Top 25 Favorite Beers of 2013

December 28, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s been a busy year. I havn’t even posted a review in a couple months, I’ve been so busy. Luckily, there’s been some great beer along the way. A few that made the list were sent to me from friends across the country. I know I owe a couple of you, but don’t worry, you’ll get a nice package at your doorstep soon. I’m pretty lucky to be involved in such a passionate community and to continue getting people passionate about beer. It’s so much more than just a beverage. It’s an art, a science, and most importantly brings people together. Here’s to 2013 and Cheers to another year of amazing beer!

1. Schell’s Star of the North”

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Pretty much every beer that I’ve had from this brewery this year is on this list. But, by far and away, the most intriguing beer that I’ve had all year is this Berliner Weiss. It’s a very uncommon style, but it shouldn’t be. It’s refreshing, crisp, and acidic. I’m also willing to bet that it’s the most complex 4% beer you’ve ever had. I loved everything about this beer, even the packing. It’s a Champagne bottle! Champagne of the North, as the style was known. This is the stuff I geek out over.

2. Firestone Walker Solace

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Firestone Walker is a great brewery, but I didn’t know they had it in them to produce a beer that tastes like it was imported from one of the great breweries in Germany. I bought so many six packs of this last Summer. This beer is a symphony of balance. I can’t wait till next Summer!

3. Southern Oregon Holy Water

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I had absolutely zero expectations for this beer. It’s a cheap looking label and a style of beer that I’m usually pretty “Meh” about. But, wouldn’t you know it, the liquid inside is pure gold. It’s got a surprising amount of complexity with great balance. I know I won’t take that brewery for granted anymore.

4. Anchor Porter

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Believe it or not, this year was my first time having Anchor Porter. It’s considered a classic, but I usually only find the Steam Beer. Man, am I glad I finally got to try it. This might be the best smelling beer in the world! Seriously, give it a good whiff before you drink it.

5. Stone RuinTen

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So many IPAs, and so many from Stone. This happens to be one of the most interesting that I’ve ever had. The flavors and complexity will blow you away.

6. Alaskan Imperial Red

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Several times I have written off Alaskan. Not that they have bad beer, but the prices they charge are just out of line. This is the exception. One caveat, this is really an IPA with some darker malts, but who cares, it’s delicious.

7. No-Li Born & Raised

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One of this year’s most striking bottles also happens to be one of this year’s best IPAs. This is the Washington IPA that many other Washington IPAs try to be. Just look at that head.

8. Full Sail LTD 07

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It’s no surprise considering my high opinion of Full Sail Lagers, but this still took me back. One of the best Lagers I’ve had all year, and just a great Oktoberfest.

9. Iron Horse Double Rainbow

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I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS!!! This is the kind of beer that I just love. It reminds me of the Ninkasi Believer which is one of my very favorite beers of all time. It’s a hoppy red, that’s luscious and overflowing with flavor. Great label, too.

10. Midnight Sun Arctic Devil

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13.4% hides itself in this dark, brooding wine of barley. Easily my favorite of the year.

11. 10 Barrel ISA

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I’m sure most of us can agree that the term India Session Ale is ridiculous, but I’m sure we can also agree that this beer is delicious. These hop flavors of tropical and citrus fruits will get me every time.

12. Schell’s Chimney Sweep

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“Nice amount of smoke, and almost beef jerky kinda thing going on, with a little bit of vanilla, honey, chocolate, and apples.” How can that not be good?

13. Rince Cochon

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Hogwash is one of the best Belgians I’ve had this year. Lovely flavor and complexity, but who can resist the cute pig?

14. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed

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I love citrusy IPAs, so if you are going to make one based on citrusy hops, I’m gonna be all over it. The Bond Street Series continues it’s epic IPA amazingness.

15. Big Sky Brush Tail

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If you don’t think they can make a Saison in Montana, then you’ve got another thing coming. This beer is fantastic. Keep it up Big Sky.

16. Belhaven Wee Heavy

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I’ve never been a big fan of Scotch Ales. They are usually sweet and often coying. This just has a lovely caramel flavor that doesn’t overwhelm.

17. Schell’s Fresh Citra Pils

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There we go again with the citrus. Tropical fruit for days in this beer.

18. Laurelwood Portland Roast Espresso Stout

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Easily the best coffee beer I’ve ever had. Meaning, I hate almost all coffee beers, but I didn’t hate this!

19. Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis

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Take a great beer that I already love and add vanilla. Boom, top 25.

20. Ninkasi ReNEWale 2013

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Have I told you how much I like Ninkasi? This year’s ReNEWale is an ESB and a damn tasty one. Just take my money, Ninkasi. Take it all.

21. Widmer Columbia Common

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Let me list out the Steam beers that I’ve had before this: Anchor. Good on Widmer for making a beer so ingrained with another brewery.

22. Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung

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God knows how to pronounce this, but what I can pronounce is “yum”. It’s got some weird German hops in here that give it an earthy, floral, and even a tobacco note.

23. GoodLife Mountain Rescue

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I think this is the only beer that I’ve had from this brewery, but it’s just a nice, well-made brew at a decent price.

24. Elysian Savant IPA

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Another great Washington IPA and another favorite for this year. Check out their Manic IPA series, it won’t disappoint.

25. Dick’s IPA

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I guess I’m a fan of repetition, but here’s yet another great Washington IPA.

I’d like to give one special shout-out to Ninkasi for their Oktoberfest. They made a Dortmunder and it’s just brilliant. Did I review it? Of course not. But if they make it again, I can already tell you it’ll be on next year’s top 25. See you all in the new year, Cheers!

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Hiatus

December 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Sorry for the absence, folks. Life has been crazy busy at the moment, but you can expect new content soon, so stick around. Cheers.

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Anchor Porter

October 17, 2013 Leave a comment

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I ran across a 12-pack from Anchor with 4 of their beers. This quite excited me, so I purchased said 12-pack. I’ve actually only had the Steam beer out of this pack, so I’m finally able to try some more of their beer that isn’t super-widely distributed. This beer is older than me, and probably much wiser. It was first brewed in 1972 and bottled two years later. Pay homage, kiddies.

Stats:
American Porter. 5.6% ABV. California.

Very dark chocolate brown to black in color. Really fantastic head on this beer, and just a ton of lacing.

Dear god, this smells amazing. Can I never smell anything else? Jesus. The chocolate and caramel will blow you away.

Mouthfeel is also fantastic. Medium body, but with a good shot of carbonation. It’s not too heavy, just enough body.

Just a hint of tartness up front followed by caramel and chocolate. Love the roast, as it doesn’t overwhelm and leave you feeling like you just licked a briquette.

It’s a damn shame that I havn’t tried this sooner. 93 points.

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Hilliard’s 12th Can

October 3, 2013 Leave a comment

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A beer specifically made for the 12th Man. Texas A&M? Naw, Seattle stole that and made it theirs. This is for you, Hawks fans. Boy, do I love me some marketing. That aside, let’s get into the beer. It’s a “session” pale ale, so a pale ale. It features Maris Otter (interesting), and Crystal malts with Cascade hops. Am I using too many commas?

Stats:
American Pale Ale. 4.5% ABV. 32 IBUs. Washington.

Burnt yellow color with a really small head that doesn’t leave a trace.

Huh. It’s actually got a Belgian character. Must be using a Belgian yeast strain. Otherwise, it’s pretty malty, and a hair sweet.

Light body, high carbonation. Shotgun!

Slightly tart, slightly sweet. Definitely tastes like a Belgian strain. A bit spicey, with a half-way decent grainy finish. The hops aren’t very present, but it’s fairly bitter.

It’s okay. I don’t really see Hawks fans going crazy for it. 85 points.

Full Sail LTD 07 Oktoberfest Lager

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

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This is the 7th recipe in the Full Sail LTD Lager Series. I love these beers. Full Sail has really transitioned to more of a lager brewery, and that’s a good thing. We have an Oktoberfest beer today, that features Two-row Pale, Vienna, Caramel, and imported roasted Munich malts, with Saaz and Sterling hops. A little German, a little American, and hopefully more than a little delicious.

Stats;
Märzen. 5.7% ABV. 26 IBUs. Oregon. Available September-October.

Dark caramel color. Lovely head when poured down the middle. It fades to a whisper of white on the top of the beer. A few small streams of carbonation are visable.

Lots of caramel and vanilla on the nose. Some roasted nuts in here, as well. I’m even getting a little bit of grape jelly.

Mouthfeel is actually surprising. It’s a medium body with a nice crispness from the carbonation. I was really expecting a thin body here, but they hit the nail on this one.

Lovely maltiness, with caramel and vanilla. Hints of bready-ness and a beautiful finish that’s just has just a hair of sweetness and a grainy, vanilla flavor.

Really damn good beer. The best lager they’ve had for awhile and one you have to seek out before it goes away. 90 points.

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Beer Club 25: Scotch Ale

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Scotch Ale Beer Club

This month’s Beer Club is brought to you by the rich, malty, sweet beer known as the Scotch Ale. Admittedly not a favorite style of mine. These beers are generally quite sweet, full-bodied, and usually not shy with the alcohol. They often have a long boil which creates some caramelization. That adds sweetness, body, and probably a little color.
We had the same format as the last Beer Club. The brews were ordered by ABV and everyone wrote their top 3. 5 points for a first place vote, 3 for second, and 1 for third. We had 14 beers all together. Two of them are not pictured because other folks brought them. Let’s get started!

14th: Pelican MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale, Big Sky Heavy Horse, Hale’s Barrel Aged Wee Heavy, Orkney Skull Splitter, Silver City Fat Woody

These beers received no votes. The Big Sky Heavy Horse was actually a favorite of mine, but just couldn’t quite make it on my top 3. Most found the oaking of the Hale’s and Silver City to be over-the-top. Of course, in a tasting like this, it sticks out like a sore thumb. The Pelican was the only beer not technically a Scotch ale, but an export style Scottish ale, and was light and pretty unspectacular. The Skull Splitter had the most noticeable alcohol and was off putting to some.

9th: McEwan’s Scotch Ale, Silver City Fat Scotch Ale

The unoaked Silver City was donated and got a third place vote from me. Someone enjoyed the McEwan’s, which also got a third place vote.

7th: Boundary Bay Scotch Style Ale

A Bellingham classic got 3 votes. 2 third place and a second place vote. It was a go-to beer when I lived up there, and held up well in the tasting.

6th: Pike Kilt Lifter

Another local brew and another classic. This beer actually received a first place vote and a third place vote. It’s always interesting to see a standard hold up well.

5th: Oskar Blues Old Chub

Old Chub was on my ballot, as well as 4 others. I particularly like the balance of this beer. It’s not too sweet and cloying, and the alcohol is well hidden.

4th: Bellevue Brewing Scotch Ale

A growler of this was generously donated, and it’s a good thing, too! Fourth place is not too shabby for a new little brewery in our backyard. This beer got 2 first place votes and 2 third place votes.

3rd: Traquair Jacobite

It’s not considered “world class” for nothing. This coriander infused Scotch ale received 2 first place votes, and a second and third place vote.

2nd: AleSmith Wee Heavy

The AleSmith is our second place beer, but it actually received more first place votes than our overall winner. This was my first place. The balance on this beer is remarkable. It really was the show stopper for me. Delicious.

1st: Traquair House Ale

And our winner is the Traquair House Ale! This is their flagship beer and really is the classic example of the style. 2 first place votes and 4 second place votes.

This was one of the most challenging tastings that we’ve done. The beers really do become cloying after awhile and considering the ABV, we had all palate fatigue. It was a great night, and we got to try a few beers that the host brought out after the tasting. Lots of great beer! Next month we will be diving into Oktoberfest beers.

Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA

August 31, 2013 Leave a comment

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Happy 17th Stone. This is an interesting brew. It’s got a Pilsner malt profile, with a bunch of interesting German hops, and an American attitude and style. Pilsner malt base with such hops as Herkules, Hersbrucker, Magnum, Merkur, Opal, Smaragd, and Strisselspalt.

Stats:
Imperial India Pale Ale. 9.5% ABV. 102 IBUs. California. Limited Release.

Dark golden color. Nice fluffy head when it’s poured, but it calms down pretty quick.

German hops maybe, but the nose is all American. Heavy hop aroma that’s fairly earthy and floral. Some light fruits show up here, but I’m getting this really great tobacco component.

Mouthfeel is actually pretty light for this kind of beer. Probably a little too easy-drinking.

Interesting flavors on this beer. Earthy and floral with the hops. A little bit less fruit than on the nose. bitterness is there, but decent balance for the style. I’m drinking this beer room temp, and I do get just a bit of alcohol, but you really got to look for it.

This is what Stone does best, and this is no exception. This is a beer to buy. 91 points.

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