Friday, December 28, 2012

Best Beers of 2012

Admittedly, I'm probably the worst beer blogger on the planet.  It's been over a month since my last entry, which is not how I envisioned this blog going.  Finding time to sit down and organize a post has been challenging.  I have some new ideas for the blog which I will make an effort to launch in the coming year.  I will likely have less full beer reviews and begin doing a series called "quick sips" which will be a cliffs notes version of a beer review.  This type of article will likely be more conducive to my hectic lifestyle and should yield more blog activity.

I have been thinking a lot about what were the best beers I consumed in 2012.  This year has been a phenomenal beer drinking experience.  From special releases, to locals, to festivals, to bottle shares and tastings....I've had a plethora of incredible opportunities to enjoy some of the best beer on the planet.  Many beers have changed my mind about styles I typically didn't think I would ever enjoy.  There's no point in trying to rank my favorites of the year because that task is simply too daunting.  So here are the best beers I was able to have this year:

1.  Founders CBS:  Had this a couple times this year.  First time was at Dark Lord Day 2012, second was on tap at Twenty Taps Anniversary party, third time was during the Bears first game of the season.  Epic does not even  begin to do justice to how good this beer is.  Phenomenal combo of flavors between coffee, chocolate, and maple sweetness.  It's probably the best beer I've ever had in my life.

2.  Alchemist Heady Topper:  Speaking of the best beers I've ever had in my life, this gem from a small brewery in Vermont also Tops that list (no pun intended).  Bursting with dank hops this canned beer delivers a hop punch that is reminiscent to a 1980's Mike Tyson uppercut.  Probably the best DIPA I've ever had.  Even better than....

3. Russian River Pliny the Elder:  When a week or so fresh, this beer rivals Heady Topper for that top spot of DIPA's.  This one is pure IPA perfection.  Packed with Citrus hops and a nice dose of pine and tropical sweetness, it's a more complex IPA than Heady Topper.

4.  Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary:  This was a difficult bottle to track down, but I was lucky enough to grab a handful of them.  The citra hopping of this beer vaults it into top beer status for me.  It's a palate wrecker.  Fantastically bitter and hopped to the extreme.  I wish this would be a regular offering from Stone. Probably the best beer I've ever had from them.  I miss it.

5.  Three Floyds Dark Lord:  Enjoyed this bottle on my birthday.  Incredibly complex with substantial depth of flavors that progress and change as I drank it.  Took me an hour and a half to drink the bottle.

6.  Founders KBS:  Had my first one during a Skype session with my sister and brother in-law from Colorado.  Had one a couple nights ago as well.  This beer is magnificent.  Oak, bourbon, vanilla, chocolate,  and coffee flavors do an awesome dance on the palate.  Aging nicely also.

7.  Westbrook Citrus Ninja Exchange:  You all know I am a fan of the grapefruit heavy IPA's.  This one probably possessed the most grapefruit flavor I've had in a beer...ever.  Thanks to Mike from Westbrook for making it possible for me to get my hands on this one when I was in South Carolina.

8.  Russian River Supplication:  This beer began to change my mind about Sours.  Enjoyed it twice this year with my wife who also shared in the enjoyment.  Aged in Pinot Noir barrels with cherries, this thing is as dynamic a beer as I have ever had.

9.  Bells Java Stout:  The perfect example of a coffee stout for me.  Have had it multiple times in the past couple months.  The coffee is so massive.  One of the most under appreciated coffee stouts around.

10.  Flat 12 Brandy Barrel Aged Walkabout Pale Ale:  Enjoyed this at the Flat 12 anniversary party.  Definitely one of my favorites along with Van Pogue.

11.  Goose Island Bramble Rye Bourbon County Stout:  So far it's my favorite BCS variant.  Had it twice this year and it was better the second time.  The stout has an awesome combo of Bourbon, rye, blackberry, raspberry, and chocolate.  Such a phenomenal beer.  Opened my eyes to stouts that have a good tartness to them.

12.  Firestone Walker Wookey Jack:  Black IPA perfection.

13.  Bells Kalamazoo Hopsolution Ale:  Couldn't believe it when I had it a couple months ago, but I liked this better than Bells Oracle, which also is a top beer of the year.  This one surprised me.  Loaded with citrus hops and a nice light mouthfeel, I felt like I could drink it all night long.  That wasn't going to happen, though, because earlier that night I was lucky to have....

14.  Bells Black Note:  This one was better on tap than it was from a bottle.  The bourbon and vanilla creaminess really popped on tap.  What a great BA stout.

15.  Jackie O's Dynamo Hum:  One more sour to remember.  Loaded with Raspberry, Oak, and lemon.  This one was complex and tart as hell.  Definitely left an impression.  Many thanks to Scott for allowing me the opportunity to sample one of the best sours I've ever had.

16.  Oskar Blues Devian Dales IPA:  Probably my favorite beer from Oskar Blues.  Awesome citrus and pine flavors.

17.  Three Floyds Rye Da Tiger:  Double version of Rye Da Lighting.  It's everything I want in an Imperial Rye IPA.  Complex hop flavors with a nice rye spice.  Would like more Rye but that's being nit-picky.  Glad to see FFF decide to make this their standard December release.

18.  Sun King Pappy Van Muckle:  Wee Muckle aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels.  Incredible smoothness and depth of flavor.  This beer is pure gold....just wish I could get more of it.

19.  Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA:  Another IPA that surprised me with how great it is.  Awesome citrus and pine flavors.  Incredibly drinkable.  Could easily be an every day drinking beer.

20.  Three Floyds Zombie Dust:  A Best Beer list is not complete without Zombie Dust.  This american pale ale actually should be listed as an IPA according to style guidelines, but FFF generally bucks style guidelines.  Loaded with citra hops and is as drinkable as any beer I've ever had.  I can confirm that I have consumed over 100 of these this year....and I never get tired of it.

There are many many many other awesome beers I had in 2012.  In 2013 I am looking forward to enjoying more of the beers I already know that I love and sticking more to those standards that we take for granted.  Of course I'm going to be on the lookout for interesting trades and special releases, but won't do near as much of that in 2013 as I did in 2012.

What were some of your best beers of 2012?  What are you looking forward to in 2013?



  1. Excellent list, well done. I really really enjoyed that Rye da Tiger.

    My personal list would add Parabola, that beer is heavenly.

  2. I could probably add 100 beers the, and Parabola would definitely be there. I just had a little taste of Batch 1 though so I didn't feel I got to drink enough to justify adding it to the list.

  3. Well we will have to remedy that then won't we? ;)

    Thanks for the heads up on the Fat Heads Head Hunter and Sun King Pappy Van Muckle, those were highlights of GABF.

  4. I don't normally like Stout's but Black Tuesday by Bruery was really impressive.

    "Our infamous Black Tuesday is an Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels for over a year. Rich caramel, toasted malt, vanilla, burnt wood, anise are just a few of the many flavors of this rich, decadent imperial stout.

    ABV: varies, IBU: 40, SRM: 100+, Release: October (Available at Brewery Only)"