On a recent visit to Brouwerij West in San Pedro, I overheard some fellow beer drinkers discussing beer names. Yes, I was totally dipping, but that’s just my nature…I like to talk to people. My fellow drinkers were discussing the name of “Dig My Earth” a delicious Hazy DIPA that is a one of BW’s core offerings. Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower was playing over the speakers and the girl goes: “Dig My Earth! That’s where that name is from…This Song!” She called over the beertender who confirmed the fact and was like: “I just found out too!” The 4 of us just sat there in amazement and I quickly started perusing their taplist for other Lyric inspired beer names. I quickly found one, Rabid Tooth, an Unfiltered West Coast IPA. “Meat Puppets!” I exclaimed. You might know “Lake of Fire” as a Nirvana song, but they covered it…”I knew a lady, lived in Duluth, bit my dog with a Rabid Tooth…” While all of their beers are not inspired by song lyrics, it’s pretty cool that some are. I for one am not a fan of play on word beer names…enough already! Come up with something more original or thought out…I’m particularly fond of beer names that most people cannot pronounce.
While at Unsung Brewing recently, I got a laugh out of their Nitro Stout called The Shenaniganizer. So many people couldn’t pronounce it that they labeled it “The Shen”…
Do you have a favorite beer name or brewery with great beer names?
Do you believe in naming a beer before it’s brewed or after it’s taste tested?
I personally think naming after the fact is the best way to do a beer justice…
If you’re a Craft Beer Lover, chances are that you’ve laid awake some nights thinking about, dreaming about or even compiling lists of must visit breweries… And, if you are a true Beer Connoisseur, I’m almost certain that a certain brewery in Santa Rosa, California is on your list.
When you live in California, you are essentially surrounded on all sides by fantastic breweries. But given the sheer size of the state, you are bound to be hundreds of miles away from at least some of the dream spots on your hitlist…
Case in point for me, Russian River Brewing Company, home of Pliny the Elder. While Pliny is not my favorite Double IPA, I do pay homage to its exquisiteness. They’re aren’t many other DIPAs out there that can fool you into thinking you’re drinking an IPA…And for this reason alone, I’ve wanted to visit for quite a few years. While I enjoy their Sour Beers as well, there’s nothing quite like a Hoppy IPA or Pale Ale to float my boat. While my favorite beer of this visit was Happy Hops IPA, I was pleasantly surprised by their 3.75% O.V.L. Stout that packs so much flavor into what is essentially water…
So what is it that made me finally pull the trigger on a 500 Mile car ride? Nothing. Nothing other than a desire to move and go somewhere… Given that Russian River occupies the old New Albion Brewery, the space is essentially Mecca for true Craft Beer Lovers. So maybe, she just called to me long enough that I finally gave in…
Whatever the reason, I’m glad I made the trek. There is no better road trip than an unplanned, unregulated, untimed one… when you start with stress free, you end with stress free; and if your final destination is Russian River Brewing Company, your journey is sure to end in a smile.
It’s funny how quickly people you know ask you for your Venmo Handle when they realize where you are, but that’s another beautiful piece of what it means to be a Craft Beer Lover. The Community and Camaraderie that flow from this delicious libation have created some of the happiest moments in my recent memory.
With that thought in mind, a toast, to Vinnie and all the good folks at Russian River, for giving us something to write home about…
If you’re near Santa Rosa, or far and just wishing you could go, do yourself a favor and get down to 4th street…food’s fresh and beer is waiting…
Some of my most favorite brewery detours seem to materialize out of thin air… I wake up with a clean slate and think to myself, how can I make today Awesome?!
As my summer of phun draws to an end, I’ve been digging deep and trying to squeeze every last drop out of my recent salvation from a life I despised. And this morning, was no different. While scrolling through my IG feed post-workout, I double tapped yet another pic featuring Electric Brewing Company’s Ohno Kenzo Hazy DIPA.
To date, my only experience has been with Electric’s Uber Everywhere Hazy IPA, a collaboration with Track 7 Brewing, that was easily one of my favorite beers of 2017…
While Electric has released a slew of highly sought after hazies since then, i’ve struck out every time I’ve tried to acquire cans within the confines of Orange County…
With that thought in mind, this morning I consulted the Oracle at Waze and, after discovering I could be at the tasting room in under an hour, I set out post haste for Murrieta…Where? Trust me, if you’ve never been and love beer, you should just make the trip…If you’ve heard of Temecula, it’s basically, no literally across the street…
Upon arriving at the brewery I was greeted with the most magnificent smell of breakfast cereal…my favorite smell… (these guys are working on a Sunday = Dedication = +). I quickly checked out the To Go Fridge and realized I’d struck out on cans again…but, guess what? These guys offer crowlers of even their newest release!
With a new found enthusiasm I asked the Beertender for Tasters of all their IPAs, of course…When he pulled out the awesomely customized flight holder, I realized I had two more options, so I opted for a Pale Ale and Stout…little did I realize the “beertender” serving me was the Brewer 😱
The first beer of my flight, a Pale Ale was extremely delicious, it gave me high hopes for the rest of the beers…Upon sampling the 5 beers, I calculated Electric’s average beer score as 4.45 (Out of 5).
Conclusion, this is a MUST STOP brewery for any true Craft Beer Lover. Not for Juice Bros. or Pastry Hoes, but beer connoisseurs…
So glad that once again, I woke up and just decided to go wherever the universe led me. It’s no coincidence that the world is full of energy and the world is electricity and Electric Brewing Co. is killing it…
Hard-work, dedication and humbleness prevails every time!
(I sat near the exit and listened and watched as every patron was thanked by Justin, the Owner/Head Brewer as they left…classy.)
If you sit at the bar on a Sunday afternoon, aside from being able to talk with the lovely beertenders Sally & Roxanne, you may get a lap petting Session from Pig the Dachshund…her dad works at the brewery and she’s super friendly if she likes you…
One thing 2017 was for me, was full of delicious Craft Beer…And, while I drank many a decent beer, these 99 beers were just a step above the average. For me, I’m not satisfied unless I’ve drank a beer that I would rate as a 4. And, as I’ve said before, if a brewery isn’t consistently putting out 4s, they should do the world a favor and close their doors…
What follows are 99 beers that received a rating of 4.25 on Untappd. These beers were just a cut above the masses and in the overcrowded world that Craft Beer has become, that’s saying something. Each of these beers had something about them that made them stand out just a bit amongst their peers.
These beers can be broken down into 6 general categories: Barrel Aged Beer, Stouts, Porters, Tart/Sours, Pale Ales and IPAs. These categories are further broken down below. Without further adieu, I present to you 99 bottles of beer that should not be left on the wall…
Barrel Aged Beer
Something special happens to a delicious beer when it’s aged in a barrel. Whether it’s a Wine barrel, Rum barrel or Bourbon Barrel the magnificent flavors that impart themselves into the beer are often times otherworldly…While I generally stray away from spirits, I actually run towards Barrel Aged Beers. This year, these 10 barrel aged beauties were just a cut above their competition. Some notable entrants are the Blackberry Sour that Aliso Viejo’s Stadium Brewing Company previewed at this year’s Sabroso Fest; Royal by Claremont Craft Ales (which I still see on shelves…grab it…age it…enjoy…you’re welcome); and Tustin Brewing Company continuing to master barrel aging with their delicious Kentucky Hug. Below is a further breakdown of the Barrel Aged category along with the beer/brewery.
Fundamental Observation (WOL Preview) by Bottle Logic Brewing
Number Crunch by Bottle Logic Brewing
Sumi Ink by Grimm Artisanal Ales
Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
Fydor’s Classic (2014) by Stone Brewing
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) by Founders Brewing Co.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Mint Mocha Stout
Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Mocha Mint (2017)
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Royal by Claremont Craft Ales
Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine
Sucaba by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
While I’m not a believer in Stout Weather, I am a believer in imbibing delicious stouts whenever and wherever I can get my hands on them. Though I find all manner of stouts delicious, I would have to say that Coffee Stouts are my favorite. Throw in an Imperial moniker and I’m in… Some notable entries on this list are the 2017 GABF Gold Medal winning Wall of Sound by Anaheim’s Stereo Brewing Company (the best beer they make…); Grandpappy Imperial Stout from San Juan Capistrano’s Docent Brewing (these guys should be on your must visit list…); and Imagination Land a Golden Milkstout from Mother Earth Brew Co. (reminiscent of Naughty Sauce).
Below is further breakdown of the category along with the beer/brewery.
City of the Dead Export Coffeee Stout by Modern Times Beer
Wall of Sound Oatmeal Stout by Stereo Brewing Company (GABF Gold Medal Winner)*
Get More Likes (with Kinsmen Brewing) by Kent Falls Brewing Co.
Grandpappy by Docent Brewing
Viva La Beaver! Horchata Milkstout by Belching Beaver Brewery
Imagination Land Golden Milkstout by Mother Earth Brew Co.
Imperial Coffee Stouts
Son of a Baptist by Epic Brewing Co.
Sump Coffee Stout by Perennial Artisan Ales
Tovarish RIS (Burundi) by Beachwood Brewing
You can rest assured that if I love Stouts, their progenitor the Porter style is going to find it’s way onto my list. Notable entries include Tustin Brewing’s Blimp Hangar Porter, which just seems to keep getting better; and a super impressive offering from South of the border from Cervejaria Dogma. Their Imperial Porter was damn near IMPERIAL. Below is a breakdown of the category and the beer/brewery.
Blimp Hangar Porter by Tustin Brewing Co.
Spectral Beast by Relic Brewing Co.
Modern Dogma by Cervejaria Dogma
I have to admit that in an effort to make this nice and neat, I kinda invented a category…None of these beers is a true sour, but their taste/flavor profiles are similar…think of this as a tart beer list with a Belgian thrown in… Some notable beers on this list were Beachwood Blendery’s 3.3e4 from their Propagation Series (someone brought this to the Week of Logic Wrap Party and it stood out to me in an epic game of “No Skips”); and Troglodyte by Anaheim’s Unsung Brewing Co. My first Grisette and man, what a delicious ultra light brew. Below is a further breakdown of the category and the beer/brewery.
Propagation Series No. 3.3e4 by Beachwood Blendery
Guava in Berlin! By Green Cheek Beer Company
Troglodyte by Unsung Brewing Co.
Tart Wheat Ale
Hostile Intent by Bottle Logic Brewing
Seems to me like it’s been a while since anybody brewed a worthwhile Pale Ale…with their hoppy brother dominating the beer world, this relaxing/refreshing style has taken a back seat. But luckily 2017 changed that. Not sure if it was me constantly speaking forth the reemergence of the style into the universe or if brewers just got nostalgic, but either way there were definitely some standouts in both the traditional and hazy iteration of the style. Some notable entries are Field to Ferment a Centennial wet/fresh hopped pale from Seattle’s Fremont Brewing that graced SoCal with distribution this year and Tired Hands Brewing Company in general (they were involved with two Hazies that made this list). Below is a further breakdown of the category and the beer/brewery.
Citra Happy by Artifex Brewing Company
Dymaxion by Modern Times Beer
Street 3, Block 2 by Beachwood Brewing
Field to Ferment (Centennial) by Fremont Brewing
Shire –Pale New Zealand Biter by Pure Project Brewing
Hazy Pale Ales
Jean Hands (with Tired Hands Brewing Company) by Monkish Brewing Co.
Curve My Flight by Green Cheek Beer Company
Intensely Juicy, Dank, Beautiful (Copy & Paste) (with Hill Farmstead Brewery) by Tired Hands Brewing Company
And now, we come to the payoff! Any best of beers list created by me is more than likely going to be dominated by the IPA category and once again, this list is no exception. With everyone and their grandmother brewing this style it takes a lot to stand out. Every beer listed below stood out to me above the masses. While taste is relative, I’m certain that if you love real IPAs, you want to seek out the beers on this list…
Some notes from the list below:
1) 10 First try breweries made this list (Had my first beer from them in 2017)
2) I’m currently labeling Noble Ale Works the “Haze King” of Orange County. (But look out as Evan and Unsung on your tail…)
3) Sparks, Nevada’s Revision Brewing Company should be on your MUST TRY list.
4) My Top 10 Breweries are all over this list…3 of which just cracked my top 10 this year (Pure, Green Cheek, Fieldwork)…
Reckoner by Homage Brewing
Hexagonal IPA by Bottle Logic Brewing
Old Town IPA by Tustin Brewing Company
Lush IPA by Fremont Brewing
Coffee & Milk by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Juicy Secret by New Glory Craft Brewery
Hopful 7 by Beachwood Brewing
Can-a-Bliss (a joint effort with Other Half Brewing Company) by Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Melvin IPA by Melvin Brewing
Gimme by Docent Brewing
Sidekicks (with Alvarado Street Brewery) by El Segundo Brewing Company
Clear AF by El Segundo Brewing Company
DIPAs (Double IPAs)
Blah Blah Blah IPA by 21st Amendment Brewery
Super Beer Bros – Level 1 (with Grains of Wrath Brewing) by El Segundo Brewing Company
Leo v. Ursus: Fortem by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Lupine by Pipeworks Brewing Company
Greenshift by Beachwood Brewing
Tell Shaky and Boxcar Joe DDH IIPA by SingleCut Beersmiths
Power Glove (with Noble Ale Works) by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Left Eye, Right Eye by Track 7 Brewing Company
Tetra City by Modern Times Beer
PUNCH-OUT!! (with Fieldwork Brewing Company) by Noble Ale Works
Dank Energy by Beachwood Brewing
Leo v. Ursus: Inferos by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
TIPA (Triple IPAs)
Tundra by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Golden Pineapple by Modern Times Beer
Centaur Gardens by Modern Times Beer
Goblin Rock by Modern Times Beer
Crowler Phil by Noble Ale Works
Good Googly Moogly by Noble Ale Works
I Edited It by Noble Ale Works
Countout! by Noble Ale Works
Taking It To The Extreme by Noble Ale Works
UP UP: Konami Code by Bottle Logic Brewing
LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT: Konami Code by Bottle Logic Brewing
B A: Konami Code by Bottle Logic Brewing
Double Dragon by Bottle Logic Brewing
Sink or Swim by Green Cheek Beer Company
Soft Skin by Green Cheek Beer Company
A Salute To Classic Beers (with Cellarmaker Brewing Company) by Green Cheek Beer Company
Supercollider by Brouwerij West
Picnic Lightning by Brouwerij West
Battle-Scarred Shogun by Monkish Brewing Co.
Galaxy Juice by Fieldwork Brewing Company
Snacktime (with Finback Brewing) by Civil Society Brewing
90s R&B by Mumford Brewing
Cold Side by Magnify Brewing Company
28 Haze Later… by Beachwood Brewing
Hop Swingers (with Burgeon Beer Company) by Artifex Brewing Company
Master Shredder by The Veil Brewing Co.
Altered Dankopotamus by Hog Dogma Brewing Co.
DDH Rinse/Repeat (with Motueka and Wakatu) by Westbrook Brewing Co.
Broken Filter (with Beachwood Brewing) by AleSmith Brewing Company
Planet Lovetron by Revision Brewing Company
Galaxy Sauce by Fieldwork Brewing Company
East Coast Bias by HenHouse Brewing Company
Men at Murk (with Highland Park Brewery & Alvarado Street Brewery) by Noble Ale Works
Cool Runoffs by Alvarado Street Brewery
Crucial Taunt by The Veil Brewing Co.
The Bruff by Revision Brewing Company
Xylophone Tones by Monkish Brewing Co.
Foggy Window by Monkish Brewing Co.
CANniversary by Noble Ale Works
CANniversary (with peaches) by Noble Ale Works* (this beer improved to near perfection with the last can…)
And there you have it folks, 99 beers from 2017 that shouldn’t be left on the wall but should be taken down and enjoyed ; share them if you have to…
I hope that your 2018 overflows with delicious, soul satisfying Craft Beer!
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”.
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…
On Saturday, February 20, 2016, Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works turned 5 years old. And, like the gracious, self-sacrificing folks they are, they decided to throw a party, for us their craft beer lovin’ devotees. Thanks to their graciousness, attendees were allowed to bask in the glory of their labors to the tune of some 30-plus beers.
While the day showcased their classics and featured almost every iteration of brew they’ve recently brought us, they also brought out some “big guns” like their Putin put in Barrels, an intensely delicious high ABV Barrel Aged beauty (that I had the pleasure of serving Anniversary attendees all day long. Sorry, if some of them pours of the Putin were heavy…). They even brought out some “beer cocktails” that were a fan favorite with “non-beer drinkers” (Say What?!).
Anniversary attendees were also treated to live music courtesy of some of SoCal’s best brewery house bands. (Yes, that’s an actual thing, Craft Brewers are creative as hell and need to have many outlets…). Hearing Evan and Co. put some interesting spins on hip-hop classics has become a favorite past time of mine.
The event even featured some of OC’s premier Food Trucks like Hobo Pizza, Flipmasters and Rolling Sushi Van.
While the 4 hour time limit may seem a bit stringent, the ease with which the lines flow at this event means you never have to wait in line longer than a few minutes and if you are respectful, friendly and talkative, well, servers could be coaxed into topping you off…
This was my second year attending the event, as a Volunteer. So while I didn’t get to partake of every beer there was to offer, I did get to enjoy a day of doling out liquid bliss to the craft beer loving masses and I can’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday. While my goal in volunteering was not to receive anything in return; trust that Noble Ale Works went out of their way to thank me and everyone else who took time to serve.
What happens in Noble’s addition stays in Noble’s addition, but let’s just say, they provided Volunteers with a fun filled night of beer and shenanigans. (If it’s possible to make out with a beer, I believe that me and Nelson Triple Yum Yum did…) Thanks to all the Breweries that pitched in to make the after party a memorable night…for some of us…
If you were lucky enough to attend the event, let me know what your favorite beer of the day was, I’m curious. And if you did not go, start planning for next year. In fact, just head down to Noble’s Tasting Room now, because they still have a ton of great beer from their Anniversary on tap. Bean Bump Anyone?
Happy New Year! Hoppy New Year! & Happy New Beers! To all my fellow craft beer lovers the world over.
Here at Craft Beer Confessions, we, like everyone else in the world, tried to set New Years Resolutions and commit to being blah, blah, blah… but the truth of the matter is that we and by we I mean I, I’ve spent much of the new year in the same manner in which I ended last year. That is to say that I’ve been engaged in a pursuit of fantastically crafted and wonderfully delicious craft beer.
While last year brought a lot of changes to the craft beer scene, the most ominous being the rise of “Corpacraft*” (*another article on this coming very soon…); it also afforded the “Craft Beer Community” the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what “craft beer” means to us and whether or not where it comes from or how it gets there is important to us. For some beer drinkers, questions like this are irrelevant as the real question is “how good is what’s currently in my glass?”. But for some of us, the “Craft Beer Purists” who, what, how and why matters. Needless to say that here at CBC, we will only be discussing beers from “respectable*” craft beer brewers not associated with “big beer”. While most of the beer discussed herein is available specifically in or around Orange County, California, there’s a chance you may be able to find some of these beers outside of California.
Those points aside, this first post of 2016 is a psuedo-review of the first 25 beers of 2016. (As an aside, this list shows me it’s time to ease back a little…slow down son!). In this psuedo-review I thought I would focus on the 12 beers that stood out and earned a rating higher than 4 on my 5 point Untappd inspired rating scale. When determining the rating for a beer, I measure it against all other beers of the style that I’ve encountered and not against all beers in general, how drull. But before I go into detail on the best of 2016, so far, here are the brews that did not earn this distinction by style and rating.
Let It Go from Stone Brewing 4
Buoy 1 from Stone Brewing 4
IPA from Stone Brewing 4
Anthia from Unsung Brewing 4
BILF from Massively Miniscule Brewing 4 (*homebrew)
Pliny the Elder from Russian River (almost a year old, like Barleywine) 4
Poseidon from TAPS Fish House and Brewery 4
Imperial Red IPA
Double Red IPA – Winter Seasonal from AleSmith Brewing 4
Rubidium from Bottle Logic Brewing 4
Imperial Red Ale
Toaster Pastry from 21st Amendment Brewery 3.75
American Brown Ale
Hazelnut Brown Nectar from Rogue Ales & Spirits 4
Space Bar Friends from Stone Brewing 4
Tart Red Ale
Money on the Wood from Noble Ale Works 4
As you may notice, the majority of the beers listed above earned a 4 on scale of 5. In other words, these are all, for the most part, delicious beers that I would gladly imbibe again, but it’s the above 4 beers that are what I consider standouts and think everyone should at least try and come to their own conclusion.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers
Darkstar November (Russian Imperial Stout) from Bottle Logic Brewing 5
Shot in the Dark (Imperial Porter) from Tustin Brewing Co. 4.25
When it comes to BBA beers, it’s all about the barrels and for my money, there is nothing better than Buffalo Trace to lend a helping heap of wood to whatever variant of craft beer goodness is placed inside. If you like BBAs, I urge you to try these beers. As Tustin does not bottle, you will have to head right to the source.
Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing Co. 5
Monsters’ Park from Modern Times Beer 4.75
If I can’t have a BBA, an Imperial Stout is the next best thing. Robust, chocolatey, flavorful describe these two offerings perfectly. If you are looking to get there quickly, either of these bad boys will do it Monsters’ Park will only have variants bottled this year, so if you see any of the original around, grab them.
Xocoveza from Stone Brewing Co. 5
I cant get enough of this beer. I see it, I buy it.
American Wild Ale
Agrestic from Firestone Walker Brewing 5
To think this beer started out as DBA is absolutely mind blowing the brewmeisters and blenders at Barrel Works are Magicians.
English Brown Ale
Nut Brown Ale from AleSmith Brewing 4.5
Browns are not typically my style, but i have to pay homage to craftsmanship and as far as browns go, this is probably the best I’ve tried.
Triple IPA (TIPA)
Do you smell what the Waka’s cooking? from Noble Ale Works 4.5
Truism: Noble knows IPAs. Read that as Noble knows DIPAs, Noble knows TIPAs too.
This drinks like a session and its over 10% ABV, too smooth.
Double IPA (DIPA)
Ruination 2.0 from Stone Brewing Co. 4.5
Classics never die, they just sometimes get revamped and improved upon. This one is always an enjoyable drinking experience.
Recursion 7.0 from Bottle Logic Brewing 4.75
IPA from AleSmith Brewing 4.5
IPA from TAPS Fish House and Brewery 4.25
IPAs will always hold a special place in my belly I LOVE HOPS!
While there are numerous delicious IPAs available, these are three of the best I’ve aleady had multiple times this year.
Recursion, now on its 7th iteration is the epitome of a West Coast IPA and can currently be found in bottles around The OC. AleSmith’s IPA is a classic example of West Coast craft that is often overlooked due to its minimalist packaging, don’t sleep on it. Though TAPS has plans to bottle soon, you will have to go to the source(s) for now. Luckily you have 3 options.
Needless to say we here at CBC started off 2016 with a balls to the walls mentality with no signs of slowing down. To think that it’s only the 3rd week of January and we’ve already hit 12 standouts bodes well for the State of Craft Beer in America. What “standout” beers have you drank so far this year? If you haven’t had any yet, hopefully you can use this as a launching pad…
As with everything else, I hate conformity when it comes to beer drinking. But the fact of the matter is that humans are creatures of habit and most creatures tend to “follow the crowd”. It’s no different with breweries and if you think about it, from a purely scientific perspective, it makes sense to have different beers at different times of the year. Having grown up in a highly-advanced society, I’ve simply become accustomed to getting/having what I want, when I want it…
So, if I demand a fantastic DIPA in January, May, September or December, I can usually have it. But, “variety is the spice of life” as they say and so it is with beer drinking. You need to spice it up every once in a while in order to keep your thirst growing. So while I may not want to conform, I must say that I am a huge fan of the fantastic beers that the “winter” months bring us.
While CBC is not about “reviewing” beers, it is about sharing fantastic tasting experiences with interested or like-minded folks and so this post is designed to share some of the amazing non-IPAs currently available from respectable “craft beer” outfits.
If you have a favorite brew from a “craft brewery” (I’m sure BC is fantastic, but I only drink non-big beer affiliated craft) that you think folks should try, please let us know.
Here are some of the fantastic offerings of the season that are available locally in Southern California, the OC specifically.
While the name may be a mouthful, the beer is 100% (perciento), whatever you want to call it, it is: L-E-G-I-T.
This “beer” registers 110 on any self-respecting “beer connoisseur’s” list. Aside from being a delicious, easy drinker it is a fantastic example of the marvelous things going on in American Craft Beer. This Stout is sure to turn the staunchest craft opponent into a craft padawan in the flick of a wrist… Think Abuelita’s Hot Chocolate in alchol form and you almost have the Winter deliciousness that is Stone’s Xocoveza. DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS BEER!
🍀, Yup, Top-o-the-mornin’ to you my Blarney lovin’ bastards! Oskar has outdone himself with this fantastic take on the Coconut Porter. This is one delicious, monstorously coconut brew that simply must be followed up by another. ‘Tis a shame they only come in 4-packs, but if you see one, grab it before the fella next to you and if you don’t, then—fight him for it. Seriously, a must try for any Coconut lover.
This is one local, winter warmer that I look forward to every year. Having lived in both the OC and IE, it’s nice to be able to have a little taste of IE Winter anywhere in SoCal. This hearty, wintery ale has a hint of San Bernardino Mountain’s Spruce Tips combined with a dash of Cinnamon and some Maple Syrup to produce a uniquely Hangar 24 Winter Warmer. Nothing like a taste of your Locale to get you feeling warm, toasty and at home. I wish this was a 4-pack like Hullabaloo…seriously though, if you see either of these offerings from Hangar, pick them up!
This is one rich, flavorful, but boozy Stout I pick up every year. Found it this year at Costco for under $7 and I never pass on something like that…sorry Yobo…
This year’s batch is a little more boozy and carbonated than last years, I’d consider this a bottle share beer as it seems to hold more than the 10% ABV listed on the label. Maybe you sit on this for a few months and it mellows a bit? For $6 or $7 it’s worth a shot…
This was BFBC’s First Anniversary Brew and my oh my, what a way to say Happy Anniversary. Another excellent edition to the local, yearly “Stout” scene. Had this on tap at the release in October and had a subsequent bottle which was a nicely executed, textbook example of a RIS, with that added Bourbon Flavor. If you can still find one, pick it up and sit on it until next Xmas, it should be smooth as silk by then…
One of the smoothest, easiest drinking Bourbon influenced beers on the market. I can’t speak to BC as I only drink craft beer, but this beer is a perfect gateway to enjoying the BBA movement. if you come across any year of this beer, BUY IT!
The brew that enlightened me to the BBA movement, I have enjoyed this beer and faithfully bought at least one bottle, usually 3 or more, every year since 2012. If you want 1 bottle of beer to help you ring in the New Year, this is that beer. 2014’s release weighed in at over 18% ABV. 2015’s is a much lighter 13% ABV but either way any year of this beer is a fantastic beer experience that will push the envelope of what you or your non-beer drinking friends consider beer. Brewed with hints of Molasses, this is a sweet, sipper of a brew that if drank solo and with a bottle topper, can last you several hours…(obviously, i’ve been there and done that, well, one year…)
If you are looking for a beer that will win over liquour drinkers, this may very well be that beer. Hints of Chocolate and dark coffee flavors take a back seat to that Bourbon goodness. At $20 a bottle, this is not your every day beer, but it’s the perfect beer for a Special Occassion or a day of reflection, I’m still sitting on 2 bottles from 2014 and just picked up my 2015 bottles. (I liked last year’s more, but this years is still respectable, if, by some off chance, you come across the Royale variant, spend up to $100 for the bottle. You will not be disappointed…)
So there you have it folks, a veritable cornicopia of delicious “winter” brews that are sure to cure your Holiday thirst…
Each of these beers was purchased locally in or around Anaheim, California. Hopefully you can enjoy some of these tasty treats this Holiday Season. If you find something you like as a result of this post, please CONFESS here.