I got the opportunity to drink a lot of ridiculously good beers in 2013 thanks to friends, family, trading partners, and just dumb luck. You will notice this list is very sour heavy, with a good number of stouts and a few others sprinkled in. Without further ado…
20. Toppling Goliath Sosus – This beer took down a number of heavy weights in our fourth installment of the Double IPA Taste-off. I describe it as balanced perfection and the first of a few TG brews on this list
19. Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic – I cannot believe it took until 2013 to get into my first Cantillon bottle. All of their beers have a similar feel to them and the cherry was a great compliment
18. Boneyard Hop Venom – Got to try this on tap in Seattle. Very hard to compare IPA’s unless you drink them side-by-side, but I knew after the first sip, it was the best IPA I drank all year
17. BFM Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien – Enjoyed this one at the Brasserie V, one of my favorite places in Madison. Sour and oak are two things that are hard to keep balanced and BFM did it masterfully
16. New Glarus Very Sour Blackberry – I want to come clean. I have been very hard on New Glarus over the years, but they released some beers this year that changed my mind and this one headed the list. Probably the best nose of any beer I had all year
15. Crooked Stave Origins Grand Cru – Another brewery I am in love with. The whiskey barrel notes are subtle in this intense sour, but a pairing that goes really well together
14. Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia (4D) – This beer had almost 3 years on it when we opened it. It had one of the deepest, longest lasting mouths I have ever experienced. Molasses heaven!
13. Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas – This is the only beer on the list I had at my first ever Great Taste of the Midwest. Barrel was more subtle and peppers more forward. Just amazing.
12. Allagash Resurgam – I was blown away by the spontaneously fermented sours I had this year. The heat and burn you get from these brews is so unique and remarkable
11. Prairie Bomb! – I just love the pepper stout trend and this was my favorite of the bunch. The pepper was much more forward on this one with a thick base that supported them perfectly
10. Bruery Sour in the Rye with Kumquats – I am a huge fan of Bruery sours and this is my favorite to date. The kumquats liven up and make the perfect complement to the base sour.
9. Perennial Barrel Aged Sump – To quick explain this beer: the same base as Abraxas, which they barrel age and add coffee. All the Perennial stouts have a similar feel to them, but the Sump coffee and Rittenhouse barrels make this one stand above the rest
8. Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus – My first ever Cantillon enjoyed on a business trip to Toronto. I think this sums it up best: My Night with Cantillon
7. Russian River Supplication – This is another brewery I fell in love with in 2013. I had a few other wine barrel aged beers throughout the year, but none of them came even close to accomplishing what this one did. By far my favorite of the standard release “-cation” beers
6. Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout – MAPLE SYRUP IN BEER! The layers and layers of flavors in this beer is enough to make your mind explode. I think the barrel aging of this one keeps everything in check nicely
5. Russian River Beatification – This was my first ever spontaneously fermented beer and sometimes the first experience is the most memorable. There was such a unique/intense flavor I was completely blown away and will never forget it
4. Bells Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch 9000 – While technically a strong ale, this beer defies categorization. When a beer does that successfully, it is usually great. Has the feel of a stout with strong ale notes. Another beer with so many layers of flavor. Any beer putting BlackNote to shame must be remarkable
3. Lost Abbey Cable Car – One of those enigma beers I was lucky enough to try in 2013. Such an amazing dance between the sour and the oak that this beer just loses you in its beauty
2. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (2013) – Moving to the 12oz format was great. You get great acidity from the coffee that cuts through some of the intensities of the base stout. The slightly lower ABV also balances this one out. Don’t know what you could do to make BCBS any better
1. Toppling Goliath Assassin – It may not be the flashiest or the rarest of the Toppling Goliath stouts, but it is absolute perfection. I love KBBS, but it is so chalk full of flavors that it is like being on a roller coaster. This beer is more like sitting above and looking over the Grand Canyon. Such a smooth and long lasting ride. The barrel up front rolls into the deep rich chocolate in the back. The richness isn’t too sweet and goes on for what seems to be forever. I love you Toppling Goliath