The Top Ten Beers Of 2017…So Far
As much as I love a memorable meal, or a great album, or a roll in the hay with a young lady who just arrived in Los Angeles with dreams of breaking into the entertainment industry, nothing beats a cold beer. Beer (and by extension fine wines or small batch bourbons, I suppose) elevates those memorable meals, goes quite well with good albums (at least according to my Instagram account), and helps give me the confidence to make those rolls in the hay possible.
I try to take beer seriously without sucking the fun out of it. To that end I don’t chase a lot of hot new releases, I won’t stand in a line for a beer, and I like to share equally with enthusiasts as well as friends who couldn’t give a shit how many cases of whatever I’ve brought to Game Night were produced. I keep a “cellar” that currently houses a few hundred bottles. I think my cellar is nearly up-to-date, minus whatever is in my fridge at the moment awaiting consumption. If you want to keep up with what I’m drinking in real-time (or stalk me IRL), there’s always Untappd.
Speaking of which, according to my Untappd “Personal Stats” I’ve consumed 607 beers so far this year (roughly three per day…yikes), 399 of which were unique (as in, I’ve never had them before). The most-consumed beer this year has been #BasicBitch and second-most is Pliny The Elder. The latter makes sense, as I drank a hefty amount while I was in Santa Rosa a few months ago.
This list was compiled and calculated using my ratings on Untappd (and Beer Advocate where applicable). Rather than bore you with my own tasting notes I’m using the commercial descriptions wherever possible.
The Top Ten Beers Of 2017…So Far
- Tree House Brewing Company – Doubleganger
- Bottle Logic Brewing – Reaction State
- The Bruery – Room For More
- Moonraker Brewing Company – YOJO
- Other Half Brewing Co. / Industrial Arts Brewing – Nummy Nug Nug
- Brasserie Cantillon – Lou Pepe Framboise (2011)
- Bottle Logic Brewing – Fundamental Summation
10. AleSmith Brewing Company – Boxcar Speedway Stout (Beer Advocate: 4.27, Untappd: 4.25) – Imperial Stout Aged in Premium Bourbon Barrels for one year with Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Brazil Forastero Cocoa Nibs, Hatch & Mulato Chilis, and a unique blend of Columbian & Burundi Coffee locally roasted by Swell Coffee. A visi to the brewery earlier this year happened to coincide with this release. I didn’t plan to buy any but after tasting a splash in Anvil & Stave (the brewery’s barrel-aged tasting room) I left with a handful to send friends who would otherwise never get to try it. For a brewery that usually plays it conservative with adjuncts — letting the base shine — this was one of the most chili-forward beers I’ve had in recent memory. “Straight fire,” as the kids say.
09. Kane Brewing Company – Mexican Brunch (Beer Advocate: 4.63, Untappd: 4.5) – Imperial milk porter with coffee, maple syrup, cinnamon, cacao nibs, and ancho chili. A much softer chili touch than the AleSmith offering. Why’d I leave New Jersey again? Oh, right. California. At least I’ve still got friends and family there to send me Carton and Kane care packages.
08. Casey Brewing & Blending – Cherry Fruit Stand (Attika) (Untappd: 4.25) – “For this series, we blend whole fresh Colorado fruit together with Saison barrels that were seemingly made for each other. The beer will age on the fruit for weeks, slowly fermenting the sugars in the fruit which results in a farmhouse ale with balanced notes of the fruit used.” I’ve never had a Casey beer I haven’t loved. I’ve got a dozen or so more bottles from the past year waiting for me to open them and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come…
07. de Garde Brewing – Nectarine Premiere (Beer Advocate: 4.51, Untappd: 4.25) – A wild farmhouse ale aged in oak wine barrels with nectarines. One of the ugliest looking beers I’ve had in a long time was also one of the tastiest stone fruit sours I’ve had since…I don’t know, Lazy Susan?
06. Brasserie Cantillon – Lou Pepe Gueuze (2013) (Beer Advocate 4.38, Untappd: 4.5) – Lou Pepe Gueuze is part of Cantillon’s Lou Pepe series which is bottled on a regular basis. The series also contains Lou Pepe Framboise and Lou Pepe Kriek. Lou Pepe Gueuze is not a gueuze in the traditional sense. It is made from two year old lambic that has been aged in used wine barrels. To carbonate the beer, a small amount of sweet liquor is added at bottling, causing the refermentation in the bottle. Somewhere there are photos of me at a groomsman’s party the night before a wedding where everyone has gathered for a group photo. Everyone else is mugging for the camera and I’m in the corner sneaking an extra pour of this.
05. Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse – Bo & Luke (Beer Advocate 4.4, Untappd: 4.5) – Originally an Against the Grain Brewery and Brouwerij De Molen collaboration beer. For the first incarnation, De Molen head brewer Menno Oliver hopped in a muscle car and drove straight through from the Netherlands to Louisville, KY (that’s USA folks) to brew this bourbon inspired ale, and we liked it so much, we decided to do it again. We took the ingredients in bourbon whiskey (Barley, Rye, Corn) and then smoked them with cherry wood and brewed a huge imperial stout with them. Then to top it off we aged it in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels. The resulting beer is rich, smokey and complex, with a bourbon character of caramel, vanilla and spice.
04. Side Project – Fuzzy (Blend #1) (Beer Advocate 4.41, Untappd: 4.5) – Blonde American Wild Ale that was fermented and aged in Chardonnay barrels with Missouri grown White Peaches. The Batch 1 cocktail for fermentation includes both spontaneously captured yeast and bacteria from our family’s farm and our house wild blend.
03. Foam Brewers – Ghost (Beer Advocate 4.37, Untappd: 4.25) – Ghost is a mixed fermentation brettanomyces saison fermented with the Drie Fonteinen and Fantome strains. The mixed culture of yeast gives a unique combination of pineapple, lemon, and floral notes. Ever since my trip to VT a couple years ago I’ve tried to keep up with Foam / House of Fermentology as best I can. I’ve amassed a decent supply of HoF’s “Dot” beers, and I’m sure as I make my way through them at least one is going to appear on the Year-End version of this list.
02. Highland Park Brewery – Cold Box Cool Ship (Beer Advocate 4.31, Untappd: 4.25) – Cold Box Cool Ship is 100% spontaneously fermented in Highland Park. A very simple base recipe of barley, unmalted wheat, and aged German Hallertau hops allow the microflora to really stand out. We let the beer cool down in the open air overnight, getting inoculated with wild yeast and bacteria. We then let it ferment and age in neutral oak barrels for around a year. This all develops into something that is completely unique to our neighborhood. The beer has lean, pronounced grapefruit acidity with a delicate, raw mustiness as a nice counterbalance. Pairs perfectly with the elote quesadilla at Hermosillo. But then again, what doesn’t? That quesadilla would rate a 5-out-of-5 if there was a quesadilla-centric geosocial networking service…
01. Hill Farmstead Brewery – Juicy (Batch 2) (Beer Advocate 4.59, Untappd: 4.5) – Juicy is inspired by our love for New Zealand—the adventures had therein, and the journeys grown from without. Our love for the landscape, the agriculture, and the spirited reflection of its inhabitants a decade ago has led to the vision of what lies before you. After more than a year conditioning in wine barrels with our resident microflora, the beer that we have referred to as Juicy is now ready to be enjoyed.
I know some of you guys are functional alcoholics as well – what’s the best beer you‘ve consumed so far this year?
Roy Montgomery – Ten Beers With Five Bears At Two Guns, Arizona [MP3]
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