Through the Rows and Over the Hills…A Northern Journey…

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…

Though RRBC offers the largest flight in the world, I settled on a sensible flight…

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…

✌🏽❤️🍻

BrewFiend

And, the world is full of energy…

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).

Always a good sign when a brewery is working on a Sunday…My delicious flight!

 

Conclusion, this is a MUST STOP brewery for any true Craft Beer Lover. Not for Juice Bros. or Pastry Hoes, but beer connoisseurs…

The Devil is in the details…Awesome Flight Boards, ⚡️

 

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.)

Notes:

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…

Pura Birra

Today, I woke up and decided it had been far too long since I visited Pure Project Brewing in Miramar, CA. Seeing as I could remedy this situation in under two hours and currently having nothing else to do, I decided to proceed southward stat.

In an hour and a half, I removed myself from the confines of Orange County and found myself smack dab in front of one of my favorite breweries in the world!

While everything Pure puts out is a step above the competition, the board today was filled with IPAs. (Though it’s Haze heavy, the West Coasts are not to be slept on.) If you have enough time and a designated driver or a hotel room a Lyft drive away, I’d highly recommend you try every single last beer on the menu! Trust me, I’m a professional. You will not be disappointed.

As I had to return to the OC, I decided on one flight and a growler to go. My flight, which I aptly named Keep Hops Alive, consisted of the following:

Desert Trip – West Coast IPA brewed in collaboration with Mumford Brewing.

This beer was clean, light and delicious! The Southern Hemisphere hops brought this beer in at 4.25/5

Murk IPA – Murky/Hazy with Mosaic, Denali and some Motueka that really shined through. 4.25/5

Hanging Gardens – Murky/Hazy brewed in collaboration with Temescal Brewing out of Oakland. This beer was light, easy drinking and delicious. 4.25/5

Sign of the Times – Murky/Hazy DIPA with Citra and Galaxy hops. This beer was oddly malty/sweet and my least favorite of the flight. 4/5

Murkshake – Murky/Hazy TIPA with Organic Strawberries and Vanilla Beans. This beer reminded me of Strawberry Bijou from Great Notion and Mikerphone and was FANTASTIC! 4.75/5 (Flight Standout)*

Guess which beer I got a growler fill of…

In short, Pure Project Brewing should be on every Craft Beer Lover’s shortlist!

I only wish I lived closer as I would be there everyday…

What’s your favorite Pure Project Beer? What’s the farthest you’ve ever driven for Beer?


If Pure is within your driving range, get here NOW!

I hope your Spring has been full of delicious Craft Beer, and if not, Get on it!

Happy Hunting! Prost!

✌🏽❤️🍻

BrewFiend

Sometimes, you just need to Yeti…

In today’s “craft beer” scene a large group of “beer drinkers” have begun flocking towards “new” and “untested” offerings at the expense of perfected and dialed-in “flagship” beers. A walk down the aisle at any “in the know” liquor store or liquor chain, quickly reveals a dizzying bevy of beer offerings that is enough to leave even the seasoned connoisseur feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. A large reason for this is craft brewer’s attempts to find the newest and latest taste profile that aligns with the palate of folks who are looking for a quick fix of exsclusivity rather than a liquid piece of art. I for one, am of the opinion that while “new” is good, “dialed-in” is better. Unfortunately, in our rush to discover, we often forget to remember, and as a result miss out on the dependability that the “old” has to offer. I have to admit that even I have found myself caught up in the hysteria at times, but thankfully I’m always prompted to take a step back. 

I recently was in the mood for a delicious Stout and perusing the aisles, at my local chain store, I made eye contact with an old friend. 

“You believe!” He said to me. “We’ve sat and pondered existence, not just mine, but yours too, plenty a time”. 

“We have.” I retorted. 

And proceeded to take him from his place on the shelf.  Though it had been quite some time since we’d last spoke, we picked up right where we left off. 

And I swear that he’d even gotten better. Or maybe, nostalgia just brings out the best in people…

[Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, was one of the first really fantastic stouts I tried while beginning my journey down the path of craft beer. So hoppy, toasty and delicious; I can best describe it as a Stout/IPA Hybrid. It’s just so thick, hearty and rounded. Great Divide has been doing it right for over two decades. And if you’re a self respecting beer drinker, but have never tried them, I’d recommend — everything. Go build yourself a sixer. You have to love a company whose slogan is “Great minds drink alike” and then backs it up with their offerings.] 

My experience reminded me that life isn’t always about passing fancies, and sometimes you have to remember what you forgot, because dependability is truly a virtue.

Now, I’m not advocating an end to new releases and experimentation,  But I just think that in our rush to emulate in order to innovate, we’re starting to lose some of the artisanship and craftsmanship that made us fall in love with “micro-brews” in the first place. 

I’m glad that I remembered what I hadn’t forgotten, but just hadn’t thought about in a while — sometimes, you just need to Yeti…

Hopefully’ craft beer lovers the world over don’t forget to drink the “classics”.

Hope your week is full of fantastic beer!

Until next time ✌🏽❤️🍻

– Brew Fiend

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.

2016: Excellent Brews in the rearview…

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

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

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

The 5s


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

Victim of a Bottle Share…No Evidence Exists…

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

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

(Sadly, no pic exists)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

All pics by: BrewFiend

Yeasties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Hazelus (The Bruery: Placentia, CA)

Above the Mean, far from Median, hardly the Mode…

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.

Session IPA

Let It Go from Stone Brewing 4

Pale Ale

Buoy 1 from Stone Brewing 4

IPA

IPA from Stone Brewing 4

Anthia from Unsung Brewing 4

BILF from Massively Miniscule Brewing 4 (*homebrew)

DIPA

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

Altbier

Space Bar Friends from Stone Brewing 4

Tart Red Ale

Money on the Wood from Noble Ale Works 4

Standouts

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.

Imperial Stouts

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.

Mocha Stout

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.

IPA

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.

Conclusion

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…

Until next time drink good beer, Craft Beer!

Peace, Love & Beer†!