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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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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…

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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.

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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

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Skillet Donut…DAMN!

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

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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,

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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.

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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

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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†!