The Top 10 Beers I Consumed In 2017
This past weekend was the first Extreme Beer Festival ever held in Los Angeles. In the wake of such a phenomenally well-executed event filled with some of the most skilled brewers in the country, now seems like as good a time as any to reflect on all that I’ve consumed in 2017. Back in June I reported on my favorite beers of the year (so far). Ah, but six months is a long time. Things change. 180 days means…I don’t know, 100 opportunities to try something new? Wait. Actually, thanks to Untappd I can tell you far too much about my consumption habits. By the way, that rant I made to open my Top Ten from 2016 still applies. Take your “hype beasts” and your “whalez” and your “haze craze” and stick it up your ass. I’m not buying it.
There are just about 20 days left in 2017 and according to Untappd, a wonderful app I use whenever I drink (until I’m too drunk to operate my phone), I consumed 1166 total beers the past 365 days (Jesus Christ Evan, really?). 70% of those beers were unique, meaning I have never reported consuming them before. That’s actually down from last year, when 83% of the 904 beers I consumed were new to me. I averaged 3.19 beers per day this year, up from my 2016 average of 2.5 beers per day. No wonder I’ve put on weight.
Untappd has some weird style distinctions, but according to my stats the top beer styles I consumed this year were American IPAs (116 check-ins), double/imperial stouts (77 check-ins), and saison/farmhouse ales (76 check-ins). My biggest drinking days of the year were this past Saturday (EBF, 45 check-ins) and November 25th (an epic bottles share in Hoboken, 31 check-ins). Yikes.
Mom, please disregard this entire post if you happen to see this.
In spite of my disinterest in “the game” as it extends to chasing whatever is LIT and/or FIRE at the moment, I got to consume some phenomenal brews this year. Some of them were released in 2017, and some came out of my cellar or a friend’s cellar. This isn’t a list of the ten best beers made this year, it’s a list of the ten best I consumed. Got it? Good. Let’s do this.
Highland Park Brewery – Barrel-Aged Griffith J. Griffith (Batch 3)
Cycle Brewing Company – Wednesday (2016)
Casey Brewing & Blending – Casey Family Preserves: Peach (Motueka Dry-Hopped)
Brasserie Cantillon – Lou Pepe Framboise (2011)
Weldwerks Brewing Co. – Rum Double Barrel Medianoche
AleSmith Brewing Company – Boxcar Speedway Stout
Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze Cuee Armand & Gaston (2015)
Toppling Goliath – Mornin’ Delight (2016)
Highland Park Brewery – Twiced Pinot
Brasserie Cantillon – Zwanze 2017 (Cuvee Bijette)
Hill Farmstead – Madness & Civilization #9
Foam Brewers – Built To Spill
Casey Brewing & Blending – Jammy (2016)
Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze (2011)
Brasserie Cantillon – Lou Pepe Gueuze (2013)
de Garde Brewing – Nectarine Premiere
New Glarus – Strawberry Rhubarb (2014)
de Garde Brewing – The Anniversary Blend No. 2
The Top Ten Beers I Consumed In 2017
10. Kane – Mexcian Brunch (2017) (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. I was actually fortunate enough to have last year’s batch in the first part of the year, and the most recent batch while I was home for Thanksgiving. And I have three more bottles headed my way. My sister and I did a little taste test blind with Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, Modern Times “Mexican Hot Chocolate” Monster’s Park, and Mexican Brunch…this one blew the competition away. The adjuncts were more-finely integrated, the mouthfeel more luxurious, and the heat level was just right.
09. 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.
08. Hudson Valley Brewery – Multichorus / Subglitch (Beer Advocate: 4.47, Untappd: 4.25) – Multichorus is a “Sour IPA” with raw wheat, malted oat, milk sugar, white chocolate, vanilla & cardamom, hopped with Citra powder. Subglitch is a “Sour IPA” with raw wheat, malted oat, milk sugar, local wildflower honey & grapefruit, hopped with Motueka. As much as I rail against IPA trends, I had these cans while I was home for Thanksgiving and it was the first time a “milkshake”-style IPA really impressed me. Both of these offerings were so outstanding that the kid who provided the cans was pretty much bullied (by me) into giving me cans to bring back to LA. I can be a real asshole when I drink. Earlier that day Ian shared Blue Hundreds with me, about six months after sharing Silhouette with me. I’ve had 4 Hudson Valley beers and I’m now convinced they’re one of my favorite breweries in the country.
07. OEC – Antioch (Blend 1) (Untappd: 4.25) – Antioch is a blend of ales lying somewhere between the Flemish Red & Oud Bruin styles. Historically it would have been referred to as a “provision beer,” meaning it was stored and aged to allow the flavor to develop. Antioch (Blend #1) is a blend of several different ales that were aged under different conditions: About 1/3 is a blend of red ales double matured in larger Sangiovese casks, while the other 2/3 comes from various ales matured from 6 months to 3 years in red wine barrels. Until last month I didn’t know OEC existed, but you’d better believe they’re on my radar now. Beautifully tart (not puckering!) and funky, with a dry finish. This was opened at a bottle share and might have been overshadowed by more renowned bottles…but I made sure to sneak a couple extra tastes of this one. So, so good.
06. 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.
05. Against The Grain – Bo & Luke (2016) (Beer Advocate: 4.40, Untappd: 4.50) – 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. Backacre Beermakers – Sour Golden Ale (Blend 9) (Untappd: 4.25) – This sour golden ale is fermented entirely in oak by a multitude of microorganisms. Barrels of multiple ages are blended for balance, then 100% bottle conditioned to high carbonation. Blends generally have an average barrel age of 18 months, plus 6 months conditioning in the bottle. If all you do as a brewer is make one beer each year, you’d better do it right. Luckily Backacre KILLS it. I was floored by Blend 9. It had proper barnyard funkiness, tasted strongly of stone fruit (even though its not fruited), with some light vinous notes. I would say this was the prettiest beer I had all year.
03. 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…
02. Hill Farmstead – Juicy (Batch 2) (Beer Advocate: 4.59, Untappd: 4.50) – 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.
01. Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Armand’4 Zomer (Summer) (Beer Advocate: 4.68, Untappd: 4.50) – This is probably the least surprising entry on this list. If all you did was scroll through the names of beers I consumed this year, you’d see Zomer and instantly assume it was my favorite. You wouldn’t be wrong. Armand’4 Zomer (Summer) is a three year blend that includes of some of the last of Armand’s own lambic brewed before “the thermostat incident” of 2009 that led to the loss of 80,000 bottles of lambic. Each season’s gueuze has an unique and different blend and is blended based on the season. Bottled in 2010, released in 2011, consumed in 2017. Musty, moderately acidic (lemon/citrus), moderately carbonated and dry on the finish. This ranks among the best gueuze I’ve ever consumed.
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life [MP3]
Leave a Comment