In my “never-ending” quest to discover my “perfect beer” this year (notice I say my, as “the” perfect beer can only exist to you…), I came across 12 almost perfect beers. This dirty dozen was just so close, but in the end needed just a bit more to be there with the elite beers of 2017. I would call this 2017’s B Team… (though more of an A- really…) to be clear, all of these beers were FANTASTIC!
If you’re anything like me, you rate beers within an instant of the first taste/smell. You know as soon as that sweet, hoppy, malty goodness hits your tongue how this beer in particular, sizes up against the examples you’ve enjoyed from that style. And though some beers do seem to “improve” as they warm, I usually go with my first impression. These were the beers that I rated as 4.75 on Untappd.
Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works led the way taking up 1/4 of this year’s “Almost Perfect” 12-pack. Whether it’s fantastic Hazy DIPAs or Imperial Coffee Stouts, Noble was on point all year long.
Double Platinum and the brewery only release Because You’re Worth It provided further proof that Noble knows Hazy DIPAs (see my Best of 2017 post for their best).
Ending the year with a fantastic canned Imperial Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with 2nd Craft was brilliant as was the name, Whoomp! There It Is, and there it was indeed with such toasty, roasty, delicious coffee flavor!
In classic Bottle Logic fashion, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing added 2 Barrel Aged entries to this year’s twelver. When it comes to Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts, Bottle Logic is Orange County’s “Lord of the Dance”. This year’s Week of Logic preview of their now iconic Fundamental Observation was almost perfect (and that was a preview, mind you…).
Vamp up their Ground State with an infusion of Mostra Coffee and you have Reaction State (which hopefully remains part of the Stasis Project) another in a long line of fantastic coffee infused collaborations from this awesome duo. So much delicious coffee flavor that blended almost perfectly with that bourbon…
Surprisingly, Hazy IPAs and DIPAs took up another 1/4 of this 12-pack. When it comes to Hazies in Southern California most people think of one brewery and that brewery, Monkish Brewing Co. added a fantastic Double Dry Hopped Double IPA to the pack. Foggier Window was an amped up version of Foggy Window (which I rated at 4.25) where the DDH did so much to make this beer even more delicious.
And although they were the new kid on the block this year, Orange’s Green Cheek Beer Company jumped right in and claimed a spot on Orange County’s list of Haze Master’s. Their Wherever You Land Hazy IPA was a delicious burst of West Coast Haze illustrating just how quickly Evan mastered this style while staying true to his West Coast roots.
Another newer OC brewery to quickly establish themselves as being in the know when it comes to the Haze Craze was Anaheim’s (or is it Tustin’s?) Unsung Brewing Co. — They wowed me with Triangulum from their Nebuloid IPA Series and left me thirsting for more…(still have to try that Cat’s Cradle…)
Not surprisingly, 2 DIPAs, West Coast Style Double IPAs, to be exact made this year’s “Almost Perfect” pack. Perennial All-Stars El Segundo Brewing Company did not disappoint with their Wet Hopped Citra-Mongous DIPA that was so close to being perfect, I bet it was at their tasting room…
San Diego’s Modern Times Beer (Who’s gonna claim them next year?) saw fit to somehow try and improve on their masterpiece flagship beer Blazing World, by making a double Dry Hopped Version and they almost succeeded at perfection. Mega Blazing World was an other-worldly Hoppy Amber though they have yet to finally admit it’s an IPA…
The only beer in my “Almost Perfect” 12-pack not from a California brewery was this year’s Christmas Bomb! From Prairie Artisan Ales. This massive 13% Imperial Stout went down way too easy!
[I’d like to thank the good folks at Bradley’s in Tustin, CA for always keeping me stocked with fantastic beer and always looking out for me. Much Love!]
The final entry and definitely the “Most Interesting” beer I’ve ever tasted in my entire life was riip Beer Company’s Kalua Porker, a Pork, yes PORK! Infused Baltic Porter. This was the brain child of Trevor and this year’s addition to Firkfest. I was fortunate to get to serve this beer at the festival and I may or may not have taken home a growler…I couldn’t just dump all that deliciousness as instructed…sorry Trev!
So there you have it folks, my 12 pack of “Almost Perfect” Beers (which oddly enough is exactly half as many as “Perfect” beers I had this year…)
And while I’m never one to tell people what they should drink, I’d highly suggest that you put these beers on your radar and if they are still available, find them!
I hope your 2017 was full of fantastic Craft Beer and that your 2018 overflows with your perfect and almost perfect brews.
2017 has come and gone and this year, 23 beers have left a lasting impression on my palate.
One brewery led the way with 6 entries on this most prestigious list, and that brewery was Orange, California’s Green Cheek Brewery. Evan and company burst on to the scene in 2017 and actually earned 7 entries on the best of list, one entry was in collaboration with El Segundo Brewing Company…
What followed was an all out assault on the craft beer world with such fantastic West Coast Inspired releases as Radiant Beauty IPA, West Coast is Dead IPA and West in Peace DIPA.
The assault continued into the realm of Hazy IPAs with Attack With Love and even branched out into the Lager realm with Bier and Evan’s Michelada (A Must Have on any Brewery Visit!).
When it came to Bourbon Barrel Aged Offerings, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing still reigned supreme; with such offerings as Fundamental Observation
and a coffee infused variant FOMO brewed in collaboration with Mostra Coffee.
Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works kept themselves relevant in light of Evan’s departure, with some wondrous Hazy DIPAs; Starting off the year with 24K Juice
and ending it strong with a DDH version, known as 48K Juice.
Much like Green Cheek, San Diego’s Pure Brewing Project took the craft beer world by storm this year and cranked out such solid offerings as Murklands, a Hazy Pale Ale and Digital Detox, a Hazy IPA that were both to die for…
The West Coast IPA saw some righteous treatment from San Diego’s Alpine Brewing with their super dank release of Windows Up. And Beachwood Brewing solidified their role as West Coast Masters with a Double Dry Hopped version of their Melrose IPA.
Hazy Pale Ales made a strong showing this year with fantastic releases from HenHouse Brewing, their #Stoked Series was off the hook !
and New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing, whose Low Visibility Pale showed just how far down these cats could boogie…
Stouts were alive and well the country over this year; as evidenced by such strong releases as North Carolina’s Burial Brewing Co.’s Skillet Donut Stout
Utah’s Epic Brewing’s fabled Big Bad Baptista Mexican Inspired BA Imperial Stout
Denver, Colorado’s consistently epic Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Oatmeal Stout from the masters at Great Divide Brewing Company,
and Costa Mesa, California’s The Patsy courtesy of Barley Forge Brewing Co. brewed in collaboration with Thunder King Coffee.
This year, 2 sours/ American Wild Ales even made the list with Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks and their barrel wizard Sour Jim introducing us to Krieky Bones and the Bay Area’s The Rare Barrel who wowed me with Ensorcelled…
While 2017 was loaded full of delicious Craft Beers, these 24 were the standouts and should be on any self respecting craft beer lovers radar. I would never say these are the “best” as taste is relative, but if you are looking for a gateway to great beer, look no further.
I hope your 2018 is full of Fantastic , Independent Craft Beer!
In today’s “craft beer” scene a large group of “beer drinkers” have begun flocking towards “new” and “untested” offerings at the expense of perfected and dialed-in “flagship” beers. A walk down the aisle at any “in the know” liquor store or liquor chain, quickly reveals a dizzying bevy of beer offerings that is enough to leave even the seasoned connoisseur feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. A large reason for this is craft brewer’s attempts to find the newest and latest taste profile that aligns with the palate of folks who are looking for a quick fix of exsclusivity rather than a liquid piece of art. I for one, am of the opinion that while “new” is good, “dialed-in” is better. Unfortunately, in our rush to discover, we often forget to remember, and as a result miss out on the dependability that the “old” has to offer. I have to admit that even I have found myself caught up in the hysteria at times, but thankfully I’m always prompted to take a step back.
I recently was in the mood for a delicious Stout and perusing the aisles, at my local chain store, I made eye contact with an old friend.
“You believe!” He said to me. “We’ve sat and pondered existence, not just mine, but yours too, plenty a time”.
“We have.” I retorted.
And proceeded to take him from his place on the shelf. Though it had been quite some time since we’d last spoke, we picked up right where we left off.
And I swear that he’d even gotten better. Or maybe, nostalgia just brings out the best in people…
[Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, was one of the first really fantastic stouts I tried while beginning my journey down the path of craft beer. So hoppy, toasty and delicious; I can best describe it as a Stout/IPA Hybrid. It’s just so thick, hearty and rounded. Great Divide has been doing it right for over two decades. And if you’re a self respecting beer drinker, but have never tried them, I’d recommend — everything. Go build yourself a sixer. You have to love a company whose slogan is “Great minds drink alike” and then backs it up with their offerings.]
My experience reminded me that life isn’t always about passing fancies, and sometimes you have to remember what you forgot, because dependability is truly a virtue.
Now, I’m not advocating an end to new releases and experimentation, But I just think that in our rush to emulate in order to innovate, we’re starting to lose some of the artisanship and craftsmanship that made us fall in love with “micro-brews” in the first place.
I’m glad that I remembered what I hadn’t forgotten, but just hadn’t thought about in a while — sometimes, you just need to Yeti…
Hopefully’ craft beer lovers the world over don’t forget to drink the “classics”.
If you’ve been a fan of craft beer long enough, chances are that you’ve taken a walk or at the very least a gander down the road of Home Brewing. Though it’s not for everyone, it certainly is fascinating to watch someone who really gets it.
Lucky for me, I have a friend who’s “home brewing” operation is not your run-of-the-mill, something you see every day sort of set up. Like all masterful Brewers, Joe M., as he shall be called, built almost every piece of his set-up with his own two hands…from drilling into kettles, to crafting his own temperature gauge and pumping system, he dives in to any challenge that arises. And the end result is truly a glorious work to behold. Maybe it’s his German ancestry, or the fact that he’s an artist and a muscian, or maybe it’s just the fact that he’s a renaissance man…either way, I’m lucky to be in his company and to be able to learn the ways of the craft…
In our latest brewing adventure, Massively Minuscule Brewing, brewed up a variant of one of our flagship beers, Coal Miner’s Hands, a Robust Porter. (Think Chocolatey Goodness in beer form…)
But before we kicked the day off, we toasted to a great brew day! I was blessed with a bottle of Evil Twin & Trillum’s Stout baby: Dusk trill Dawn, from a friend out in New York and this was the perfect occasion to take down this beast. This lovely taste of coffee stout was exactly the little sip we needed to start the day off right.
With the ceremonies out of the way, and the water all boiled and ready to go, we set our sights on dialing in the Robust Porter. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten giddy over science at work, but this process is something truly exciting to learn. So much knowledge to be gained…Here’s a look at the “recipe”.
The Mash Tun is where the magic really starts to happen. Here, Head Brewer, Joe M. checks the gauges to ensure a proper brew.
Water is life and such a key component to the process, luckily we have some decent water in Tustin and a charcoal filter certainly helps…A look inside the Mash Tun:
If you’ve ever home brewed, you’ve heard the term “sparging”. The Sparge Arm is a key component of the brewing setup.
Litmus Test? Something like that. Again, science at work. Ph is important to ensure you get the result you anticipated.
The third and final kettle, the boil kettle is where the mash meets the hops. Joe M. recently upgraded the brew rig with a hop filter and ever the perfectionist, created a filter for that filter…this was in hopes of eliminating a clogging issue. Though the new filter modification did not work as anticipated, it set the stage for more tinkering and perfecting. A home brewer’s work is never done…A look inside the Boil Kettle:
Though brewing operations are full of lots of equipment and scientific type items, there should always be room for fun! A spectrometer is used to check your gravity levels in order to determine your beer’s ABV. But most folks just think it’s “neat” to look through, makes them seem scientific…
When all 3 kettles have completed their work, into the conical fermenter the luscious, aromatic liquid goes…it will be weeks before this concoction of water, barley, hops and yeast is ready to please palates.
Even after the fermenter is hard at work there is still work to be done. Cleaning up and getting ready for the next brew day is the most important part of the day.
Luckily, MMB has it’s own resident “cleaner” who gets down on it until the job is done…
And once everything is nice and clean and put away…well, we enjoy some fruits of previous labors and anticipate the day when Coal Miner’s Hands Robust Porter hits the taps at West Coast Brewer…
Hopefully you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the joy of home brewing. On any scale, it is certainly an undertaking and something that requires passion and dedication to be done correctly. I only wish that I could share the fruits of Massively Minuscule Brewing with you…perhaps someday…Until then, keep brewing up and supporting deliciously crafted Craft Beer and Home Brew!
By now, 2016 has hopefully washed out of everyone’s systems, and we are ready for a new year full of new hopes and new beers!
But before I close the chapter on the year that was 2016, I wanted to take a quick moment to recognize some excellence in brewmeistering that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With the advent of apps like Untappd, it’s become so easy for people to rank, rate and comment on others’ work without ever taking the time to step back and really look at and appreciate some of the liquid accomplishments that we all enjoy and love. Sure, the best beer is the one in your hand, but when you collect beers like I do (by collect beers, I mean collect tastes, flavors, beer names, abvs..sorry, I’m weird) it’s important to take the time to make some sense of all the data that’s been collected.
While my recent posts have focused on beers that received ratings of 4.5 and higher, this post focuses on those beers that were just a step-above the average beers I drank this year. The bulk of beers I drank this year received a rating of 4. For me, if you are a brewery and you are not brewing a line-up that averages in the 4s, you don’t belong in the business. Your friends like your beers and they like any beers…Thankfully, there are a slew of breweries across the country (and even the world…one brew from the Other Side made this list…) that are consistently putting out fantastic beers and even when they are experimenting, they are using the experiences to learn, revise and perfect the liquid goodness that we all then get to enjoy.
The beers on this list received a rating of 4.25 on Untappd (brew_fiend). I have divided the beers up into the following categories: Brown Ales, Witbiers, Lagers, Sours, Porters, Stouts, Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers and IPAs
Brown Ale: This is a style I don’t usually drink, but anomalies exist…And this year one such anomaly made this list.
Witbier: One of my least favorite styles of beer. If it makes my list, it’s a must try for style lovers…The lone specimen is a textbook example of the style.
Lagers: Me and Lagers are like Britain and the EU…that is to say that we really don’t like each other, but when push comes to shove, we can make nice…The fact that there are Lagers, plural, on this list; even amazes me…two?
Sours: Though I am not a huge fan of sours, I will always give credit to fantastic brewmeistering. The 3 sours that made this list are well worth seeking out.
Porters: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Coffee Porters and Imperial Porters. These two almost stouts are worth a whirl…
Stouts: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Stouts, Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Coffee Stouts and all manner of Imperial Stouts. This year proved once again that I LOVE STOUTS! And from the wave crashed shores of sunny Southern California to the Windy City of my birth, America’s Craft breweries are turning out some fantastic boundary pushing brews. The 12-pack I’m serving up is a bevy of all manner of that rich, thick, roasty goodness we all love.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers: This group contains beers that have been aged in Bourbon Barrels. While the bulk are Stouts, some Porters and Strong Ales may have snuck in there…It’s been said that 7 is god’s perfect number. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that seven beers made this year’s cut…
IPAs: This grouping can be further sub-divided into IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Black IPAs. The Black IPA sub-category encompasses Black IPAs and Double Black IPAs. It’s pretty obvious from this list what my favorite style of beer is…Unlike Sammy Hagar, 55 is a number I find pleasing and easy to remember. This year there were 55 IPAish beers that deserve a nod for being just a notch better than the rest.
The 83 beers that made this list are divided into Style. Beers within each style are listed alphabetically by Brewery then ABV where applicable.
As always, these beers are rated against the style they represent and not all beer in general…
If you are reading this, chances are that you’ve tried most of the beers on this list. And on the off chance you haven’t, you really should as these are some excellent examples of their individual styles.
Beer: Shot In The Dark Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter ABV: 11.8% Brewery: Tustin Brewing Co.
Fact: Beachwood, Bottle Logic, Modern Times, Monkish and Noble will always have SoCal on the map when it comes to fan-tastic IPAs! Though we’re always flying that West Coast Style Flag, we got this Haze on lock too…
While some may think that rating a beer is arbitrary, I find that rating beers allows me to personalize and quantify my drinking experience. I have a fairly good ability to recall how a beer tastes or the feelings it evoked, but rating it allows me to measure it against the other beers of the style that I have tried. The beauty of drinking Craft Beer is that everything is relative. Everyone has flavors they do and don’t like. Something I find amazing may underwhelm or overwhelm someone else. What follows is an account of the 58 beers that landed right on my sweet spot…I find that most great beers I try are in the 4.25 to 4.5 range on my 5 point scale. But today, I am concerned with those beers that received a rating of 4.5 on my Untappd account (Brew_Fiend)
I’ve broken the beers up into categories:
The One-Offs: These are beers that are from various styles. There were only 6 so this seemed like the best way to categorize them…anomalies…
Sours: The category name speaks for itself. Though I am not a huge fan of sours, I will always pay homage to something that tastes fantastic. The 3 sours that caught my tongue are well worth seeking out.
Barrel Aged Beers: This group contains beers that have been aged in Wine Barrels, Bourbon Barrels or a combination of both. Though truly an undertaking, this is one of my favorite styles. This year, 8 Beers were worthy of the close to perfect badge.
Stouts: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Stouts, Imperial Stouts and Specialty Stouts. Easily one of my favorite styles, I was lucky enough to try 7 supremely fantastic stouts this year.
Porters: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Porters and Imperial Porters. There were 3 stand up porters I tried this year that approached perfection.
IPAs: This grouping can be further sub-divided into IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Specialty IPAs. The Specialty IPA sub-category encompasses Session IPAs, Coffee IPAs and Double Black IPAs. Easily my favorite style of beer, there were 31 beers I tried this year that satisfied my Hop-thirst and had me craving more!
I wonder how many of these brews would be on your “Almost Perfect” List?
Hope your 2016 was filled with fantastic, real, independent craft beer! Looking forward to what America’s Craft Breweries have in store for us in 2017. Regardless of what your mood is going into 2017, be thankful that no matter what: We always have BEER!
Prost to a Blessed and Fruitful 2017! Happy New Year to You and Yours!
Wheat Ales, Brown Ales and German style beers are my least favorite. While I don’t go out of my way to try them, I will at times dabble and on occasion, I find an excellently executed example of the style. Pale Ales are one of my favorite styles of beer, though I feel that it’s been a long time since anyone has really done the style justice…What follows are the “anomalies” that I imbibed this year. I will always give props to true craftsmanship.
Beer: Hell or High Watermelon Style: Session Wheat Ale ABV: 4.9% Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Beer: Nut Brown Ale Style: Brown Ale ABV: 5% Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.
Beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale Style: American Strong Ale ABV: 7.2% Brewery: Arrogant Brewing
Beer: Long Bocks on the Beach Style: Dunkelweizen ABV: 6.9% Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
Beer: Corporate Ladder Style: Pale Ale ABV: 5.2% Brewery: Civil Society Brewing
Beer: Jungle Boogie Style: Pale Wheat Ale ABV: 5.4% Brewery: Marz Community Brewing Co.
Sours…I must say that this is a style that has grown on me over time. I drink a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar religiously every morning, so it was only a matter of time before I started down the path of the pucker…It takes a lot for me to hoot and holler about a Sour. These are 3 that should be on your “DO TRY” List. Trust me.
Beer: Tart of Darkness (2016) Style: Sour Ale ABV: 6.6% Brewery: Bruery Terreaux
Beer: Cuddlebug Style: Sour Ale ABV: 4.5% Brewery: Smog City Brewing
I don’t like Hard Alcohol, but…I am a sucker for anything Bourbon Barrel Aged and apparently Wine Barrel Aged and…basically any Barrel Aged is A-OK with me! While this list is Stout heavy, the other beers on this list are no slouches! If spirits make you do weird things, but you love the flavor, Barrel Aged Beers may be your salvation…they are mine.
Beer: Oblivion Style: Wine Barrel Aged Flanders Red Ale ABV: 8.7% Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing
Beer: The Stoic (2015) Style: Barrel Aged Belgian Quad ABV: 10.9% Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
Beer: Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout ABV: 11% Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths
Fact, I LOVE STOUTS! I must give credit where credit is due and thank Guinness for taking me down the path of the Dark Side. Though these days, I’ve upped my stout game to the “N”th degree…Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Coffee Stouts—if you got ’em, I want ’em…ALL. These almost perfect stouts should be on any self-respecting stout lovers list…
Beer: Heavy Boots Of Lead Style: Imperial Stout ABV: 11% Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths
I love history. I love beer. Beer History is the equivalent of an Acid Flashback for me…that is to say that it is highly enjoyable! Porter is the progenitor of the modern day stout. Again, thanks to Guinness for deciding to Stout up their Porter and Export it out of Ireland. The only thing as good as an Excellent Stout, is a Rich, Flavorful Porter and these are 3 such Porters…
Beer: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Style: Porter ABV: 6.4% Brewery: Funky Buddha Brewery
Beer: Lumppacoal Style: Imperial Porter ABV: 11% Brewery: Noble Ale Works
Beer: Stone 6th Anniversary Porter Style: Imperial Porter ABV: 8% Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
My Shangri-La. Hoppy, Hoppy oh and Hoppy! If I could only drink one style of beer for the rest of my life, it would hands down be IPA. There is something about a nice bitter glass of India Pale Ale that just makes my heart sing. And, I love every style of IPA. Be it, Single, Double, Triple, Session, Coffee, Red, Black…whatever! So long as it’s hoppy and preferably resinous; I’m in HEAVEN! Below is a list of all manner of IPAs that approached perfection in 2016. (This list is arranged Alphabetically by Brewery)
*This is a Hop Head’s list. No balanced IPAs made this list
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.
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: 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…”
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.
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!
(Note: Some days, 1 beer just doesn’t cut it, for up to the minute brew reviews follow my Untappd feed at Brew_Fiend)
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)
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!