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…

Somehow a 7th Anniversary in the books…

The sun is out this morning, in full force, in the slowly rising city of Anaheim, California.  The Orange County city that gave the world Oranges, No Doubt and today some of the best beer being brewed in America.  While the elements tried Saturday, to test the mettle of Noble Ale Works‘ fans, the Noble Crew and their band of Nobleteers still managed to pull off another successful, delicious and thoroughly entertaining Anniversary Party.  (That certainly left more than a few folks shuddering to think about last night…)  Here are my reflections on the day as a Nobleteer.

Whether you’re a fan of the latest Hazy IPA, Cereal Stout, Spicy Beer, Sour or tried and true West Coaster, Noble brewed up something for everyone.  I had the pleasure of serving the most beautiful beer I’ve ever seen, Orange is the New Black Currant, a Radler that was as delicious as it was beautiful.  And I’m sure it would be all over Instagram if folks weren’t drinking and had ten minutes to type out that hashtag #… (I’ve now done it for you, so if you took pics of that beauty, hashtag away.  If there was a prettiest in show or most likely to be mistaken for an Acai Smoothie Award, this lovely lady has it in the bag, and everywhere else for that matter.)  I also measure beer success by how often the Brewers and Tasting Room Employees come back and yeah…FANTASTIC BEER!

I also served Montemocito (would love to know the meaning behind this beer name Noble folks.) This was a Cherry Lemonade Beer.  Though I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, the folks who like it came back like 15 times, seriously.  I also poured a few Lemon Shandylands and Pomelo Something or other….I learned what a Pomelo looked like yesterday, I kinda knew what it was, but people kept asking so I finally looked it up and then started describing it…beer brings knowledge, knowledge is power…beer is power.

The best part of being a Volunteer Beer Server is getting to meet and talk beer with so many cool and often like minded people.  The one thing we all can agree on is that we love beer and Noble was more than generous in facilitating and offering a plethora of delicious libations.

Huge thanks to Thunderking Brewing for keeping me going with that yummy Cold Brew! Appreciate it!

All in all, it was a fun, exciting and joyous couple of hours.  The Impromptu Dance Party USA that sprung up at 4PM was absolutely awesome and Vito was, well Vito! Such an Awesome Day! Thanks again Noble for the opportunity and thanks to everyone who came out in support of one of America’s Premiere Breweries and local Anaheim, Orange County treasures.  I look forward to continued to success for this Crew and can’t wait to see where this year takes them.

(To anyone I was lucky enough to serve, I truly hope you enjoyed the beer and the day!)

Hope your 2018 has been full of delicious Independent Craft Beer thus far, and if not, get on it!

BrewFiend

 

 

 

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

 

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

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.

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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

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

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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.

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.

Parabajava: The Experience

Bourbon intertwined with beer has quickly become a favorite flavor experience to my thrillseeking pallette.  And when a brewery can seamlessly intermix other of my favorite flavors such as espresso coffee into said  experience, not only am I down, but I will gladly go out of my way to procur said libation.  Luckily for me, sometimes, just sometimes, your beer karma comes around and a fellow follower of the craft rains blessings like SCUD missles upon you.  And recently, I experienced said bombing.  A friend I’ve made trading beer with blessed me with a bottle of Firestone Walker’s 2015 Parabajava Barrel-Aged Imperial Coffee Stout.  And as my beer fridge is crowding as quickly as Chino, I had to take the plunge and start drinking some fancy brews.  Here’s the thing though, I didn’t realize that this was Bourbon Barrel Aged until after I cracked the top…oh well, here I am five hours later, still sipping and waxing poetic on this fantastically crafted Russian Imperial Stout type BBA brew.  This has aged so nicely since last year, and it’s so smooth considering it weighs in at 14% ABV, I upped my Heavy Weight badge on Untappd a level with this beauty.  I’m not one to sit and describe beers, but I think it’s suffice to say that this beer perfectly brings together the flavors of Coffee, Chocolate, Bourbon and Stout.  And, if you are a fan of said items, or more importantly a fiend for said items, you will enjoy this beer.  Not sure how easily you could procur a bottle of 2015 at this point, but I for one, will always be on the lookout for this one going forward.  If you’re on the ledge about purchasing beers over $20 a bottle, all I can say is that sometimes quality costs…Hopefully, my enthusiasm over this one (I haven’t posted in 7 months…) prompts you to seek it out.  Happy Hunting.  Peace, Love, Beer!

BrewFiend

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†!

 

Time is not on my side…

The perfect beer blog should inform people of…blah, blah, blah.

People often refer to me as a Jack-of-all-trades, I know just a enough on a multitude of subjects to be dangerous…While I don’t know everything there is to know about beer or brewing, I have an awful lot of experience with smelling, sampling, repeating and discovering what tastes good to me.

(so much good beer! such little time…)

Whether in my adopted state of Wisconsin (Madison, Madtown–I miss you, go Badgers!)[Blasphemy when considering I’m an Illinois native and alum…]or my third state to call “home” California, I’ve sought out beer that I like and sought it out often.

Unfortunately for me, I tend to be a bit of a “collector” when I find something that peaks my attention.  And so I’ve been around the brewery block more than a few times as they say…

I’ve mildly dabbled in trading or the infamous “beer mail”, And I must confess I’m guilty of using a suitcase much larger than I needed so that I could transport some East Coast Craft across the entire country to my West Coast home.  My wife just looked at me in disbelief when she saw me packing bubble wrap, then semi-amazement as she watched me unpack a sixer of Jai Alai IPA and a bomber of Southern Tier Unearthly IPA.

(Baggage Fee? It was a business trip, the company paid that…)

While I can opine with the best of the them on what new beer a brewery just released or what last year’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Pugachev’s Cobra tasted like or what some website or app said is the perfect/best beer;  I question whether most casual beer drinkers care about that?

How is information on the nuance and minutia of beer and brewing useful to them, especially if they are just beginning to dabble in the world of craft?

One of the things I love about beer is that it offers different things to different people.  Whether you are interested in drinking it, collecting it, brewing it or whatever, there is a realm of knowledge available on the subject.

For me, beer opens a whole new world of knowledge to acquire, conquer and then help disperse.  Sharing information with people who are interested is something I have always loved to do, regardless of the subject.

So, here at craft beer confessions, all that you will get is honest to goodness opinions from a “beer snob” who believes that while beer may mean different things to different people, all beer is not created equal, but good beer is irrefutable.

Lately I’ve made an effort to get my “collecting” under a bit of control and that’s lucky for you, as this post is intended to share some “Regular Release” brews that are waiting on local stores’ shelves for you to come and blow 10 bones on a World-Class American Craft Beer drinking experience.

Drinking the latest Double IPA from Stone or enjoying a bottle of Bottle Logic’s Wine Barrel Aged Wheat Ale is fantastic, but lesbihonest, it can get costly.  And when there are so many affordable alternatives there’s no reason to break the bank every weekend.  The trouble is that in a realm of so many possibilities people often get overwhelmed and stick with what they know…

Nevertheless, fear not craft beer drinking brethren for I am with thee and will always point you down the path of the righteous ale or lager.  I’ve been trying to find the time to finish this post for almost three months, but just like brewing great beer, so it is with writing about beer; it may not be there when you want it, but it’s always on time.  While time may not be on my side, the time to enjoy good beer is upon you; and with that thought in mind, here are some of my recent pick ups that I am sure you will enjoy. Prost!

Karl Strauss Brewing Red Trolley Ale

The term Award Winning never really does much for me, but in this case I must admit it is warranted to read too much into this. Red’s aren’t a typical beer for me.  There was a time perhaps 15 year ago (pre hop-head days) when I lived for Ambers and Reds.  But after having my taste buds assaulted by the West Coast, low IBU beers just don’t cut it for me most days…

RTA is a beer I drank an awful lot of when I first moved to SoCal and as I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I recently decided to revisit this SoCal Classic. If you’re looking for a straight-forward, easy drinking beer to expose new friends to craft or just to enjoy with Monday Night Football, then look no further as Karl knows good beer.

Barley Forge Brewing The Patsy

If you like Coconuts, then I’m suggesting Coconuts migrate into your bloodstream via the liquid goodness that is Barley Forge’s The Patsy Coconut Rye Stout.  BFB burst onto the OC Craft Beer Scene last year and with the help of The Patsy has springboarded to the forefront of the scene. I guarantee you that anyone who has an open mind about beer and new things will LOVE this beer.  This is one of the only beers I’ve ever bought a T-shirt to represent… The fact that you can get a six pack for around $10 is ridiculous, so find it and drink it, often…

Modern Times Beer Blazing World

Ok, so this beer isn’t technically under $10, it’s $12 and it’s only a 4-pack, but it’s pints and it’s 64 ounces of confused GLORY!  This beer was my “Beer of the Year” 2 years ago and if the words HOPPY, DANK, AMBER excite you as much as they do me, then you want to try this <cough>IPA…

Seriously, I don’t care what you label it, nothing quite hits the spot for me like a world or in this case your taste buds set afire…this is not for the “casual” drinker, you must like Hops, I mean love Hops to enjoy this beer.

On a side note, all their flagship beers are available in 4-packs and right around $10 (this being the exception and it’s worth it.) and all of them are Fantastic, just depends on what you are in the mood for.  I certainly wouldn’t pass on the Black House Stout if coffee is your thing.

New Belgium Brewing Ranger IPA

NBB was one of the Craft Pioneers responsible for bringing flavorful, delicious beers to market and to the masses and Ranger is no exception. Through the use of Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe NBB is able to craft a highly drinkable and flavorful IPA than can hold its own with the West Coast.  Always respect the classics.

These are just a few of my recent pick-ups that are definitely worth a try. Give em a whirl and let me know if I’ve steered you wrong…

Until next time, happy hunting and remember Drink Good Beer! Craft Beer!

Photo Credit: BrewFiend