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!