Beer Lists

TGoF’s Year in Beer – 2014

IMG_5433Well, 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! (more…)

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Collaboration 12 Pack (Part 2)

I won’t spend a lot of time hyping up this post. Most likely if you’ve been to my blog before you’ve probably already read my part 1 review of this collaboration 12 pack and just want to see how it all wraps up in the end. And if you haven’t been to the blog before then I’d simply suggest heading over to the part 1 post anyway as I’ve listed reviewed the beers in the order I drank them- not that you need the background information in order to understand these reviews. Either way, here are six more reviews of beers contained within Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Collaboration 12 Pack!

beercamp_electricrayElectric Ray (India Pale Lager)
Collaboration Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company
Review: If it looks like an IPA, taste like an IPA it must be an IPA right? Apparently not if you’re Electric Ray, which according to the packaging is an IPL (India Pale Lager). I know right, potato patado- it’s hoppy and it’s amber/gold in color, it’s pretty much an IPA. Very thin head on the pour and smells a bit like old hops. Taste is quite bitter on the front end which screams IPA, but then the malt and smooth lager characteristics kick in on the back end. Easily one of the hoppiest offerings in the box which was quite welcome from some of the other ho hum offerings I started off with. And given how low my expectations were as I dug into the final six beers in the pack this was a much needed boost for me.   (more…)

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Collaboration 12 Pack Review (Part 1)

beercamp_sierranevadaI like Sierra Nevada- but I do not get particularly excited about their beers. Given that they are pretty readily available throughout most of the United States their beers are not spectacularly hard to track down. That has never stopped me from enjoying their Pale Ale and Ruthless Rye IPA on a semi-regular basis. Sierra Nevada no doubt makes good beer- I’ve yet to be blown away by anything, but they make damn good beer. The last time I got excited about something Sierra Nevada put out was a 12 pack of four different IPAs they had worked on- the pack left a lot to be desired. Again, none of the beers were “bad,” but they were plain and uninspired- except for the Snow Wit, I did not care for that one much at all.

By now though I’m sure everyone familiar with craft beer has heard of their latest mixed 12 pack which has been making the rounds both as a packaged product and as a touring festival. The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp of 2014 this time has taken 12 different breweries to collaborate on 12 different beers- each brewery contributing a style and working with the folks at Sierra Nevada to create the mixed pack. These have been making the rounds long enough that I’m sure there’s been plenty of time for people to dig into the beers so that’s what I’m gonna talk about now- six at a time. (more…)

TGoF’s 2014 Beer Outlook

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In terms of beer, 2013 was a HELL of a year for me. I got the chance to try a ridiculous amount of new beers, which compared to a lot of more hardcore beer nerds out there is probably barely a drop in the bucket. So looking forward to what’s in store for the new year I wanted to touch on some new breweries that have come to my attention and other beers I’m looking forward to trying to track down this year.

Before that though I want to take a moment to highlight some of my favorite beers I was able to try for the first time in 2013 and hopefully won’t be the last I see of them. (more…)

10 More Craft Beers I’m Dying To Try

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Browsing the internet is the worst possible thing for me to do because I’m constantly running into awesome stuff that steals hours and hours of my time until I’ve lost all opportunities to be productive. Not even 24 hours after I posted my initial list of beers I’m dying to try did I find a ton more that started making me more than a little thirsty. Granted I already had some picks that I didn’t include on the list so the more I found the more I justified the need for another list.

Trying so many different beers tends to be quite the expensive habit/hobby/obsession/leisure activity, but discovering something truly special that knocks you on your feet becomes incredibly addictive and I’m constantly in search of those beers that make me redefine what I look for in the beers I drink. I also have to thank any number of people on Instagram/Twitter (I’m @CrummyLuke on both) for posting all these delicious looking beverages and fueling my already immensely burning fire for craft beer. I’ve taken to posting all the beers I’ve tried as well, although mg photography skills leave a little to be desired. You will notice that I tend to repeat brewerys on between my lists- the reason being I tend to try to keep a narrow vision and also try not to reach too high and aim at stuff that is a little more readily available without extraordinary measures. Also keeping a narrow vision keeps me from being overwhelmed by the ground I need to cover (well more overwhelmed than usual anyway) and when I say I look at options readily available I mean stuff that I can at least get without selling my organs on the black market.

Also a quick update on my previous list of beers I wanted to try I was able to get my hands on Stone Brewing Company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale (Along with their IPA, Levitation Ale and Pale Ale), though this was of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale variety and I gotta say that it along with all the others were very impressive. There is quite a bit going on with every one of their beers and I can see why they are so popular. Unfortunately that is the only update for the list that I have. So without further ado here is ten more beers that I can hopefully get my hands on soon.

Surly Brewing Company Coffee Bender/Bender – I have a weird relationship with anything involving coffee- the smell draws me in, but the taste is what usually drives me away. If it’s in my beer I’m a little more sympathetic to an extent and reading/seeing so much love on Surly Brewing Company’s beers lately I can’t help but be curious. Given that I’m due for a road trip here soon, Minnesota is looking even more attractive to me right now. Since my reservations about the intense coffee flavors I’ve heard Coffee Bender has I’ve lumped it in with Surly’s Bender which apparently has hints of coffee, but I’m assuming will be a better introduction to the style of Surly than diving right into the Coffee Bender.

Three Floyds Brewing Company Gumballhead – At this point I could make one of these lists about everything Three Floyds has to offer, so I’m really just trying to focus on the ones I’m particularly attracted to. When I started writing these I started wondering why I should justify picks having no experience with anything Three Floyds or any brewery I’ve never tried and the simple uninteresting answer is based simply on the love I see online and reading about the popularity. Given you don’t see people flocking to the store to buy Bud Light to the point of selling out I think I’m on the right track.

Bells Brewery Inc Hopslam – I didn’t include this on my initial list, though I almost did and since then I even took a trip about an hour away across my state border to try and secure myself some of this having not called ahead of time. What I quickly learned is that I grossly underestimated the popularity of this one as I drove to secure this for myself based on a Facebook post saying the store had some about a week or two after the post and once I was there I was informed it was sold out within 20 minutes of said Facebook post. Needless to say (but I will anyway) the search continues. Update: Since initially writing this post I came into possession of a couple of bottles of this deliciously hoppy ale. While I am on board with the quality of the beer I don’t know that I can confidently say as of yet that it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Don’t misunderstand though, I really believe that it got even tastier after the second time I cracked one open.

Surly Brewing Company Furious/Abrasive Ale – I just started homebrewing with a friend of mine just over a year ago and I also have been seeing a trend of people on beer trading forums/Instagram ferociously looking for anything they have to offer so I did a little more research. I really dug the history of the brewery that the site has posted and really highlights what most beer lovers and aspiring brewers hope for so Surly and their whole lineup has jumped high up on my wishlist. I grouped Furious with Abrasive as I am continuing to grow my love for IPAs and it only seemed right to include both of Surly’s offerings especially because they both are raved about online.

Three Floyd’s Brewing Company Alpha King – Aaaaand the Three Floyds love continues- Ok I promise I will try to make this the last repeat on this list so its not so boring and predictable. Truth is Three Floyds is probably my biggest obsession at this point and their Zombie Dust/Gumballhead/Alpha King are the three that I have my crosshairs on that I’m also starting to see in my dreams on a nightly basis. I don’t know if this is all setting me up for disappointment, but only getting my greedy paws on this and opening one up will end the mystery and possibly be the start of a sultry beer affair.

The Alchemist Heady Topper – Maybe this will show just how out of touch I am or removed from where all the good craft beer happenings are going on, but I had no knowledge of The Alchemist or their beer, but this one in particular is littered in conversations all over the web with.people trying to get their hands on it. I mean seeing it on the Top 50 beers on Rate Beer certainly is a thing that exists, but the Black Friday esque anarchy I’ve seen online of people looking to get some is a bit more telling. I’m predicting a pretty treacherous road in front of me to get a hold of it- especially since my travel plans don’t exactly include a trip to VT or the surrounding area.  

Dogfish Head Brewing Company Aprihop – When I first started getting into craft beers it didn’t take me long to realize just how over my head I really was. The more I discover about the burgeoning popularity of craft beer the more out of touch I discover I’ve been. The community online is a bit overwhelming and everyone has different levels of knowledge and experience with all the various breweries out there. Dogfish Head is one I first learned about on a horror movie podcast of all things (Bloody Good Horror) and once I heard of them I looked up their lineup and what people had to say about their releases and it quickly became on the many many breweries with beers I can’t wait to get my hands on. Add in the fact that I’m starting to love IPAs a little more everyday and that beers infused with fruit kind of opened my curiosity for experimental styles I could not avoid including it on the list. 

Shorts Brewing Company Key Lime Pie – This is the choice that is on here if for no other reason that to be the WTF pick or the “things that make you go hmm” pick. Through google searches of strange beers, experimental beers or general craft beer searches you’re bound to find something that makes your head tilt, but at the sametime actually sound like something you want to try (unlike a Seaweed ale I stumbled across). Said to be brewed with fresh limes, milk, marshmellow cream and graham crackers that’s enough to at least get my attention. Billed a dessert beer the color and description of a nose that has hints of graham cracker crust it immediately makes me crave a Pumking- so sure, I don’t see the harm in wanting to give it a whirl.

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy By XX/XX/XX – Over the course of my education and enjoyment of craft beer since the start of my journey a lot of things have peaked my interest. Now, if I took my research to the next level and read more about the beers I want to try I’d be able to answer the next question- what is it about the Enjoy By bceers by Stone Brewing that gives it the “Brewed not to last” moniker? As it stands, it just intrigues me more and more and sometimes I enjoy not knowing every specific detail about a beer before I try it just so I can experience it from a pure place and that’s what I look forward to doing with this specific Stone brew.

The Bruery White Chocolate – I have an intense and awkwardly inexplicable love for almost anything made with white chocolate. So it ‘should’ come as no surprise that a beer called White Chocolate would get my attention. Granted the name comes from the fact that the brew is made with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans thus promting the name. The barrel aged creation also has.the style of a barely wine which in my experience hasn’t been the kindest to me, but given my willingness to try almost everything there is absolutely nothing keeping me from being excited to give this a go.

Tall Glass of Film’s Top 10 Craft Beers

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Before you dive into a list of my favorite craft beers that I’ve had the opportunity to try and would easily drink on a regular basis there’s something you should know. Even as I double checked the list i was hyper aware that the list is a bit thin and missing beers from breweries that are putting out incredible releases. The problem is I am limited to what is readily available and limited in other aspects as well, but I get out and try as much as I can when I can. In all honesty the other issue is that I’ve only really been turned on to hopping around and trying every beer in site over the last couple of years so I still have a lot of ground to cover.

In essence even as I’ve already tried a lot of different beers I still have a long way to go and you all can take the journey with me. Before I get too mushy, I need to remember this is all about beer so let’s just jump into my list of favorite craft beers.

10. New Belgium Brewing Company’s Red Hoptober – I have two things to confess- one, it would have been a lot easier to make a top five list and two, I have not had many New Belgium beers that I really love. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t “hated” anything in particular I just haven’t fallen head over heals for any of their releases. Red Hoptober is about as close as it comes and I will say that it was even closes to love when I had it out of a tap as opposed to the bottle. You’ll notice I usually have a thing for seasonals and that’s my dilemma most of the time. As a fall release it’s nice to break the slew of pumpkin beer releases with something a little hoppier and less pumpkiny.

9. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Ruthless Rye IPA – I only got to try this one recently and I’m not at all shy about including it on this list already. I’m also becomming more and more obsessed with IPAs and this is one of my favorites of the ones I’ve had as of late. It’s hoppy, with a bit of a bite, but it’s also not all that heavy to drink. Sierra Nevada doesn’t appear to be short on fans, but in all honesty this is the first one that I tried that I can’t wait to drink again.

8. Lucky Bucket Brewing Company’s Kriek – I could not resist sneaking in some local flavor on my list and as much as Lucky Bucket continues to grow on me I can’t say that any of their year round bottled releases have hooked me. I will say though that each time they release a small batch that you can try at the brewery or at local bars I always find myself going back for more. Such is the case with their sour cherry kreik that I first tried on a night out with some friends and may be my absolute favorite of their small batch releases. I look forward to seeing some of these find their way to a bottle for storage purposes or just so that I can enjoy them from the comfort of my home on a weeknight after a long day at work and don’t feel like venturing out to a large crowded bar.

7. Boulder Beer Company’s Hazed & Infused – In the last couple years I’ve attempted to try as many beers as possible whenever possible in order to expand my knowledge of beer in general, but also expose my senses to the craft of beer. I’m still working on it to this day no matter how many beers I try, but Boulder’s Hazed & Infused was one of my first forays to the liquor store in the first of many mix and match 6 packs I buy in order to try as many beers as I do and on first taste I knew this was something I really wanted to keep doing. One of the hoppier beers of the first batch I opened myself up to compared to the beers I had been drinking before is still one I pass by at the store and consider drinking again instead of sifting through for something new. I will always remember this one fondly as one that really opened up my mind to trying new beer and helped start me on my way to discovering craft beer and the many different tastes involved.

6. Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Creme Brulee Stout Of every stout I’ve tried none have come close to the sweetness of Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee Stout. Two others I considered for the list that rank among my favorites are Odell’s Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout and Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout- both of which I only tried recently and I wasn’t really prepared to add them to the list just yet. I’ve also never had Southern Tier’s Chokolat, so obviously it couldn’t be considered until that moment, but this particular choice really surprised me.

5. Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Hop Stoopid I am new to everything that is Lagunitas as they’ve only just become available locally to me and this was my very first choice when I saw it on the shelf. There’s nothing fancy about the look, but who needs fancy when what’s inside the bottle is so deliciously hoppy and complex. It sort of took me back a bit at first, but as I continued to drink it I started liking it more and more. At this point I’ve tried every other style available here (Sucks, IPA, Pils, Cappuccino Stout, Little Sumpin Wild Ale and Little Sumpin Sumpin and Maximus) and Hop Stoopid remains my favorite of the bunch, though I am fully on board the Lagunitas bandwagon.

4. Tallgrass Brewing Company’s 8-Bit Pale Ale When I first started picking beers on my regular trips to the store I passed the line of Tallgrass releases several times, almost always wanting to pick it up but holding off each time. The day finally came that I caved in and picked up the 8-Bit and I devoured the 4 pack way faster than I probably should have. The 8-Bit Pale Ale has a delicious hop character that’s got its bitterness, but is mellowed by what I perceive as a very subtle citrus taste. This is the type of beer that makes me embarrassed that I wasted so much of my early 20’s on tasteless domestic beers.

3. Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Ale I feel that there’s a bit of an unfair view on beer infused with any sort of fruit- that they are targeted more for female drinkers due to the sweetness and the fact that the majority have lower alcohol content therefore aren’t as “hardcore.” To am extent I agree they may not be the type of beer that puts hair on your chest, but sweetness in a beer doesn’t alone make it the wine cooler of craft beer. I’ve had several strawberry beers and all have their value, but Samuel Smith’s has a lineup of really tasty fruit infused beers and the Organic Strawberry Ale is particularly great. Friends I know that enjoy fruit beers believe this to be too sweet and prefer something like the Früli over this, but for my money Samuel Smith’s gives you way more bang for your buck.

2. Wells and Young’s Brewing Company’s Banana Bread Beer In my spare time I also have taken up homebrewing and I am particularly obsessed with experimenting with adding bananas to a beer, but can’t quite settle on a style. Well’s Banana Bread Beer is what I can only hope my final project turns out as once I get it done and if I tastes even close to this I will be stock piling every last bottle for myself. The brilliance of this beer to me cannot be understated as when you first sip it the taste is much darker and has the characteristics of a nut brown ale, but finishes with a delicious banana aftertaste, thus earning its name Banana Bread Beer. Of these last two choices if I was forced to drink nothing but for the rest of my life, I would indeed die as one happy beer lover.

1. Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Imperial Pumking I mentioned before how Southern Tier’s wonderful lineup of great craft beers are not available locally to me, but surrounding areas do and though it tends to be inconvenient to travel just for beer, I’m happy to do so for the Pumking. This is the beer that made me believe in love at first sip as as soon as I enjoyed my first drink of this delightful seasonal release I was hooked. I had only picked up two just in case it didn’t live up to its reputation, but when I finished the first and looked at the lone remaining bottle I was hesitant to waste it. I’ve since made one other trip during its seasonal release and along with a friend dropped almost $300 just on bottles of Pumking in one fell swoop. I have no doubt there are plenty of people who have thrown down way more than that for their favorite beer (and by all means I want to hear your stories), but since I rarely seem to buy the same beer twice anymore so I can keep trying new stuff, that was quite the commitment. Needless to say, this August I already have started making plans to do it all over again.

10 Craft Beers I’m Dying To Try

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Good beer isn’t all that hard to come by these days, especially if you know where to look. New beer can sometimes be a bit harder to track down if you feel like you’ve tried everything or start to get a little picky. It also sort of depends on your geographical location and how available today’s most popular craft breweries are to you. Where I am, the premiere brewers are scattered and few distribute here and the nearest drive to get beers from some of my favorites is anywhere from two three hours.

I love me some great beer and I’m willing to try almost anything and the following list I think conveys that. I have no idea when I’m going to get around to trying these, but I’m fairly confident that some way, somehow they will find themselves in my hands at some point and I highly anticipate being able to talk about every last one of them right here in the hopefully near future.

Dogfish Head Brewing Company 90 Minute IPA – I have developed quite the obsession with IPA’s over the last few months after being really turned off by them when I first started getting into craft beer. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the output of Dogfish Head and I could have put any one or two or three of their beers on this list, but I’m sticking with the IPA. The hoppier the better has been my motto as of late and as a double IPA I think it’s the perfect way to start off the list.

Odell Brewing Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout – Of all the beers on this list, this may be the easiest for me to get my hands on- in fact I just saw it at the store recently. Stouts aren’t really my bag, but I’m a work in progress still so I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’m a fan of Odell’s work so I can’t imagine that I’m going to be dumping this one down the sink once I finally get a change to taste it.

Boulevard Brewing Company Chocolate Ale – When I was old enough to head out to the store and buy my own beer my eyes always drifted to the Bud Light, since it was pretty much all I ever saw people drink. The first time I ventured outside that “comfort” zone the first beer I had was a Boulevard Wheat, something I immediately clung to since it was so different from what I’d grown to expect as normal. Fast forward and my horizons are so extended that I’m willing to give almost anything a go- including beer touted as tasting like chocolate. I stumbled across this after it disappeared at a local bottle shop and now I’m desperate to give it a go since o rarely see a chocolate beer that doesn’t have the color and consistency of a stout. Hoping I can track it down very soon and report back.

Stone Brewing Company Arrogant Bastard Ale – I can’t help but be intrigued to try something that as described on their website “is not good and you won’t like.” I think I’m paraphrasing a bit, but regardless it does catch my attention. With a name like Arrogant Bastard you would likely drift toward them marketing it as the best thing since sliced bread, but to go the opposite direction just makes me laugh and draws me towards it more.

3 Floyds Brewing Company Dark Lord – The white whale if sorts is 3 Floyds Dark Lord- sold once a year and exclusively at an event known as Dark Lord’s Day. Needless to say I’ve due to the beer’s inclusion on this list; I’ve never been to Dark Lord’s Day. One day I may be able to master the art of organization in order to adequately sync these events into my schedule and vacation time, but due to my procrastination affliction and my terrible planning skills I’m not sure when me and Dark Lord are ever going to acquaint ourselves with one another.

3 Floyds Brewing Company Zombie Dust – Easier to hunt down yet still out of my grasp is another beer from 3 Floyds, Zombie Dust. Having read nothing but good things about this tasty looking treat I cannot help but fantasize about the first sip from the bottle- and not to weird anyone out, but the sip I’m fantasizing about is nothing short of orgasmic. Maybe that’s setting my expectations too high and putting one’s faith in the hands of others is never entirely wise, but rave opinions abound have me biting at the bit to get my hands on a few of these babies.

Southern Tier Brewing Company
Chokolat – The vast majority of my favorite beers to try or happen to be my all time favorites, as is Southern Tier’s Pumking, are seasonal. Chokolat is a winter seasonal which aside from not being distributed in my neck of the woods creates more complex issues as to it only being available a certain time of year. Regardless, this is one I definitely intend on hunting down in the brisk winter months at some point to put in my mug in place of the traditional hot cocoa.

Cigar City Brewing Good Gourd Pumpkin Ale – Over the past few years I have really developed a taste for pumpkin beers. This is odd for me in a specific way- pumpkin, specifically the smell, makes me gag. My wife and I constantly discuss the weird fact that as picky of an eater I am and how sensitive to certain smells I am I can drink just about any beer put on front of me no matter how bizarre it may be. I’ve read plenty of good things about Cigar City’s releases and I’m pretty excited to give this a shot sometime.

Rogue Ales Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale – Okay, let me first start out by saying this is on here simply for the fact that sometimes the odder sounding the beer, the more intrigued I am to give it a shot. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rogue’s previous Voodoo Doughnut collaboration, Bacon Maple Ale, but I have a thing for beers infused with Bananas so the allure of this one is irresistible to me.

Bells Brewing Company Cherry Stout – As previously stated I tend to enjoy beers infused with just about anything within reason and I always get pretty intrigued to try any beer infused with fruit. Love them or hate them I can’t deny that the taste certain fruits give their beer can be subtle or too dominant and effect the overall enjoyment one has in the beer and I enjoy how polarizing the mashups can be. Fruit mixed in with a stout is a combo that intrigues me especially since I have yet to develop a strong love for stouts.