Monday, March 03, 2014

My Best Beers in America

If you follow this blog at all, you probably know that every year I seek out beers I have not had on Zymurgy's Best Beer in America list. Sometimes I even tell you about the beers and/or my progress (see I voted for the list a couple years ago, but missed the voting last year.

I actually voted for this year's list a couple days ago. I even posted on the SheppyBrew Facebook Wall that I would share my vote ... so here we go.

It was not easy to come up with my 20 favorite beers, and after I posted the vote, I kept telling myself things like "Oh, I really should have added this beer". Or "gosh, that beer is one I could have voted for as well". If I were to vote tomorrow, this list would be very different.

You will notice a strong bias for Colorado Beers in this list. Actually, I tried to pick beers / breweries that would be somewhat well-known across the country, or I probably would have add more Colorado beers from tiny little Denver-area breweries.

My Number 1 Beer

The exception for trying to stay with nationally well-known beers was my #1 beer:  Copper Kettle's Mexican Chocolate Stout. I first had this beer at one of the Brewer's Pavilion presentations at the Thursday Night Session of 2012 GABF. It is one of the few beers in all the years I've been to GABF that really made me say "wow, that is awesome". It is a rich chocolate beer with 3 types of Mexican peppers and a bit of cinnamon. I do realize that this is not something that everyone will like (my wife doesn't care for it at all), but I think this is perfectly done. I am pretty sure you have to be in the Denver area to get this beer. If you are ever visiting, make it a point to visit Copper Kettle, and DEMAND a taste of this beer.

I know my number 1 beer won't make the list, but the rest have a decent chance, I think. In no particular order:

Odell Brewing Company

Odell Brewing Company got quite a bit of love from me this year. I probably would have even added one or two more, but I figured 3 from one brewery was probably already more than their fair share:

Odell Runoff Red IPA ... Generally speaking, I love the "West-Coast Red" style of beer. It is IPA hoppy with just a bit more malt character. I think this one is the best Hoppy Reds I've ever had.

Odell Myrcenary Double IPA ... I actually reviewed this beer last August. Loved it. Think it is my favorite double IPA. In my opinion, better than Pliny.

Odell Mountain Standard Double Black IPA ... Of course, I am also a fan of the Black IPA. I know some people are not. I think more people would be if they had great ones like Mountain Standard. I first had this beer at Fortober Fest in 2012. Do you remember the Bicycle Built for 7?

New Belgium

New Belgium is the biggest Colorado Craft brewery, and I probably unfairly stay away from lots of their beers just because I do tend to gravitate to the little breweries. A couple of their beers I do drink over and over, though.

New Belgium La Folie ... I love sour beers, and one of the first I ever had is still one of my favorite. Every year, I pick up a couple bombers to enjoy on special occasions. I actually have a 2013 bottle in my fridge right now. I looked, but was shocked to not find a picture of La Folie on this blog.

New Belgium 1554 Black Lager ... I only just realized that they changed the name from 1554 Enlightened Black Ale to 1554 Black Lager on their website. I do remember being confused that they called it an ale when they pretty freely shared that it was brewed with a lager yeast. Anyway, there is just something about this beer that I love. It is, of course, on my Colorado 6 Pack post.

Dry Dock Brewing Company

Well, ok. Dry Dock probably does not have a national enough presence either to actually get beers on this list either, but they are growing so fast, and they win GABF medals every year, so I think it is just a matter of time, so I did cast a couple votes for them.

Dry Dock Vanilla Porter ... I used to really like Breckenridge Brewery's. But Dry Dock's is better.

Dry Dock Apricot Blonde ... My wife LOVES this beer, and I have to admit, it is a good one. If you like apricot beers, you need to try this one.

Oskar Blues

These guys are growing so fast, it is ridiculous. When you have their beers, you know why, though.

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's India Pale Ale ...I've said it before. I'm sure I'll probably share it again. This is my perfect camping beer. I love sipping a tall-boy can by the camp fire. This is another of the beers on my Colorado 6 Pack post.

Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils ... This is actually one of those beers that you can give to a non-craft beer fan to move them over to our side. But, I still think it is a wonderful beer for those of us who appreciated a well-crafted flavorful beer as well.

Other Colorado Breweries

I told you I have a Colorado bias. I try to drink local. I live in Colorado. It just makes sense. And, keep in mind I would have added even more Colorado beers had I not been trying (for the most part) to stay with breweries with some sort of national awareness.

TommyKnocker Hop Strike Black IPA ... I've already mentioned that I love the Black IPA. TommyKnocker's was the first Black IPA I ever had, and I remember it just blowing me away. I will always have a place in my heart for this beer. This is another of the beers on my Colorado 6 Pack post.

Left Hand Milk Stout ... Ummm.... Duh! Of course this belongs on the list. It is so good on both nitro and on carbon dioxide. This is another of the beers on my Colorado 6 Pack post.

Boulder Beer Company's Flashback India Brown Ale ... I like the American Brown Ales that use lots of American hops. This one is the best of that style that I have had. This is another of the beers on my Colorado 6 Pack post.

Avery Brewing Company Ellie's Brown Ale ... But then, I like more traditional malty browns as well, and Ellie's Brown is awesome. It has been reviewed on this blog. See Drinking Ellie's Brown Ale.

The Rest of the Country

I warned you that there was a Colorado bias in my voting, but yes, there is great beer outside Colorado.

Stone's Sublimely Self Righteous ... To be honest, I think this is my favorite black IPA, even though it is not a Colorado beer. Stone really knows how to do hops.

Arrogant Bastard ...Of course, I had to include Arrogant Bastard in my list. For heaven's sake, I have a whole category of articles on this blog about my fascination with AB. See Sheppy's Blog: Arrogant Bastard.

Bell's Brewery Two Hearted Ale ... This IPA always ranks high on the Zymgury list, and unlike some of the others that are always near the top, I think this one totally deserves it.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack ... Yes, still another Black IPA on my list. What can I say? I really like the style when it is well-made. You can read my review of this beer at Firestone Walker Wookey Jack. (what an original title, right?)

Samuel Adams Noble Pils ... Sometimes I feel like craft beer fans are not supposed to like Boston Beer company anymore, and for the most part I don't drink a whole lot of their beers unless I am at a restaurant with not much of a choice. But, I love. LOVE the Noble Pils. The hop profile is so awesome on this beer.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgium Red ... Actually, I think if I were to spend more time in Wisconsin, New Glarus would dominate my voting for this list. I don't get a chance to try very many of their beers very often, but they never disappoint.

So, what do you think? If you voted, what sorts of beers did you vote for? If you didn't vote, what beers would you vote for if you did vote?

Look for the results in the July/August issue of Zymurgy. Like always, I'll be sharing them here as well.

Go Blackhawks!

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