85 Breweries, doing it right…

According to the Brewers Association, there were 5,301 breweries operating in the United States in 2017.  5,301.  Let that sink in.

As I’ve said before, I’m not happy unless I’m drinking a beer that received a rating of at least 4 on my Untappd account.  With so much competition in the realm of Craft Beer, I’m very discriminating and a brewery can easily find itself on my DO NOT DRINK list with too many subpar offerings.  I’m all for experimentation, but that’s what small batches are for…

What follows is a list of 171 new beers I tried this year from 85 breweries that get it.  To be clear, these beers are all good and I would gladly drink them again, they weren’t out of this world…but they were excellent representations of their style.

Listed below, in alphabetic order, are the 85 breweries and their offerings that left me satisfied.

Abnormal Beer Co. (San Diego, CA)

  • New Money – Hazy IPA 7% ABV

Aftershock Brewing Co. (Temecula, CA)

  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale – Brown Ale 5.5% ABV

AleSmith Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)

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

Alvarado Street Brewery (Monterey, CA)

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

Amplified Ale Works (San Diego, CA)

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

Artifex Brewing Company (San Clemente, CA)

  • Amarillo Happy – Pale Ale 5.5% ABV

Asylum Brewing (Anaheim, CA)

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

Bagby Beer Company (Oceanside, CA)

  • Struggle Bus – Pale Ale 4.8%

Barley Forge Brewing Co. (Costa Mesa, CA)

  • Karl Hungus – Schwarzbier 5.2% ABV

BarrelHouse Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, CA)

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

Beachwood Blendery (Long Beach, CA)

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

Beachwood Brewing (Long Beach, CA)

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

Bear Republic Brewing Company (Cloverdale, CA)

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

Belching Beaver Brewery (Vista, CA)

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

Bells’ Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI)

  • Hopslam Ale (2017) – DIPA 10% ABV

Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim, CA)

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

Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO)

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

Brouwerij West (San Pedro, CA)

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

Burial Beer Co. (Asheville, NC)

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

Carton Brewing (Highlands, NJ)

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

Cellarmaker Brewing Co. (San Francisco, CA)

  • Double Moonage – Hazy DIPA 8.4% ABV

Cigar City Brewing Company (Tampa, FL)

  • Good Gourd – Imperial Pumpkin Beer 8.8% ABV

Civil Society Brewing Co.

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

Claremont Craft Ales (Claremont, CA)

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

Cycle Brewing (St. Petersburg, FL)

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

Deep River Brewing Company (Clayton, NC)

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

Docent Brewing (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

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

El Segundo Brewing Co. (El Segundo, CA)

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

Epic Brewing Company (Salt Lake City, UT)

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

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

  • No Hero – Oatmeal Stout 7% ABV

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. (Buellton, CA)

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

Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)

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

Fremont Brewing (Seattle, WA)

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

Garage Project (Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand)

  • Death From Above – IPA 7.5% ABV

Great Divide Brewing Company (Denver, CO)

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

Green Cheek Beer Company (Orange, CA)

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

Grimm Artisanal Ales (Brooklyn, NY)

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

Hamilton Family Brewery (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

  • Double Mango – DIPA 8.2% ABV

Highland Park Brewery (Los Angeles, CA)

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

Homage Brewing (Pomona, CA)

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

Indie Brewing Company (Los Angeles, CA)

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

Industrial Arts Brewing Company (Garnerville, NY)

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

Interboro Spirits & Ales (Brooklyn, NY)

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

Karl Strauss Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)

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

King Harbor Brewing Company (Redondo Beach, CA)

  • Lupulines – IPA 7.5% ABV

Lagunitas Brewing Company (Selloutville, USA)

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

Left Coast Brewing Co. (San Clemente, CA)

  • Hop Juice – Triple IPA 10% ABV

Los Angeles Ale Works (Hawthorne, CA)

  • Blume – Berliner Weisse 3.5% ABV

MadeWest Brewing Company (Ventura, CA)

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

Mason Ale Works (San Marcos, CA)

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

Melvin Brewing (Jackson, WY)

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

Mikerphone Brewing (Elk Grove Village, IL)

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

Mikkeller Brewing (San Diego, CA)

  • Waves (Bolger) – IPA 7.3% ABV

Modern Times Beer (San Diego, CA)

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

Mumford Brewing (Los Angeles, CA)

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

New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)

  • Fat Tire Belgian White – Witbier 5.2% ABV

New Glory Craft Brewery (Sacramento, CA)

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

Noble Ale Works (Anaheim, CA)

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

Odd 13 Brewing (Lafayette, CO)

  • Codename: Superfan – Hazy IPA 6.5% ABV

Offshoot Beer Co. (Placentia, CA)

  • Stirred – Hazy DIPA 8.1% ABV

Omnipollo (Brewed by Dorchester Brewing in Boston, MA)

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

Perrin Brewing Co. (Comstock Park, MI)

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

Pizza Port Brewing Co. (San Clemente, CA)

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

Pure Project (San Diego, CA)

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

Relic Brewing Co. (Plainville, CT)

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

Revision Brewing Company (Sparks, NV)

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

Riip Beer Company (Huntington Beach, CA)

  • Super Cali – IPA 7.2% ABV

Rushing Duck Brewing Co. (Chester, NY)

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

Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA)

  • Dribble Belt – Pale Ale 4.5% ABV

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (Capitola, CA)

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

Second Chance Beer Co. (San Diego, CA)

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

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)

  • Celebration Ale – IPA 6.8% ABV

Smog City Brewing (Torrance, CA)

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

Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA)

  • Enjoy By 12.25.17 – Unfiltered DIPA 9.4% ABV

TAPS Fish House & Brewery (Brea, CA)

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

The Alchemist (Stowe, VT)

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

The Bruery (Placentia, CA)

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

Thomas Hooker Brewing Co. (Bloomfield, CT)

  • #nofilter – Hazy IPA 7% ABV

Three Weavers Brewing Company (Inglewood, CA)

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

Toppling Goliath Brewing Company (Decorah, IA)

  • Golden Nugget – IPA 6.3% ABV

Torched Hop Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA)

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

Track 7 Brewing Company (Sacramento, CA)

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

Trillium Brewing Company (Boston, MA)

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

Tustin Brewing Company (Tustin, CA)

  • Leche Coco Loco – Milkstout 5.5% ABV

Two Roads Brewing Company (Stratford, CT)

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

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

Peace, Love, Beer!

All photos by: BrewFiend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Best of 2017

2017 has come and gone and this year, 23 beers have left a lasting impression on my palate.

One brewery led the way with 6 entries on this most prestigious list, and that brewery was Orange, California’s Green Cheek Brewery. Evan and company burst on to the scene in 2017 and actually earned 7 entries on the best of list, one entry was in collaboration with El Segundo Brewing Company

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

What followed was an all out assault on the craft beer world with such fantastic West Coast Inspired releases as Radiant Beauty IPA, West Coast is Dead IPA and West in Peace DIPA.

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

The assault continued into the realm of Hazy IPAs with Attack With Love and even branched out into the Lager realm with Bier and Evan’s Michelada (A Must Have on any Brewery Visit!).

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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.

img_0097
The level of Coffee deliciousness in FOMO is indescribable.

Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works kept themselves relevant in light of Evan’s departure, with some wondrous Hazy DIPAs; Starting off the year with 24K Juice

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

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

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

Much like Green Cheek, San Diego’s Pure Brewing Project took the craft beer world by storm this year and cranked out such solid offerings as Murklands, a Hazy Pale Ale and Digital Detox, a Hazy IPA that were both to die for…

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

The West Coast IPA saw some righteous treatment from San Diego’s Alpine Brewing with their super dank release of Windows Up. And Beachwood Brewing solidified their role as West Coast Masters with a Double Dry Hopped version of their Melrose IPA.

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

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

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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

img_0107
Skillet Donut…DAMN!

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

img_0091
El BBA Mas Fina! Big, Bad Baptista!

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

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

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

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

This year, 2 sours/ American Wild Ales even made the list with Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks and their barrel wizard Sour Jim introducing us to Krieky Bones and the Bay Area’s The Rare Barrel who wowed me with Ensorcelled…

While 2017 was loaded full of delicious Craft Beers, these 24 were the standouts and should be on any self respecting craft beer lovers radar. I would never say these are the “best” as taste is relative, but if you are looking for a gateway to great beer, look no further.

I hope your 2018 is full of Fantastic , Independent Craft Beer!

Drink Good Beer, Craft Beer.

All Photos By: BrewFiend

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.

Food and Beer?

When it comes to OC breweries, the number of breweries with a kitchen attached are few and far between…

At most local breweries, hungry patrons queue in line at whatever the food truck of the day is, that’s when there is a food truck on site.  But what do you do if you want to spend a day eating great food as an accompaniment to your craft beer adventures?

Well, when you are in or near Costa Mesa, California, you could head on over to Barley Forge Brewing, where food, wine, and craft soda serve as the perfect accompaniments to fantastic locally crafted beer.

Based on a concept years in the making, BFBC brings a uniquely Americana feel to Orange County’s craft beer scene, both in packaging design and brewery functionality.

The brewery offers a host of games as well as free popcorn for you to enjoy. And based on the fact they have food, wine and craft soda available, it’s the perfect meet-up location for you to invite even your non-beer drinking friends (if you have any…you can even bring the kids…reminds me of Midwestern Breweries ala Capitol Brewing of my old stomping grounds in Madison/Middleton, Wisconsin)

Aside from their The Patsy, Coconut Rye Stout, that is a must try, I highly recommend Future Tripping DIPA and Fugue State RIS (barrel aged version if it’s available).

Now, they even have free live music on Thursday nights!

All in all, a highly successful endeavor that above all else produces FANTASTIC, locally crafted beer. So the next free weekend you have, come down and check them out. You will not be disappointed.  I must confess, I stop in whenever I’m nearby…

Until next time, Drink Good Beer! Craft Beer!

Photo Credit: BrewFiend

Time is not on my side…

The perfect beer blog should inform people of…blah, blah, blah.

People often refer to me as a Jack-of-all-trades, I know just a enough on a multitude of subjects to be dangerous…While I don’t know everything there is to know about beer or brewing, I have an awful lot of experience with smelling, sampling, repeating and discovering what tastes good to me.

(so much good beer! such little time…)

Whether in my adopted state of Wisconsin (Madison, Madtown–I miss you, go Badgers!)[Blasphemy when considering I’m an Illinois native and alum…]or my third state to call “home” California, I’ve sought out beer that I like and sought it out often.

Unfortunately for me, I tend to be a bit of a “collector” when I find something that peaks my attention.  And so I’ve been around the brewery block more than a few times as they say…

I’ve mildly dabbled in trading or the infamous “beer mail”, And I must confess I’m guilty of using a suitcase much larger than I needed so that I could transport some East Coast Craft across the entire country to my West Coast home.  My wife just looked at me in disbelief when she saw me packing bubble wrap, then semi-amazement as she watched me unpack a sixer of Jai Alai IPA and a bomber of Southern Tier Unearthly IPA.

(Baggage Fee? It was a business trip, the company paid that…)

While I can opine with the best of the them on what new beer a brewery just released or what last year’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Pugachev’s Cobra tasted like or what some website or app said is the perfect/best beer;  I question whether most casual beer drinkers care about that?

How is information on the nuance and minutia of beer and brewing useful to them, especially if they are just beginning to dabble in the world of craft?

One of the things I love about beer is that it offers different things to different people.  Whether you are interested in drinking it, collecting it, brewing it or whatever, there is a realm of knowledge available on the subject.

For me, beer opens a whole new world of knowledge to acquire, conquer and then help disperse.  Sharing information with people who are interested is something I have always loved to do, regardless of the subject.

So, here at craft beer confessions, all that you will get is honest to goodness opinions from a “beer snob” who believes that while beer may mean different things to different people, all beer is not created equal, but good beer is irrefutable.

Lately I’ve made an effort to get my “collecting” under a bit of control and that’s lucky for you, as this post is intended to share some “Regular Release” brews that are waiting on local stores’ shelves for you to come and blow 10 bones on a World-Class American Craft Beer drinking experience.

Drinking the latest Double IPA from Stone or enjoying a bottle of Bottle Logic’s Wine Barrel Aged Wheat Ale is fantastic, but lesbihonest, it can get costly.  And when there are so many affordable alternatives there’s no reason to break the bank every weekend.  The trouble is that in a realm of so many possibilities people often get overwhelmed and stick with what they know…

Nevertheless, fear not craft beer drinking brethren for I am with thee and will always point you down the path of the righteous ale or lager.  I’ve been trying to find the time to finish this post for almost three months, but just like brewing great beer, so it is with writing about beer; it may not be there when you want it, but it’s always on time.  While time may not be on my side, the time to enjoy good beer is upon you; and with that thought in mind, here are some of my recent pick ups that I am sure you will enjoy. Prost!

Karl Strauss Brewing Red Trolley Ale

The term Award Winning never really does much for me, but in this case I must admit it is warranted to read too much into this. Red’s aren’t a typical beer for me.  There was a time perhaps 15 year ago (pre hop-head days) when I lived for Ambers and Reds.  But after having my taste buds assaulted by the West Coast, low IBU beers just don’t cut it for me most days…

RTA is a beer I drank an awful lot of when I first moved to SoCal and as I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I recently decided to revisit this SoCal Classic. If you’re looking for a straight-forward, easy drinking beer to expose new friends to craft or just to enjoy with Monday Night Football, then look no further as Karl knows good beer.

Barley Forge Brewing The Patsy

If you like Coconuts, then I’m suggesting Coconuts migrate into your bloodstream via the liquid goodness that is Barley Forge’s The Patsy Coconut Rye Stout.  BFB burst onto the OC Craft Beer Scene last year and with the help of The Patsy has springboarded to the forefront of the scene. I guarantee you that anyone who has an open mind about beer and new things will LOVE this beer.  This is one of the only beers I’ve ever bought a T-shirt to represent… The fact that you can get a six pack for around $10 is ridiculous, so find it and drink it, often…

Modern Times Beer Blazing World

Ok, so this beer isn’t technically under $10, it’s $12 and it’s only a 4-pack, but it’s pints and it’s 64 ounces of confused GLORY!  This beer was my “Beer of the Year” 2 years ago and if the words HOPPY, DANK, AMBER excite you as much as they do me, then you want to try this <cough>IPA…

Seriously, I don’t care what you label it, nothing quite hits the spot for me like a world or in this case your taste buds set afire…this is not for the “casual” drinker, you must like Hops, I mean love Hops to enjoy this beer.

On a side note, all their flagship beers are available in 4-packs and right around $10 (this being the exception and it’s worth it.) and all of them are Fantastic, just depends on what you are in the mood for.  I certainly wouldn’t pass on the Black House Stout if coffee is your thing.

New Belgium Brewing Ranger IPA

NBB was one of the Craft Pioneers responsible for bringing flavorful, delicious beers to market and to the masses and Ranger is no exception. Through the use of Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe NBB is able to craft a highly drinkable and flavorful IPA than can hold its own with the West Coast.  Always respect the classics.

These are just a few of my recent pick-ups that are definitely worth a try. Give em a whirl and let me know if I’ve steered you wrong…

Until next time, happy hunting and remember Drink Good Beer! Craft Beer!

Photo Credit: BrewFiend