Well, another stellar year of beer drinking is in the books. Four beer fests, several trades and a number of new breweries entering the market it’s entirely safe to say that I had my fill. So, with another 365 days in the rear view- well 325 if you include the 40 days of lent where I took a beer sabbatical- I thought it was time to reminisce on my highlights this year.
I won’t get into too much detail except to list of my favorite beers I was able to try for the first time this year. Maybe even highlight a local brewery to watch out for that opened in 2014. Either way, if you see something below you haven’t tried, it’s safe to say I’d recommend you finding a way to get it in your hands in the near future. Cheers to an equally fulfilling 2015!
Modern Times Beer – Fortunate Islands: My first trade of 2014 included this little gem, which has led to some equally amazing beers from the West Coast throughout the year- including my first go around with a craft beer favorite which I’ll talk about later. This is a beer that I could throw down with reckless abandon in the summer months and should I ever visit the California area in the future, I fully intend to do just that.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company – PsuedoSue: All I have to really say about this beer is….get it anyway you can as soon as you can. I was able to have this for the first time on Valentine’s Day 2014 and again later in the month at Omaha’s Extreme Beer Fest and since then I can’t get it out of my head. I crave this beer all day everyday and getting my hands on more is número uno on my to do list- I suggest you follow suit. I’ve had several beers from TG this year and they’ve all been stellar, but this is the granddaddy of them all in my opinion.
Southern Tier Brewing Company – 2XOne: As big a fan of Southern Tier as I’ve become over the last couple years I’ve kinda been waiting for the next beer from them that would “wow” me aside from Pumking. My first impression of 2XOne was exactly that. The first bottle I tried I could not get enough and it only seemed to get better as I kept going back for it. Since then I’m back waiting for the next one to bowl me over, but I’m confident ST can keep delivering.
4 Hands Brewing Company – Chocolate Milk Stout / Resurrction IPA: I had to call this one a tie. I also want to take this time to tell anyone from 4 Hands that might be (but probably isn’t) reading, please expand distribution into Nebraska/Iowa. Preferably Nebraska as it’s where I reside, but I do make frequent trips across the Iowa border. These are two beers I would buy every trip to the store. The milk stout is reminiscent to Odell’s Lugene (dare I say slightly better) and Resurrection is another IPA on the growing list of hoppy beers I would slam all day regardless of the ABV.
New Glarus Brewing Company – Serendipity: Fruit beers get kind of a bad rap. Plenty of beer snobs out there turn their nose up at them and write them off as girly beers and wouldn’t be caught dead with it in their snifter. I’m all for it, cause that just means more for me. Serendipity took the edge for my favorite New Glarus beer over Strawberry Rhubarb, Raspberry Tart and Apple Ale. Why? Because it’s just so damn good. Sweet without being too sweet with just the right amount of tartness to even it out. Easily one of the best fruit beers you could ever hope to find.
Russian River Brewing Company – Pliny the Elder: Beer nerds/snobs across the world just took a collective gasp. It’s 2015 and you JUST tried Pliny for the first time in 2014? Well yeah, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, plus many more will get their first taste in 2015- so calm down. Some beers just aren’t that easy to get a hold of, especially when you don’t have much for trade bait. 2013 saw me getting my hands on Abrasive, Heady Topper, and Zombie Dust for the first time- so each year in scratching off beers from my bucket list whenever feasible to do so.
Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout
Surly’s Darkness (2013)
Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout
Goose Island’s Proprietor’s BCBS
Cigar City’s White Oak Jai Alai
Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA
Cycle’s Cream & Sugar Please
Green Bench’s Colliding Galaxies
Empyrean’s Imperial Mango IPA
Short’s Strawberry Short’s Cake
Crooked Stave’s St. Bretta
Modern Monks’ Chocolate Stout
Revolution’s Anti-Hero IPA
Benson’s Original Cinn
Best New Nebraska Brewery: Ploughshare Brewing Company
Nebraska Brewery Spotlight:
Benson Brewery – Benson has been open for a few years now, but it wasn’t until this year that I really started paying attention to what they were doing. They are right in the heart of a stellar beer scene with awesome beer bars like Krug Park, Jake’s Cigars & Spirits, and Beercade. Plus they are only a hop skip and a jump away from another brewery doing interesting work, Infusion Brewing Company. However, Benson gets the edge because (1) they have an awesome menu of delicious food, and (2) they have kick ass beer. Their capacity is small so their beer can still only be found at the brewpub, but what they’re building a list of awesome beers. Their Brewer’s Duet is one of the best coffee stouts I’ve ever had (and it’s just recently gone Nitro), plus their small batch special releases like their Original Cinn (cinnamon apple wheat ale) was a thing of beauty.
On to 2015 we go, hopefully equally as full of awesome beers as 2014 was!