…Never send to know for whom the beer pours; It pours for thee.
As we sing our Auld Lang Syne, we remember our GREAT year – our year of triumph, our year of defeat, our year of greatness, fault, and grief – and our year of beer. The holidays always make me take stock of my blessings, and (although some may think it small), I count the special brews, artistically crafted by women and men nationwide, among them.
There are many, many people who toil behind the scenes – coming in at all odd hours of the morning or night, and pouring themselves into the magic of a perfectly crafted beer. These unsung heroes bust their butts to bring us beverages – and are worthy of praise. So to everyone involved in the evolution of ales and lagers mentioned below, I wish you nothing but the finest in the coming year.
With that said – let’s look back on what these wizards whipped up in 2017:
‘WHOOMP! THERE IT IS’ | Imperial Stout | Noble Ale Works, ABV 13.4%
A full-bodied Imperial Stout brewed with coffee beans and aged in Buffalo Trace barrels from 2nd Craft. Coffee clings deep to this beer – the malt gives it backbone to stand up on, a full body of mouthfeel, and a sense of balance, but, at the end of the day, this is a Coffee Beer. Not just any coffee beer though – a ridiculously well executed coffee beer that will please coffee and ale fiends alike.
Noble Aleworks Golden Children = 100
AHAB (Another Hazy Ass Beer) | Hazy IPA | Artifex Brewing Company, ABV 8.0%
Oh, Ahab! What shall be grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air! The evening fog, blanketing and covering the mystery below – a haze…this beer certainly has it. With a grain bill of Pilsner, Oats, Wheat, and Caramel Malt, this ale is a storm of flavor. A generous (yet curated) hop bill plies the bitterness of the drink, and lends a counterpoint to some of the sweeter grain notes. Who’s got haze? Artifex got haze!
Tricks Are For Kids | DIPA | – TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room, ABV 13.4%
This is a beer for any time of day. The first time this special brew hit my lips, I felt myself tripping through time – returning to those youthful days of Saturday Morning Cartoons, sitting on the couch, and enjoying a bowl of this ale’s namesake cereal. This DIPA is punched up with citrus, providing a hefty fruity twang to a balancing malty base.
Artifexican | Mexican Lager| Artifex, ABV 4.5%
Put down the Corona, gabacho – time for some proper beer. Although Artifexican is a lager (and on the lighter side), don’t mistake that lightness for blandness. The clean, refreshing flavor is perfect any day of the year in Southern California – it provides a cool, refreshing bite, with an ABV low enough to let you enjoy more than a couple pints. Watch out 21st Amendment – El Sully finally has some real competition!
Bohemian TAPSody | Czech-Style Pilsner | TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room, ABV 5.8%
It’s been a good year for lagers. The lighter side of beer seems to have finally found its foothold, providing a refreshing option for those of us who elect to enjoy the crisp, clean, light bite of a good pilsner over the eternally popular IPA (nothing against them – but sometimes you want to drink your beer instead of eat it). This true-to-style Czech-Style Pilsner pleases with notes of spice and a bright floral hop aroma, provided courtesy of Saaz hops. Drinks refreshingly crisp with a light-medium body and finishes with a soft, rounded bitterness.
Picnic Lightning | Hazy IPA | Brouwerij West, ABV 6.8%
This Hazy IPA is a bright citrus bomb with lemon in the front and acidic notes of ruby red grapefruit and kefir lime. The balance is nice – a firm bitterness that lends a dry finish, with just a hint of sweetness. It sits on the palate with a lingering chewy mix of bitterness and fruity hops notes, providing and easy-drinking beer with nice complexity for the style.
Pineapple Diesel | DIPA | – RIIP Brewing, ABV 8%
Aloha tastebuds, welcome to your tropical paradise – let’s lounge here for awhile. This beer is filled with excessive qualities of dank resinous hops and coupled with lush notes of juicy pineapple, citrus and passion fruit. Definitely a strain (of beer…yeah, of beer) worth trying. Ditch the dole whip and sip on some vivacious pineapple diesel.
OC Cheese | Brett IPA | Good Beer Company, ABV 7.5%
This beer was one of the highlights of OCBG Invitational 2017. Like Good Beer itself, it’s not flashy or ‘out-there’ – really, it lives in a world of understated beauty. The Brett takes the sharper notes of a typical west coast IPA and smooths them out – chamfering the edges to create a clean transition all across the flavor spectrum. Dry, biting, and earthy, this brew takes the style to a satisfying new level.
Bourbon Barrel Aged HI-Croixson | BBA Stout | TAPS Fishouse & Brewery, 12% ABV
A robust, imperial stout lovingly aged in bourbon barrels aged and infused with Bohdi Leaf Columbian coffee beans. Viscous. Bold. Deep. Notes of brûléed candied brown sugar linger, while warming bittersweet notes of chocolate please on the finish. If you have an intense craving for a rich BBA stout, this beer will do the trick.
Harry Tuttle | Foeder Saison | Barley Forge, ABV 6%
Given its namesake from the iconoclastic freelance thermodynamic engineer in a fantastic (read:1985) dystopian film, this beer fulfills its style – and provides everything you would expect from a traditional Saison. It’s rustic, woodsy and pleasantly tart flavors are apropos for lazy afternoons. Barley Forge’s Head brewer Kevin Buckley has fashioned this Saison with traditional old-farmhouse ingredients: flaked rye, wheat, flaked oats and Belgian pilsner malt. This rustic ale quenches your thirst for farmhouse funk, but surprises with dry earthy character on the finish. After the requisite TLC of primary fermentation is complete, the beer is transferred to an oak foeder where it is conditioned for six long months with a unique strain of Brettanomyces – giving it a gentle, tenderly deserved flavor.
Hug Me | Milk Stout | Barley Forge, ABV 5%
My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates – it’s better with beer. With that spirit, I’d posit that nothing said Valentine’s Day like Barley Forge’s Chocolate Milk Stout, ‘Hug Me’. Velvety. Smooth. Decadent. This rich chocolate milk stout will satiate any chocolate lovers palate – well, satiate for a small amount of time. Believe me, you’ll want more.
Beachcomber | Tiki Inspired Belgian Strong | Breakside Brewery PDX, ABV 9.2%
This tiki twist on an ale lives in quite its own category. Starting life as a strong golden ale, then living for months in rum barrels, this tropical beverage really brings the spirit of the old “Trader Vic’s” vibe to your glass. Rum, fruit, sweetness – it packs all the traditional tiki flavors in, providing an experience that’s so unique, one has to taste it to really get the whole experience.
Valley Beer | American Lager | Wren House Brewing AZ, ABV 4.6%
Valley Beer is our take on a real, American Lager. Brewed with flaked corn, American Lager Yeast and a touch of Saaz hops, this unfiltered American Lager is incredibly sessionable – yet equally memorable. In our minds, lagers can be just as delicious as an Imperial Stout or NEIPAs. Join us on the mission to Make American Lagers Great Again
Raspberry Blush | Berliner Weisse | Mikkeller SD, ABV 4.0%
Coffee and raspberries? Yes – and it works. This Berliner Weisse takes the two and gently blends them into something truly delicious. The coffee is present – but just a whisper of it. Just enough to give you the idea. Then it backs off, letting the luscious raspberry flavor shine through. Grab a can (if you can) in give this one a go.
Hop Swingers | Hazy IPA | Artifex & Burgeon Beer Collaboration, ABV 8%
Dry features Nelson and Vic Secret as the dry hops, with a whirlpool of Amarillo and Galaxy. These luxuriant combinations provide an intense hop flavor that stands on a backbone of pilsner malt and wheat (including flaked wheat). Each pint can pours thick – and leaves you wanting another. Beware though – at 8%, this one can sneak up on you faster than you’d think.
Boo Berry Muffin | American Wild Ale | Great Notion PDX, ABV 5.5%
If you’ve never had Great Notion’s “Blueberry Muffin,” then find your favorite Portlander and make them mule some back to you. Then, come enjoy their newest twist – they’ve taken the ale, but used a veritable mountain of the namesake cereal to zest up the beer. It might sound weird to say that a beer tastes exactly like cereal – but believe me, when you do taste it, it makes sense. With an up front boo-berry bite, and a malty, lingering, cereal finish, this beer could basically be breakfast – and (thankfully) it has a low enough ABV to allow you to enjoy it throughout the day.
The Florist | Wild Ale | De Garde, ABV 6.2%
A Spontaneous Wild Ale, fermented and aged in Oak Gin Barrels for an average of 20 Months, then conditioned in barrels with Fresh Meyer Lemon and Duncan Grapefruit Zest and Juice. Blended in Collaboration with our Friends at Fonta Flora Brewing. Notes of lush floral character guaranteed to delight those who like to take a walk on the wild side.
Kentucky Hug | BBA Stout | Tustin Brewing Company, ABV 13.7%
Any whiskey drinker can tell you about that warm feeling you get upon the first sip of a finely distilled and aged liquor. That slow burn that takes away every care of the day. That’s a Kentucky Hug. Brewer Jarrod Larsen has taken that feeling and shifted it a little south ABV-wise – into the realm of bourbon barrel aged stout. The deep, roasted notes of malt are complimented by rich, vanilla-esque bourbon. This beer can keep you warm at night – just take care with it, since that Kentucky Hug can grab you and hold on tight if you get more than one in you.
Graham’s Watermelon Gose | Arizona Wilderness, ABV 4.5%
A perfect poolside companion. That’s how I’d describe this treat. Delicate, light, and refreshing, this watermelon-packed drink is the perfect way to put away the Arizona heat. It’s mellow, flavorful, and refreshing enough to have all day, any day. My only regret is that I only brought one crowler home.
Cat’s Eye | Hazy IPA | Unsung Brewing, ABV 6.5%
This is your friendly neighborhood hazy IPA. Supremely drinkable, strong enough to stand up sip-after-sip, and with haze thicker than a sandstorm, this beer has been presented both on-tap and in cans by the brewers at Unsung. Stop by the tasting room, grab a pint and a pack, kick back, and enjoy the thick, bitter, piney haze of this beverage.