27 – 2017 Brews slightly Above the Rim…

I am not sure why, but quantifying and categorizing things makes me happy. Maybe it’s the time spent in reflection or the beauty of bringing order to chaos. Either way, I thoroughly enjoy taking a look back at some of the special beers I drank this past year. What follows is a list of beers that I rated as 4.5 on Untappd. These beers were definitely above average but just shy of perfection or near-perfection for that matter.

Stouts
Winter Beers? Summer Beers? I’ll drink a good stout regardless of what the calendar says. This year, these stouts were just above the competition.

Evan from Green Cheek Beer Company didn’t skip a step or fall off this year. His Failing Up Coffee Stout was a welcome addition to the OC Stout Scene.

Those wizards currently from San Diego, Modern Times Beer, offered a fantastic variant of their flagship Oatmeal Coffee Stout. Black House w/Toasted Coconut & Cocoa Nibs Oatmeal Stout was especially nice if you could find it on Nitro!

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

The same year we saw Orange County graced with the AMAZINGNESS that is Beachwood Brewing, they managed to offer up two fantastic Russian Imperial Stouts. Tovarish (2016) Russian Imperial Stout was simply divine and the Elida Coffee Variant was to die for…

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

Recent kids on the block, San Juan Capistrano’s Docent Brewing had a strong offering with their Tonic Oatmeal Coffee Stout that was all the rage at craft beer festivals this year. I had the pleasure of serving it at OC Brew Ha Ha 2017.

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

Meanwhile, stalwart veterans, AleSmith Brewing Company canned their iconic Speedway Imperial Stout and lord was (2017) DELICIOUS!

2017 also afforded me the opportunity to finally try Great Notion Brewing. Someone brought a crowler of Double Stack Imperial Stout to the Week of Logic Wrap Party and holy hell, I finally love pancakes. If this was more fresh, I’m sure it would have been a perfect 5…

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

Barrel Aged
As in years past, my love of all things barrel aged, led me down a path of many a fantastic barrel aged beer. When it came to classics the brewmeisters at Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Hangar 24 Craft Brewery continued to deliver as this year’s Parabola (2017) and Pugachev’s Cobra (2016) were two near perfect Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stouts.

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

Collaborations were all the rage this year. Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing collaborated with Florida’s J. Wakefield Brewing to produce a superb Rum Barrel Aged Porter. The Week of Logic preview of Mxyzptlk was so different and delicious, somehow the name just fit this beer.

Mxyzptlk
Superman would be proud…Mxyzptlk

Bottle Logic kept the Florida collaboration theme going by teaming up with 3 Sons Brewing to produce Fundamental Summation a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout. I swear that the preview was somehow better than the bottled version…I rated the WOL Preview at 4.75…maybe it just tasted so good after running around working…

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

Deschutes Brewery in collaboration with Hair of The Dog Brewing Company painted an almost perfect picture with their Collage #2 Barrel Aged Blended Ale, which featured a blend of beers from each brewery.

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

Dopplebock
I’ve said it before, if I have to drink a Lager, it had better be some type of bock and what better bock than a Dopplebock. And what better Dopplebock than a true German Dopplebock. Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan is the first German Brewery to grace the pages of Craft Beer Confessions. But, I have to celebrate craftsmanship and their Wehenstephaner Korbinian Dopplebock was textbook perfect and just a little bit above…

Dopplebock
Reinheitsgebot at it’s finest… Weihenstephaner

Mead/Braggots
Though mead is featured in one of my all time favorite movies, The 13th Warrrior, this warrior had to wait until 2017 to have such deliciousness grace his lips. I normally don’t like drinks that are sweet, but this Mead and Braggot were just too good not to give them props.

Another fellow attendee to the Week of Logic Wrap Party was Schramm’s Mead’s Blackberry Mead and I must admit that I personally snaked everybody and hit this bottle twice during our game of “No Skips”…

Bottle Logic Brewing themselves also offered a fantastic Braggot in collaboration with Superstition Meadery. The Week of Logic Preview of Iridium Flare was the first and only braggot I’ve ever imbibed, so I have nothing to measure it against, but if this is what Braggots are like, sign me up…

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

IPAs
As IPAs and their derivatives were my most drank styles of 2017, it makes sense that they would hold a disproportional amount of spaces on each of my lists; and this list is no different…

While I’m not opposed to Session IPAs, few of them can hold up to my flavor standards. But the award winning Nose Candy from Noble Ale Works is a wake up call for the nostrils and the palate. I swear I rated this beer last year, but the overlords at Untappd said no, so here it is on this year’s near perfect list…

If I could drink only one beer style for the rest of existence, it would be the Black IPA, and this year Bottle Logic Brewing’s Circadian Rhythm hit all my harmonic sweet spots. I really think that only a different or tweaked hop profile could improve this beer. It was so dark and delicious…

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

Speaking of dark and delicious how about triplicious? That’s just what Black Market Brewing Co.’s Black Belt Triple IPA was. I would think it’s impossible to balance this beast enough to be a perfect 5, but damn did this Temecula outfit come close…Superb.

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

In the inundated realm of IPAs, it’s so hard to stand out and make a name for yourself these days, but El Segundo Brewing Company continued to dominate the SoCal IPA scene. Their Bursted Series: Nelson Sauvin IPA was a terrific Single Hop brew that left folks wanting to sample the entire series.

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

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

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

And in an unexpected twist a North Carolina brewery delivered a near perfect West Coast IPA. Wilmington’s New Anthem Beer Project with their New Jack IPA solidified the myth that there is something in the water in southern North Carolina…

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

As the “Hazy” IPA style continued to gain momentum this year, West Coast breweries continued to perfect it. And OC breweries were among some of the quickest to adapt to the style. Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing had some solid offerings in their Konami Code Hazy IPA Series and DOWN DOWN was a standout amongst the group.

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

Meanwhile, Orange’s Green Cheek Beer Company experimented with and near perfected the style in months. No Complaints, no that’s the beer’s name, but no complaints on this Hazy IPA here, well, almost none, but I respect experimentation…

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

If you truly know me, you know that I truly love Double IPAs. With so many examples to choose from, it’s quite amazing that these four stood out amongst the masses, but nevertheless, they did.

New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing Company delivered one of the most original and most delicious DIPAs of the year. Their Most Important Meal Hazy Breakfast DIPA  brewed in collaboration with TOCA Coffee,  had me asking what the fuck is a Breakfast DIPA. But let me tell you that after I drank it, I was asking where the hell can I get more Breakfast DIPAs? Like seriously, I need one for tomorrow and Tuesday, and…

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

San Diego’s Modern Times Beer laid an almost perfect Jurassic egg with their Dinosaur World Hazy DIPA. And though I missed cans, I drank it on draft and can only imagine how it morphed with age…

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

Orange County Haze Masters, Noble Ale Works further solidified their role with Drops of Jupiter a Hazy DIPA that I had the pleasure of serving at their Anniversary Party. This beer even got a canning run, though it was still highly underrated…

And capping the list, Green Cheek Beer Company also dabbled in near perfect Hazy DIPAs with their The Other Brian which should have been canned, but I’ll take the crowler…

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

In the end, these 27 beers would make any self respecting beer drinker happy and should be on your wishlist if you truly love delicious craft beers.  These beers run the gambit of flavors and offer an excellent jumping off point for the wannabe craft beer lover.

Go forth and find these beers.  And if you stumble upon one you really like, drop me a line, let me know…

I pray that your 2018 overflows with near-perfect craft beers.

Peace, Love, Beer

All photos by: BrewFiend