Archive for the tag “beer-review”

Top 10 Beers of 2013

Top10-2013

We were lucky enough to drink so many great beers for the first time in 2013, we had to find ways to pare this list down to a reasonable number.  For that reason, we decided to omit from consideration any beers that we tasted solely through the generosity of others.

For example, our friend Nick leapt into the world of beer trading this summer, and he was kind enough to allow us to taste such Beer Advocate Top 100 mainstays like Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Three Floyds Zombie Dust, Heady Topper, and Perennial Abraxas.  Meanwhile, our beer bar owner friends Clay and Rob gave us the opportunity to sample such legendary beers as Three Floyds Dark Lord (a 2010 vintage that was truly the best beer we had all year), Allagash FV13, and Cascade’s Kriek and Vlad the Imp Aler.  Our Michigan native friend Matt brought us Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Founders Centennial IPA back from a holiday trip home.  None of those beers were considered for our list.

For the sake of inclusion, we also left off any new vintages of classic beers we’ve tried before, such as Black Butte XXV, The Abyss 2013, or Dark Horizon 4th Edition.  Additionally, we omitted any beers that only one of us was able to try, such as Drake’s Blue Bottle Coffee Imperial Stout, the Danish “Atheist” Imperial Stout Gudelos, Jester King Black Metal, or the Harviestoun Old Dubh 18 Year.

Within those parameters, these are our consensus best beers that we tried for the first time in 2013:

Top 10*

  • AK Alive! (Mikkeller/Anchorage)
  • Breakfast Stout (Founders)
  • Double Eye PA (Mikkeller)
  • Farkin Wheaton w00t Stout (Stone)
  • Imperial Biscotti Break (Evil Twin)
  • Pupil/Apprentice IPA’s (Societe)
  • Pure Hoppiness (Alpine)
  • Saison-Brett (Boulevard)
  • Salty Beard (Solemn Oath)
  • Triple Olde Gnarlywine (Lagunitas)

*In Alphabetical Order.

10 More Amazing Beers

  • Almanac Beer Company sour beers
  • Berserker (Midnight Sun)
  • Café Racer 15 (Bear Republic)
  • Czar (Avery)
  • Dark beers by Clown Shoes – including Vampire Slayer, Very Angry Beast, Blaecorn Unidragon and Porcine Unidragon
  • Hop Zombie (Epic)
  • Prairie Bomb (Prairie)
  • Sans Pagaie (The Bruery)
  • Steel Dawn (Columbus)
  • SweetWater B.A. IPA (SweetWater)

Moscow – Midnight Sun Brewing Company

moscow_bttl

11% ABV; 45 IBUs
Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into globe glasses.

This Russian Imperial Stout brewed with rye from Anchorage-based brewers Midnight Sun pours an olive black with a quickly departing caramel-brown head and a body thick as motor oil.  The nose of booze-soaked dark chocolate practically leaps out of the glass, although black licorice, lumber, and molasses aromas are present when you drill down further.  Moscow offers velvety and decadent dark roasted malts on first swallow, with flavors ranging from rich chocolate to boozy barrel wood to fresh-roasted espresso beans.  It could have been an overwhelming beer, but it’s all given balance and texture on the aftertaste by the presence of peppery rye grains, and a coffee bitterness that lingers pleasurably on the palette.

 

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Moscow_MidnightSun

 

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Hoppy Daze – Coronado Brewing Company

hoppydaze_bttl7.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($7.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “Belgian-style IPA” from San Diego-based Coronado pours a cloudy gold with a lovely white head and a curious nose of citrus, green tea, and roots.  Very flowery up front – fresh grass and dandelions – with a very obvious hop presence, although it fades out with some of those green tea and root flavors suggested in the nose.  I don’t quite understand what is especially “Belgian” about this beer – it has more herbal tones than the quasi-tropical nature I associate with the pale beers of the region.  But don’t be discouraged by this case of mistaken identity – Hoppy Daze is still an original and pretty damn good to boot, offering an oddly satisfying mix of pink bubblegum, sasparilla root, and grass.

toasts-4    4 Toasts

HoppyDaze_Coronado

toasts-4

    4 Toasts

Top 10 Beers of 2012

2012We sampled a lot of amazing beers in 2012, and thanks in large part to this blog, we have met a lot of wonderful new people.  When compiling this list of our top beers of 2012, we eschewed any pretense of objective analysis, and simply chose our most mutually memorable first-time beer experiences.  Cheers to another year of great beer!

OUR TOP 10 BEERS OF 2012:

Adam/Fred (Hair of the Dog Brewing Company – 12 oz. bottles, purchased at The Bruery Provisions, Orange)

Black Butte XXIV (Deschutes Brewery – 22 oz. bottle, purchased at Taylor’s Market)

Boda Savaje (Peruvian wedding beer home brewed by Marie – draft, sampled at Scott and Becky’s wedding)

Dos Cone Es – aged on oak chips (Cismontane Brewing Company – draft, purchased at Beer Revolution, Oakland)

Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA (Stone Brewing Company – 22 oz. bottle, purchased at Stone Brewery, Escondido)

Every Man’s DIPA (Societe Brewing Company – draft, purchased at Blind Lady Ale House, San Diego)

Jack N Jolly (Drake’s Brewing– draft, purchased at The Page, San Francisco)

Old Stock Ale (2009) Cellar Reserve (North Coast Brewing – 16.9 oz. bottle, purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe)

Smoking Wood – Bourbon Barrel-Aged (The Bruery – purchased at The Bruery Tasting Room, Placentia)

Sweet and Sour (HaandBryggeriet – 16.9 oz. bottle, purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe)

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN… 

Pliny the Younger (Russian River Brewing Company)

Trappist Westvleteren 12

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Anniversary Barley Wine (Uinta Brewing)

Black Hole (Mikkeller)

Elliot Brew (De Struise Brouwers/Mikkeller collaboration)

FiringsQuad (Alpine Beer Company)

Imperial Smoked Porter (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)

Jewbelation 15 (He’Brew Beer)

Madrugada Obscura (Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales)

3 Days (Hitachino Nest Beer)

URKontinent (Dogfish Head)

Waldo’s 420 Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Company)

Rugbrød – The Bruery

8% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe and poured into tulip glasses.

A “Julebryg-style Dark Rye Ale” from The Bruery, Rugbrod pours a pumpernickel-brown with a vaporous, sand-colored head.  The savory and intriguing nose contains sharp rye and bread-like malts, while peppery rye also plays off of bread notes on the tongue.  Rugbrod offers much of the same flavor and texture as dark rye bread, while remaining a rich and drinkable cold-weather brew.  Even more complex flavors – molasses, nuts, and subtle spice-rack herbs among them – begin to come through as the pour warms.  This year’s vintage has more palette-splitting rye and less molasses than previous versions, but a year or two of cellaring should tame the beer.

    4 Toasts

   3.5 Toasts

To Øl – Sans Frontiére

7% ABV
Purchased at The Trappist in Oakland ($8.75/33 centiliter pour) and served in wine glasses.

This Belgian gold aged in white wine barrels with wild yeast from the excellent Danish brewers To Øl pours a burnt orange with a substantial and marshmallow-y off-white head.  Sans Frontiére offers a delicious nose of fresh grains, white wine grapes, fruit candy, and a little honeydew melon rind.  The taste is simultaneously dry and fruit-juicy, a neat mélange of unique tropical and citrus tastes (especially melons and tangerines) and a more delicate champagne sherbet-style flavor.   There is a distinctive but subtle development of flavors here, and the ultimate effect is a sort of Italian soda vibe, both in mouthfeel and aftertaste.

    4 Toasts

   4 Toasts

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