99 Bottles of Craft Beer on the Wall…

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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.

Barrel Aged Sour

  • Blackberry Sour by Stadium Brewing Company

Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts

Ground State
The 2017 Ground State featured Coldbot Coffee
  • Kentucky Hug by Tustin Brewing Company
  • Ground State (2017)  (with Coldbot Coffee) by Bottle Logic Brewing
  • 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
At this point I only buy Pre-POM douche Stone… Fydor’s Classic was a delicious 2014 treat…
  • 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
Simon Says: “Give my BBA Imperial Oatmeal Stout a try, you will not be disappointed…”
  • Royal by Claremont Craft Ales

Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine

  • Sucaba by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Stouts
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.

Stouts

  • City of the Dead Export Coffeee Stout by Modern Times Beer
  • Wall of Sound Oatmeal Stout by Stereo Brewing Company (GABF Gold Medal Winner)*

Imperial Stouts

Get More Likes
A delicious East Coast Collaboration from Kent Falls with Kinsmen Brewing…Get More Likes
  • Get More Likes (with Kinsmen Brewing) by Kent Falls Brewing Co.
  • Grandpappy by Docent Brewing

Milkstouts

  • 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

Porters
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.

Porters

  • Blimp Hangar Porter by Tustin Brewing Co.

Baltic Porter

Spectral Beast
A healthy, hearty dose of East Coast Love from Relic…
  • Spectral Beast by Relic Brewing Co.

Imperial Porter

  • Modern Dogma by Cervejaria Dogma

Tart/Sours
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.

Berliner Weisses

  • Propagation Series No. 3.3e4 by Beachwood Blendery
  • Guava in Berlin! By Green Cheek Beer Company

Grisette

  • Troglodyte by Unsung Brewing Co.

Tart Wheat Ale

  • Hostile Intent by Bottle Logic Brewing

Pale Ales
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.

Pale Ales

Field to Ferment
Field to Fremont? Field to Ferment? Either way, this was a lovely Centennial Fresh Hop Pale. Wish I would have tried the other 3 variants…
  • 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

JeanHands
When 2 “haze masters” collaborate you get something notable like JeanHands courtesy of Monkish and Tired Hands.
  • 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

IPAs

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)…

Brett IPA

  • Reckoner by Homage Brewing

IPAs

Lush
Welcome to Southern California Fremont Brewing. This can was so lovely, I almost didn’t use a glass…but, Beer Matters, so I did…
Coffee & Milk
Fieldwork Brewing quickly made their way onto my Top 10 List with such fantastic offerings as Coffee & Milk IPA. Trust me, it worked!
Juicy Secret
All the Juice, none of the haze…a lovely Juicy Secret from New Glory
  • 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)

Power Glove
A Brewmance between 2 of my favorite breweries…YES PLEASE! Noble Ale Works with Fieldwork Brewing Company
Greenshift
Beachwood Brewed GreenShift! So much dankness!
  • 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

Rye DIPA

  • Leo v. Ursus: Inferos by Firestone Walker Brewing Company

TIPA (Triple IPAs)

Tundra
I sure hope they used Cryo hops in this TIPA. If they didn’t I don’t really understand the name, but damn was Tundra delicious…got to enjoy it twice this year.
  • Tundra by Fieldwork Brewing Company

Hazy IPAs

Golden Pineapple
This Modern Times offering continued to get better with age…Golden Pineapple
img_0188
If only there were Vending Machines like this…Snacktime!
  • 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

Hazy DIPAs

Galaxy Sauce
So much Fieldwork this year, I was in HEAVEN or somewhere out in the Galaxy…
The Bruff
Nevada’s Revision Brewing quickly mastered the Haze…The Bruff was so smooth…
The Usual Suspects
1of these beers was perfect. 2 of these beers were OK. And 2 of them were a step above the norm. Crucial Taunt and Foggy Window may have come from different coasts, but both were elite Hazy DIPAs
  • 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.

Hazy TIPAs

CANniversary
Who brews a Hazy Triple IPA? Noble Ale Works, that’s who…This should be the standard of Triple Hazies…no booziness. It morphed to near perfection with my last can…
  • 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!

Peace, Love, Beer!

All Photos by: BrewFiend

 

Everyone’s Favorite Day: Home Brew Day…

If you’ve been a fan of craft beer long enough, chances are that you’ve taken a walk or at the very least a gander down the road of Home Brewing. Though it’s not for everyone, it certainly is fascinating to watch someone who really gets it.

Lucky for me, I have a friend who’s “home brewing” operation is not your run-of-the-mill, something you see every day sort of set up.  Like all masterful Brewers, Joe M., as he shall be called, built almost every piece of his set-up with his own two hands…from drilling into kettles, to crafting his own temperature gauge and pumping system, he dives in to any challenge that arises. And the end result is truly a glorious work to behold. Maybe it’s his German ancestry, or the fact that he’s an artist and a muscian, or maybe it’s just the fact that he’s a renaissance man…either way, I’m lucky to be in his company and to be able to learn the ways of the craft…

In our latest brewing adventure, Massively Minuscule Brewing, brewed up a variant of one of our flagship beers, Coal Miner’s Hands, a Robust Porter. (Think Chocolatey Goodness in beer form…)

But before we kicked the day off, we toasted to a great brew day! I was blessed with a bottle of Evil Twin & Trillum’s Stout baby: Dusk trill Dawn, from a friend out in New York and this was the perfect occasion to take down this beast. This lovely taste of coffee stout was exactly the little sip we needed to start the day off right.

share beer
Like any self-respecting brewing operation, we look for a little motivation in fantastic beer! Brew Day started with a share of Trillium & Evil Twin’s delicious Imperial Coffee Stout, Dusk Trill Dawn…
With the ceremonies out of the way, and the water all boiled and ready to go, we set our sights on dialing in the Robust Porter. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten giddy over science at work, but this process is something truly exciting to learn. So much knowledge to be gained…Here’s a look at the “recipe”.

Recipe
Preparation is the key to success…Head Brewer, Joe understands this and keeps everything on track…
The Mash Tun is where the magic really starts to happen. Here, Head Brewer, Joe M. checks the gauges to ensure a proper brew.

mash tun

Water is life and such a key component to the process, luckily we have some decent water in Tustin and a charcoal filter certainly helps…A look inside the Mash Tun:

Mash

kettle2
Looks like coffee…
If you’ve ever home brewed, you’ve heard the term “sparging”. The Sparge Arm is a key component of the brewing setup.

Sparge
Nothing like the Sparge, we just love saying that around these parts…SPARGE!
Litmus Test? Something like that. Again, science at work. Ph is important to ensure you get the result you anticipated.

ph
Is that the propa Ph? Precision is the key to great tasting home brew…
The third and final kettle, the boil kettle is where the mash meets the hops. Joe M. recently upgraded the brew rig with a hop filter and ever the perfectionist, created a filter for that filter…this was in hopes of eliminating a clogging issue. Though the new filter modification did not work as anticipated, it set the stage for more tinkering and perfecting. A home brewer’s work is never done…A look inside the Boil Kettle:

final kettle
A look into the final kettle…
hopfilter2
Something about all that stainless steel…beautiful. A full view of the newest addition to the brew rig. A hop filter with an inner filter.
hop filter
Necessity is the mother of invention, and experimentation leads to perfection…testing out a new hop filter…
Though brewing operations are full of lots of equipment and scientific type items, there should always be room for fun! A spectrometer is used to check your gravity levels in order to determine your beer’s ABV. But most folks just think it’s “neat” to look through, makes them seem scientific…

spectrometer
Massively Minuscule’s resident “crack-up” Hal checks out the flux-capacitor or something…Spectrometer silliness…
When all 3 kettles have completed their work, into the conical fermenter the luscious, aromatic liquid goes…it will be weeks before this concoction of water, barley, hops and yeast is ready to please palates.

Fermentor
And in to the fermenter this Robust Porter goes…
Even after the fermenter is hard at work there is still work to be done. Cleaning up and getting ready for the next brew day is the most important part of the day.

Luckily, MMB has it’s own resident “cleaner” who gets down on it until the job is done…

Cleaning Action
“The Cleaner”, Dana gets busy on cleaning out that mash, that and he took the spent grain home…reuse, recycle…
Clean
A brewing operation has so many variables. Cleaning up and preparing for the next brew day is the most important part of the day….
And once everything is nice and clean and put away…well, we enjoy some fruits of previous labors and anticipate the day when Coal Miner’s Hands Robust Porter hits the taps at West Coast Brewer…

Taps
Once Coal Miner’s Hands Robust Porter is complete, it will join the line up here at Massively Minuscule Brewing…Can’t wait!
Hopefully you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the joy of home brewing. On any scale, it is certainly an undertaking and something that requires passion and dedication to be done correctly. I only wish that I could share the fruits of Massively Minuscule Brewing with you…perhaps someday…Until then, keep brewing up and supporting deliciously crafted Craft Beer and Home Brew!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, Beer

Brew Fiend

All Pics by:BrewFiend

 

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

img_8299
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

img_8300
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

img_8301
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

img_8303
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.

img_8302
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

fullsizerender
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

img_8298
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

img_8292
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

img_8296
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.

Brimful of Craft Beer on the 4.5s

While some may think that rating a beer is arbitrary, I find that rating beers allows me to personalize and quantify my drinking experience. I have a fairly good ability to recall how a beer tastes or the feelings it evoked, but rating it allows me to measure it against the other beers of the style that I have tried. The beauty of drinking Craft Beer is that everything is relative. Everyone has flavors they do and don’t like. Something I find amazing may underwhelm or overwhelm someone else. What follows is an account of the 58 beers that landed right on my sweet spot…I find that most great beers I try are in the 4.25 to 4.5 range on my 5 point scale. But today, I am concerned with those beers that received a rating of 4.5 on my Untappd account (Brew_Fiend)

I’ve broken the beers up into categories:

The One-Offs: These are beers that are from various styles.  There were only 6 so this seemed like the best way to categorize them…anomalies…

Sours: The category name speaks for itself. Though I am not a huge fan of sours, I will always pay homage to something that tastes fantastic. The 3 sours that caught my tongue are well worth seeking out.

Barrel Aged Beers: This group contains beers that have been aged in Wine Barrels, Bourbon Barrels or a combination of both. Though truly an undertaking, this is one of my favorite styles. This year, 8 Beers were worthy of the close to perfect badge.

Stouts: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Stouts, Imperial Stouts and Specialty Stouts. Easily one of my favorite styles, I was lucky enough to try 7 supremely fantastic stouts this year.

Porters: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Porters and Imperial Porters. There were 3 stand up porters I tried this year that approached perfection.

IPAs: This grouping can be further sub-divided into IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Specialty IPAs. The Specialty IPA sub-category encompasses Session IPAs, Coffee IPAs and Double Black IPAs. Easily my favorite style of beer, there were 31 beers I tried this year that satisfied my Hop-thirst and had me craving more!

I wonder how many of these brews would be on your “Almost Perfect” List?

Hope your 2016 was filled with fantastic, real, independent craft beer! Looking forward to what America’s Craft Breweries have in store for us in 2017. Regardless of what your mood is going into 2017, be thankful that no matter what: We always have BEER!

Prost to a Blessed and Fruitful 2017! Happy New Year to You and Yours!

Peace, Love, Beer

Brew Fiend

All pics by: BrewFiend

The One-Offs

Wheat Ales, Brown Ales and German style beers are my least favorite.  While I don’t go out of my way to try them, I will at times dabble and on occasion, I find an excellently executed example of the style. Pale Ales are one of my favorite styles of beer, though I feel that it’s been a long time since anyone has really done the style justice…What follows are the “anomalies” that I imbibed this year. I will always give props to true craftsmanship.

Beer: Hell or High Watermelon
Style: Session Wheat Ale
ABV: 4.9%
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery

Beer: Nut Brown Ale
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 5%
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.

Beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Arrogant Brewing

Beer: Long Bocks on the Beach
Style: Dunkelweizen
ABV: 6.9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Corporate Ladder
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2%
Brewery: Civil Society Brewing

Beer: Jungle Boogie
Style: Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.4%
Brewery: Marz Community Brewing Co.

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Chicago’s Marz Community Brewing’s sensational Wheat Ale was made available to a wider audience this year thanks to Against the Grain Brewing running a canned edition.

Sours

Sours…I must say that this is a style that has grown on me over time. I drink a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar religiously every morning, so it was only a matter of time before I started down the path of the pucker…It takes a lot for me to hoot and holler about a Sour. These are 3 that should be on your “DO TRY” List. Trust me.

Beer: Raspberry Sour
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.

Beer: Tart of Darkness (2016)
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Bruery Terreaux

Bruery Terreaux
The recently opened Bruery Terreaux, a showcase for The Bruery’s Wild Ales is a six minute walk from my house…somewhere in those barrels is next year’s TOD!
Beer: Cuddlebug
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing


Barrel Aged

I don’t like Hard Alcohol, but…I am a sucker for anything Bourbon Barrel Aged and apparently Wine Barrel Aged and…basically any Barrel Aged is A-OK with me!  While this list is Stout heavy, the other beers on this list are no slouches! If spirits make you do weird things, but you love the flavor, Barrel Aged Beers may be your salvation…they are mine.

Beer: Oblivion
Style: Wine Barrel Aged Flanders Red Ale
ABV: 8.7%
Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing

Beer: The Stoic (2015)
Style: Barrel Aged Belgian Quad
ABV: 10.9%
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery

Beer: Space Trace (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.1%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Jam the Radar
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.7%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Darkstar November (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Jam the Radar (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Pugachev’s Cobra (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.5%
Brewery: Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Pugachev
Everything I love about Barrel Aged Beers, I owe to Pugachev…the grandfather of my Barrel Aged Journey.
Beer: Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths


Stouts

Fact, I LOVE STOUTS! I must give credit where credit is due and thank Guinness for taking me down the path of the Dark Side. Though these days, I’ve upped my stout game to the “N”th degree…Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Coffee Stouts—if you got ’em, I want ’em…ALL. These almost perfect stouts should be on any self-respecting stout lovers list…

Beer: Leche Molé
Style: Mexican Milk Stout
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Naughty Sauce
Style: Golden Milk Stout
ABV: 5.4%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Orange Mocha Frappucino
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 12.7%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Mega Black House (2016)
Style: Imperial Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 10%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Yeti
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.5%
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.

Beer: Bomb
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13%
Brewery: Prairie Artisan Ales

Beer: Heavy Boots Of Lead
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Brewery: SingleCut Beersmiths

HBOL
Impressive Brew’s coming out of this New York Outfit. Both the Barrel Aged and Non-Barrel Aged versions of this beer were fantastic!

Porters

I love history. I love beer. Beer History is the equivalent of an Acid Flashback for me…that is to say that it is highly enjoyable! Porter is the progenitor of the modern day stout. Again, thanks to Guinness for deciding to Stout up their Porter and Export it out of Ireland. The only thing as good as an Excellent Stout, is a Rich, Flavorful Porter and these are 3 such Porters…

Beer: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.4%
Brewery: Funky Buddha Brewery

Beer: Lumppacoal
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 11%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Lumppacoal
Rich, chocolatey Deliciousness! The Brewmeisters at Noble have their way with every style imaginable…for the Naughty & Nice!
Beer: Stone 6th Anniversary Porter
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.


IPAs

My Shangri-La. Hoppy, Hoppy oh and Hoppy! If I could only drink one style of beer for the rest of my life, it would hands down be IPA. There is something about a nice bitter glass of India Pale Ale that just makes my heart sing. And, I love every style of IPA. Be it, Single, Double, Triple, Session, Coffee, Red, Black…whatever! So long as it’s hoppy and preferably resinous; I’m in HEAVEN! Below is a list of all manner of IPAs that approached perfection in 2016. (This list is arranged Alphabetically by Brewery)

*This is a Hop Head’s list. No balanced IPAs made this list

Beer: Amalgamator
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Melrose
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Pride of cHops
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing

Beer: Bully Pulpit
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Council Brewing Co.

Bully
In the words of Mr. K: “They are more than just sours…” San Diego’s Council Brewing came out of nowhere this year with a flag flying true to style West Coast IPA that was absolutely fantastic!
Beer: The 105 IPA
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: Vallejo
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.7%
Brewery: Half Acre Beer Co.

Beer: Bonkers
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Highland Park Brewery

Beer: Maine Event
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Magnify Brewing Co.

Beer: Underworld Dreams
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.2%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Spock It
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

Beer: Juicy is the New Dank
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Hoptonic
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing

Beer: Green
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Brewery: Tree House Brewing Co.


Double IPAs

Beer: The Maharaja
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 10.2%
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.

Beer: Haze Flux
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Hopocalypse (White Label)
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.4%
Brewery: Drake’s Brewing Co.

Beer: 5 Lb. Sledgehammer
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.1%
Brewery: El Segundo Brewing Co.

Beer: 1UP
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Highland Park Brewery

Beer: Atomically
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Brewery: Monkish Brewing Co.

Beer: Dank You For Being A Friend
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works (Collaboration with Cellarmaker Brewing)

Dank you
One of the things I love most about Craft Beer is the camaraderie that exists amongst breweries and Brewers. Collaboration beers are some of my favorite! This label makes me smile. Every time.
Beer: Tongue Tickles
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Resin
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.1%
Brewery: Sixpoint Brewery

Beer: Ruination 2.0
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Enjoy By 02.14.16 (Unfiltered)
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Beer: Enjoy By 07.04.16
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.


Triple IPAs

Beer: Do You Smell What the Waka’s Cooking?
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 10.3%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

waka
Noble knows IPAs. Be they singles, doubles or Triples! Crisp and Clean.

Specialty IPAs

Beer: Blazing World
Style: Amber Ale (I don’t care what they say, this is a Fantastic IPA)
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer

Beer: Diavoletto
Style: Super Session IPA
ABV: 3%
Brewery: Bissell Brothers

Beer: Feel This Coffee IPA
Style: Coffee IPA
ABV: 7.3%
Brewery: Mikkeller Brewing SD

Beer: Enjoy By 02.14.16 Black IPA
Style: Double Black IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Enjoy
The Black IPA may be my favorite style of beer ever invented. Sucks that one of my favorite breweries went Corporate as I will surely miss this series…
Beer: Enjoy By 05.04.16 Black IPA
Style: Double Black IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.