My Best Beer Discoveries of 2013

I realize that I hadn’t been writing as much lately (What an understatement!), and will try to atone for it in 2014. As I head on the road to writing more frequently again, I begin with a short rundown of some of the best beers I’ve tried, written about, and failed to write about in the past year.

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My favorite India Pale Ales and Double/Imperial IPAs of 2013 (clockwise, in no particular order):

Bear Republic Racer 5

Brewdog Hardcore 

Yeastie Boys Digital 

Stone RuinTen – I had this at our end of the year beer and food pairing dinner at Tipsy Pig. A couple of months old, but still nicely hopped. Strong and boozy, it’s the Ruination we all know and love, but on steroids.

Brewdog Chaos Theory

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My best rediscoveries of 2013 were beers that I’ve tried before but tasted and appreciated in a new light in 2013:

Weihenstephaner on tap – This was nothing short of amazing pulled fresh from the draught. Having this for happy hour at my Bangkok hotel was a highlight of the trip in itself.

Westvleteren XII – Tried this first through biermeister Mags, when he shared a previously opened bottle which he had recorked. Lucky to have tried a freshly opened bottle through beertender Jim. According to many, this is the number 1 beer in the world.

Katipunan Craft Indio Pale Ale on tap – Much hoppier and fresher than the bottled version. Pictured is their Dear Fred collaboration with Yardstick coffee, though.

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My favorite new beers of 2013

Nos. 6 – 10 (Clockwise from top left, unranked):

Chatoe Rogue Roguenbier Rye Ale

Craftpoint Brewing Liberation Pale Ale

Deschutes Abbys 2011 Reserve

Mikkeller Porter

Mikkeller Beer Hop Breakfast

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My top 5 of 2013:

These were the best beers that I tried for the first time last year, and ranked accordingly (1-5, left to right, top to bottom). Unfortunately, my inexcusable writer’s block has prevented me from composing more in-depth write ups for these beauties 

1. Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Sumpin – Lagunitas does make some fragrant beers. This is a “filtered pale wheat ale” which is a cross between an IPA and an American Wheat. Amazing stuff.

2. Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – This is crap beer at its finest, literally brewed with weasel/civet coffee beans. Best imperial stout and best coffee beer to have honored my palate. I wish we could have some more here.

3. Deus Brut des Flanders

4. Schneider Weiss x Brooklyn Brewery Tap 5 Hopfen-Weisse

5. To-Ol Black Maria – Easily the best Black IPA / India Black Ale / Cascadian Dark Ale that I’ve enjoyed. It swings more toward the IPA-side of the fence rather than the imperial stoutlike Black IPAs I’d previously tasted.

These five brews were nothing short of exceptional, so I apologize for the lack of detailed entries on most of them (which I hope to remedy in the following days). One trend I did notice though was that all five beers were hybrids of a sort, or of a rare style. It’s a testament to the creativity of craft brewers and a sign that my own taste continues to evolve. A year or so ago, my list would have been comprised of India Pale Ales alone. Incidentally, though, all my top five were well-hopped, aside from the Deus. So yes, I definitely am still a hophead at heart.

Here’s to 2014: to expanding horizons, refining tastes, and trying new things! Happy new year!

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