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

 

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†!