Your Top Beers for 2012

My top lagers would be Sierra Nevada Summerfest and Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest they are good but not amazing.

at least one lager will be on my list once I have completed the process of assembling said list — it may be a lonesome appearance, though.

big and dark:
the bruery black tuesday 2011
GI BCS coffee (2012 January release)
GI BCS 2012

Bell’s Hopslam
3F zombie dust
Half Acre Double Daisy Cutter

These abbreviations are doing me in. What is BCBS and BCS? Also GI and RRBC?

Bourbon County Brand Stout or Bourbon County Stout by
Goose Island Beer Co.
Russian River Brewing Company

Allagash Coolship Red
Allagash Coolship Resurgam
Dogfish Head Brewery Ale Noble Rot

A number of sours too long to list but the surprise beer this year was Goose Island Madame Rose. Just awesome stuff.

Hopslam was my favorite hoppy beer of the year. First time I have had it and am waiting to see it appear sometime this month.

As for bigger beers, I really liked the Goose Island Cherry Rye and the 2006 Dark Lord.

How many real lagers do you guys drink? I bet the answer is close to zero. Most large brewery lagers get an extra day to ferment, maybe a week of extra aging, and that’s about it. Hardly a real lager. Even the big brewers in Munich do a crappy job (BTW, all but Augustiner are brewed in the same brewery). Real lagers are incredibly rare, particularly in the U.S., and anything from Europe is likely to be a) made by a large industrial brewery (see above) and b) damaged on the trip over here (heat damaged, skunky, and/or old). I didn’t have a lager on my list because I never include my own beers, and I didn’t taste any other lagers that were great (and I try every local lager I can find). Last year I had several, but then I spent three weeks in Bohemia/Bavaria last year.

I am a bit spoiled, as I represent a few breweries from the Bavarian Alps that make pretty thrilling lagers (Innstadt Brauerei from Passau and the Abbey Schlagl in Muhlviertal produce superb lagers for example - both breweries produce less than 30,000 barrels a year) and this year I am bringing in three new breweries from Poland that produce terrific pilseners -

I don’t think people realize how hard it is to produce a great lager - Here in the Midwest we have a few craft brewers doing a credible job with Lagers - Surly in Minneapolis is now producing a pretty authentic Helles and Randy Sprecher in Milwaukee does a great job with his lagers (Randy’s Dunkel is world class) -

And to me - these are the true brewing art - anyone can over-hop an ale - but to produce a balanced Pilsener with just the right jump and flavor profile is to me one of the great treasures of brewing -

Heady Topper, Alchemist
1996 Rose de Gambrinus, Cantillon
Temptation, Russian River
Oude Gueuze, Tilquin

Here are the American beers that impressed me greatly -

FLAT 12 BIERWERKS - El Diablo Blanco Roble


ALE ASYLUM - Hopalicious IPA

O’SO BREWING - Dank Imperial Red Ale








SHORT BREWING - Huma Lupa Licious IPA

WILD ONION BREWING - Hopslayer Double IP

DRAGONMEAD BREWERY - Under the Kilt Wee Heavy Scottish Ale


NEW GLARIS BREWING - Two Woman Country Lager


POTOSI BREWING - Pure Malt Cave Ale

TITLETOWN BREWING - Titletown Pilsner

URBAN CHESTNUT BREWING - Zwickel Unfiltered Lager

And the best American Lager I tasted this year …

SCHELLS Wet Hop Pilsener -

Would people object to a Top 100 list, or is that too much? I’m only about 2/3 through last year’s “What BEER …” thread, and I’m already at 31 beers; and I still have my Belgium/Germany trip to consider, too.

I could probably struggle to whittle it down to my Top 50, if folks simply won’t be interested in a Top 100.


I’d be interested in a top 100.

Whew! O.K… Done compiling the list. As it turns out, I was able to keep it to 64 beers. Instead of pare it down to 50, or artificially plump it up to 75 or 100, I’m just going to keep it at 64.

My list, in no particular order, is as follows, below. I made this list by going through the following threads:

  • “What BEER…”
  • “Kernel Brewery”
  • “Gueuzes/Lambics”
  • “Beer Lover’s Sojourn in Belgium and Germany”
  • “2 Days of Heaven … at Akkurat Bar in Stockholm”
  • “Beechwood Offline”

That means there’s almost certainly worthy beers that did not make this list, solely b/c I never made public note of having tasted them — yes, even incredibly excellent beers can get lost in my memory.

Sorry for the schizophrenic nature of this list — it would simply be too much work to organize it, so I thank you for your patience.

Any beers marked with an * are beers that I had never tasted prior to 2012 (*’s for vintage-dated beers are vintage-specific).

I’ve inserted some comments here and there. Without further ado …

  1. Surly – “Furious” IPA ---- one of my top 3 single IPA’s
  2. Magic Rock Brewing Co. - “Human Cannonball” DIPA * ---- incredibly well-made American-style English DIPA
  3. Magic Rock Brewing Co. - “Rapture Red Hop Ale” *
  4. Magic Rock Brewing Co. - “Cannonball” IPA * — one of the best American-style English IPA’s I’ve had
  5. Magic Rock Brewing Co. - “Magic 8 Ball” Black IPA * ---- the best Black IPA I’ve ever had.
  6. Jolly Pumpkin – “Noel de Calabaza” (2010 bottling) * ---- A perfect beer, imo.
  7. Mikkeller – “Nelson Sauvignon” * ---- A near-perfect beer, imo, and possibly the best Mikkeller I’ve ever tasted
  8. Aecht Schlenkerla - Urbock Rauchbier ---- liquid bacon; perfect breakfast beer.
  9. Spezial – Lagerbier Rauchbier ---- lighter and more crisp than the Schlenkerla brews
  10. The Kernel – “100 Centennial” IPA * ---- The Kernel’s 100th batch; superb American-style DIPA
  11. Southern Tier - Imperial Oatmeal Stout *
  12. Ballast Point – “Sculpin” IPA ---- amazing stuff.
  13. Browar Pinta – “Imperium Atakuje” Imperial IPA * ---- excellent American-style Polish DIPA; I might have been the first person in the world to publicly taste this beer, as the round I bought for me, Ashley, and our buddy Z were the first pints pulled from the world-release cask at the Omerta bar in Kracow.
  14. 2011 Harviestoun - “Ola Dubh” Special 12 Year Reserve Ale *
  15. Bell’s – “Oberon” Hefeweizen
  16. Timothy Taylor – “Landlord” Strong Pale Ale
  17. Fuller’s – “Past Masters” Double Stout *
  18. Rooster’s – “Londinium” Coffee Porter * ---- these guys are my second-favorite Yorkshire brewery, behind Magic Rock.
  19. Samuel Smith – Wheat Beer ---- good enough to more than hold its own amongst the best of its German counterparts
  20. Surly - “Bender” Oatmeal Nut Brown ale *
  21. Summit – “Saga” IPA * ---- new brew from these guys; nice, citrusy IPA; much better than their normal IPA, for my preferences.
  22. Bell’s – “Two-Hearted Ale” IPA
  23. Maui Brewing – “Big Swell” IPA ---- cherry on top that it comes in a can
  24. Bear Republic – “Racer 5” IPA ---- c’mon, you didn’t think I wouldn’t, did you!?!
  25. Port Brewing – “Mongo” DIPA ---- probably my favorite DIPA; yes, even more than PtE
  26. Stone - Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers * ---- odd, unique, and very interesting.
  27. 2010 Tilquin - Oude Gueuze * ---- immediately launches itself into my top 5 gueuze producers
  28. Haandbrygerriet - “Sur Megge” (Sour Bitch) * ---- From Norway. Very excellent.)
  29. The Kernel Brewery - “Summit” IPA *
  30. The Kernel Brewery - India Brown Ale * ---- my gut tells me this is in my Top 10 beers of the year; amazing stuff; a perfect beer, to my palate.
  31. The Kernel Brewery - “Citra” IPA *
  32. Cropton Brewery - “Blackout” Porter
  33. St. Feuillien – Saison ---- it’s a perfect beer, imo.
  34. 2012 Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar Peated Oak Aged Embrasse * ---- unique, very good, and I’m curious to see how it will age.
  35. Brewdog -“Dead Pony Club” CA Pale Ale * ---- amazing how hoppy and well-balanced this brew is, especially at only 3.8%
  36. 2012 Brouwers Verzet - Oud Bruin * ---- the most intensely sour Oud Bruin I’ve ever had. Phenomenal stuff.
  37. Open Baladin - “Ducale” * ---- Italian microbrew; made in the dark Belgian strong ale style; excellent.
  38. De Cam - Oude Lambiek (Jan. 2009 bottling) *
  39. Barley John’s - “Old 8” Porter ---- I love this beer so much.
  40. 2007 Cantillon – “Iris” *
  41. Girardin - Gueuze Girardin (black label)
  42. Cantillon - Gueuze (Febr. 3, 2012 bottling) *
  43. The Kernel Brewery – “Nelson Sauvin, Citra” IPA *
  44. The Kernel Brewery – “S.C.C.A.NS.” IPA *
  45. The Kernel Brewery – “S.C.G.A.NS.” IPA * ---- slightly preferred this to the “S.C.C.A.NS.”, which is also excellent.
  46. The Kernel Brewery – “London Imperial Brown Stout – London 1856” ---- possibly the best Imperial Stout I’ve ever had; to my palate, a perfect beer.
  47. The Kernel Brewery – Export Stout “London 1890” ---- another entry my favorite English brewery.
  48. 1997 Drie Fonteinen – Oude Gueuze *
  49. Port Brewing - “Wipeout” IPA — one of my favorite single IPA’s
  50. 2011 De Cam - Oude Framboise * ---- insanely awesome raspberry lambic
  51. 2011 De Cam - Oude Kriek (tank sample) * ---- totally nuts! One of the best Oude Krieks I’ve ever had, if not the best.
  52. 20?? De Cam – {Special Fruit Lambic} * ---- not yet released; De Cam’s brewer wouldn’t even tell me what it was; however, I can tell you that it was absolutely amazing.
  53. 2011 Tilquin – Oude Gueuze “A l’ancienne” * ---- seriously serious stuff right here.
  54. 2005 Cantillon – “Lou Pepe” Gueuze *
  55. Tilquin – Faro * ---- best Faro I tasted while in Belgium, and ever
  56. Tilquin – Gueuze * ---- practically lived on this and the Tilquin Faro while at the Delerium Café in Brussels.
  57. Stone – “Ruination” DIPA ---- one of my favorite DIPA’s; love that Stone manages to keep this sub-8% abv.
  58. Klosterbrau – Schwarzbier * ---- either the best, or second-best, Schwarzbier I’ve ever had.
  59. 2008 Cantillon – Lambic Kriek *
  60. 2000 Cantillon – Lambic Kriek *
  61. 1997 Cantillon – Gueuze 100% Lambic *
  62. 1998 Cantillon – Gueuze 100% Lambic * ---- insane; perfect beer.
  63. 2001 De Cam – Oude Geuze * ---- first time with this producer, and the beer that inspired me to seek them out for a brewery visit while in Belgium.
  64. Alpine - “Nelson” Rye IPA * ---- friggin’ fantastic stuff! I understand why this is to Bud what Racer 5 is to me. You didn’t think I’d leave this one off, did ya, Bud!?! [grin.gif]

Duchess du Bourgogne (sp?)
Saison duPont
Ephemera (with some bottle age)
Firestone Double Jack
Pliny the Elder (Younger didn’t make it to PA this year, as far as I can tell)
Troegs Nugget Nectar
Troegs Scratch Series (the number escapes me)
Firestone Parabola

Did not open yet, but should contend - DFH Bitches Brew

Do not “get”/appreciate, especially for the price - Sculpin; could be a freshness issue, but it has never blown me away.

Hmm, about 90% of my beer consumption this year was local. There was a rare Goose Island, 3 Floyd’s, or Lagunitas, but almost everything else was from MI. Making a New Year’s resolution to branch out a bit more.

  1. Bell’s This One Goes to 11
  2. Founder’s Breakfast Stout
  3. New Holland Dragon’s Milk (on tap, not the bottled version)
  4. 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust
  5. Bell’s Hopslam
  6. Bell’s Oberon

Bockor Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge
Goose Island Madame Rose
Three Floyds/Half Acre Shewolf
Three Floyds Broo Doo
Bell’s Oracle
Bell’s Hopslam

In no particular order, they would be:

Ballast Point El Dorado
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout
Three Floyds Zombie Dust
Westvleteren XII

I should add that my list include only new discoveries for 2012.

You better not have buddy, after all I did to get you fresh growlers of the stuff neener by the way Brian, you didn’t drink enough new stuff this year. [cheers.gif]