For my Best Beers of 2012, I settled on the idea of best beers that I had never had before. This will make it easy for this list to be ever evolving each year. This has been remarkable year for beer and likely one that will never be topped. For that reason, I ran the list up to 15 and even still had a hard time excluding some. So without further ado…
15. Founders Bolt Cutter – This was their 15th Anniversary release. Great story behind it, which I encourage you to read. Had this on tap on our epic Michigan Beercation at the end of the 2012. Really nice hopiness, super full body. Looking forward to aging the bottle I picked up for a couple of years.
14. Surly Wet – This fall was the first time I had ever enjoyed a wet hopped beer (hops added fresh off the vine) and I can honestly say I am hooked. You can actually taste the freshness of the hop present in the beer. I will now look forward to fall for this amazing style; this was my second favorite fresh hopped brew of the year.
13. 3 Floyd’s Dreadnaught – Double IPAs are one of my favorite styles of beer, really smack you in the face hopiness, bold, flavorful. This was one of my top 2 for the year for this style. Actually had a very hard time choosing, which was my favorite. I always recommend the side by side for these brews and this beer won the second blinded Double IPA Taste Off 2 out of a less impressive line-up.
12 . Surly Furious – Actually enjoyed this brew a number of times this year. Was able to try it on tap on a visit to Winona, MN. Had a number of cans throughout the year and it even took home the gold in the Great Taste of Cottage Grove. This is the best of the best for your standard IPA.
11. Bells Third Coast Old Ale – A brew I had passed over a number times while trying to decide on a sixer at the store. Had this beer for the first time at a Bells tap takeover in the spring and it was one of the most impressive out of a group that didn’t really blow me away. Had it again on tap fresh from the source on our Michigan Beercation. I will now be buying this beer annually and some of it will find its way into the cellar.
10. Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus (2006) – This doppelbock was picked up by Jim Agate. Aged an amazingly long 6 years! I am not usually big on doppelbocks, but this one had no alcohol warmth and it checks in at 14%. Almost a brandy-like nose. Not sure when I will ever have a beer this old again.
9. Stone Ruination IPA – This and Dreadnaught were my favorite double IPA’s of the year. Hard to distinguish, which was better, but this one was my personal favorite when we did the Double IPA Taste Off 1 and it fended off some heavy hitters.
8. 3 Floyd’s BrooDoo – This was my favorite wet hopped beer of the year. I even ended up buying this one a little later than I would have liked. Remember, when it comes to wet hopped, drink as soon as possible.
7. Goose Island Juliet – I have developed an extra special love for sours because I understand the love that is required to brew one of these beers. And also, so many breweries cannot do them right. I got to enjoy this beer alongside my #1a beer of the year the night before the Great Taste of the Midwest and the two made a perfect pair. This beer is an amazing 8% for a style which tends to hover closer to 6% usually. The body is perfect and the aging was done just right.
6. Founders Backwoods Bastard – I got to enjoy this on tap at Founders on our Michigan Beercation. This Wee Heavy has perfect balance. I tend to find sweetness off-putting, but it really lingered towards the front. The mouth had great richness and then slowly faded away rather than hanging around. Not sure how Founders managed that. This will be another annual cellar addition.
5. 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust – I have been up and down on this beer all year. I got to drink it on tap in early fall for the first time and I was definitely not blown away by the supposed #13 beer on Beer Advocate. Also got to try again, and this time extremely fresh, on the Michigan Beercation while sitting behind the brewery by the railroad tracks in the freezing cold. This APA is perfect and I encourage you to take any chance you get to drink this beer. Won in a landslide for the APA Taste Off.
4. Bells Expedition Stout – I picked up a sixer of this beer for the first time in 2012 surprisingly enough. Upon my first taste I could not believe the balance Bells is able to achieve with this beer, which is something I preach with stouts. It was a contestant in the Great Taste of Cottage Grove and for me, it was hands down my favorite. A huge burst of flavor and then all balance. I was able to score some 2011 on the Michigan Beercation and once again, another annual cellar addition.
I will preface by saying that trying to rank the top 3 in order is basically impossible. I would have to drink all of these side-by-side to pick a favorite and that will probably never happen in my lifetime nor would I really want it to.
1c. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) – This was the first barrel aged stout I had ever drank. I got to enjoy this during Madison Beer Week in early May. I was completely blown away and this will definitely be a beer drinking moment I never forget. Monster bourbon flavor up front, that slowly balances out. The first one ever holds a special place.
1b. Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead the 5th – This was actually the 4th or 5th barrel aged stout I had this year and the one that is freshest in my mind. Sipped on this brew at the Dark Horse Brewery on Michigan Beercation. From what I recall, it was probably the smoothest of the top 3, but as I prefaced, impossible to distinguish. Another beer drinking moment I will never forget: enjoying this beer with our tour guide Miles.
1a. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS) – Got to sip on this beer for free at Madison’s the night before the Great Taste of the Midwest. Being able to have this beer alongside the #7 Juliet made for the absolute best beer pairing I could ever imagine. I know for a fact I will never be sipping on two better beers simultaneously ever again. I was able to score quite a few bottle of this and have had a couple since, but none that have lived up to my first tasting. I look forward to aging these bottles so I can once again enjoy the perfection.
What a great year and one that I don’t expect to ever top. Gotta say I am already looking forward to what 2013 will bring!
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