this point, but I for one, will always be on the lookout for this one going forward.  If you’re on the ledge about purchasing beers over $20 a bottle, all I can say is that sometimes quality costs…Hopefully, my enthusiasm over this one (I haven’t posted in 7 months…) prompts you to seek it out.  Happy Hunting.  Peace, Love, Beer!

BrewFiend