Beer in Review

Despite my deceptive cycling speed, I am but a humble beer powered machine. For that reason, my love of beer always has a prominent spot. Just in time for the end-of-the-year review season, I will put my iron in the fire. Get ready to be scalded.

I thought it fitting to recount five beers that especially blew me away this year (not to discount the consistent performers like Deschute’s Black Butte, Sierra’s Celebration, Rogue’s Dead Guy, almost anything from Ommegang, Allagash, or any Trappist Brewery). So on that note, the beers in review:

5. Deschutes Black Butte XXI

A Black Butte lover for so long, it’s natural that my first introduction to a Deschutes tribute brew was this one. Brewed with cocoa nibs, infused with tons of roasted coffee, and aged on whiskey barrels. A porter on steriods. Despite the “Best After” date of 10/2010, this beer tastes fantastic already. Just to be safe I also have a case aging right now. Did I mention they wax dip the caps. I love these guys.

4. Dogfish 120 Minute IPA

I used to be a hop-head, but at some point I over did it. Couldn’t handle the ridiculously IBUs microbrews were cranking out just for the sake of it. All I wanted was a well balanced hoppy beers with lots of great flavor and aroma. Dogfish revived my faith and took it to the next level. Somehow obtaining incomprehensible alcohol levels (18%? seriously?), the residual sweetness of this IPA desperately needs hops by the boat load for balance. Utilizing a continuous hopping device (engineering!) and generously dry hopping, this beer is feat that should not be missed. If only it was distributed in California.

3. Allagash Fluxus ’09

I found this beer in City Beer Store‘s amazing selection. Allagash’s anniversary selection described as having sweet potato and black pepper, I just had to try it. What a unique experience. Spicy, dry, all sorts of aroma and flavors I can’t even put my finger on. A very unique beer with the high quality you can always expect from Allagash. Fantastic.

2. 21st Amendment‘s Lower de Boom Barleywine

This was a tough one. 21st has produced so many great beers this year, and in fairness I shouldn’t pick more than one. What a challenge. Strong Beer Month in February and Belgian Beer Month in November did not help. With competition including their Baby Horse Quadrupel and the best canned beer ever, Monk’s Blood, it was their Barleywine that changed my beer drinking. Prior to this beer, every Barleywine completely turned me off to the point I avoided them. Well balanced, not over hopped and highly alcoholic, this stuff is delicious. It’s not just the Belgians that know what they’re doing with high alcohol brews, and 21st continues to do amazing things in San Francisco. I consider myself lucky.

1. Van der Dans California Common

Call me a sentimental sap. I am. I’m also biased. This beer was the first that I brewed with @the_danno, which has catapulted our homebrew efforts. Dubbel, Tripel, Scotch Ale, Marzen, Dunkelweiss, Bock, Belgian Wit, Porter, Kolsch all followed. Not a bad beer yet (knock on wood). With a barleywine and our 1st year anniversary brew (a quadrupel) on the horizon, things are looking as good as ever. So relax, have a homebrew.

Here’s to all the amazing beers 2010 will bring. Prost!

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