2013 Year End Musings

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Another orbital period has passed, which I guess means I need to reflect on the year that was or some such thing. Since I'm terrible at choosing favorites and because it's a totally arbitrary exercise, I'll be posting my top 40 beers of the year. That might seem like a lot, but then, I could probably do a top 40 Tired Hands beer list and still have 60 of their brews that didn't make the cut (I'm pretty sure this is not an exaggeration; they put up at least 1-2 new beers a week on average and I've kept up pretty well). I drink too much is what I'm saying.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Various musings on my year in beer:

  • Trading - It continues, and a fair amount of beers on the list below came from trades, LIFs, and BIFs, but not nearly as much as you might think. It turns out that Philly is a pretty great beer town, asinine PLCB rules notwithstanding, and even the suburbs are getting in on the action these days. I doubt I'll ever reach the crazy 5 trades per month tempo that some beer dorks engage in, but I'm pretty happy with the 5-6 trades I engage in per year, and I got to try some great stuff this year because of that.
  • Wales, bro - White Whale beers are a sorta moving target. When you start to dip your toes into beer nerdery, anything popular that is rare and/or isn't distributed near you is a whale. Stuff like KBS. Then you start ticking those top 100 beers that are hard to find, but the goalposts move to obscure vintages of absurdly limited beers (I've had approximately 1 beer on that list) and people start creatively misspelling whales as walez or wales and at that point, who cares? The hunt can be fun, but some of that stuff seems like a fool's errand. I'll probably stick with local wales and trade for some khaki wales if the mood strikes me. With stuff like Operation Cheddar an finally procuring some Cantillon, I've gotten pretty good at scoring some great stuff, and that's all I can really ask for.
  • The year the ratings died, sorta - I've been doing this for three years now, and I'm experiencing some serious ratings shifting here. Stuff I'd have rated an A a few years ago might be a B level beer nowadays. Is this changing tastes? Or was I just plain wrong? Or maybe I'm just drinking such a higher caliber of beer now that it puts that older stuff in a different perspective? Probably all of the above. So take my ratings with a grain of salt. I'm a moron.
  • Snobby Palate - I'll never claim to have a great palate, but I'm starting to get super snobby about fresh IPAs in particular. And bars that don't clean their tap lines are starting to annoy me. And I'm pretty sensitive to carbonation issues. I don't know how great this development really is, but I try not to annoy other people with my snobby palate and pedantry.
  • Sessionable Beer and Redrinking Beer - I used to basically never drink the same beer twice. And I used to review nearly every beer I drank. But that's lame. I've definitely drank a bunch of beers I've already sampled this year. Some are massive face melters that have a limited annual release (oh, hello there Parabola!), but I've also found a desire for "regular" beer or even a session beer. Sure, I still drink an unhealthy amount of high ABV stuff and the list below certainly contains ample Imperial Stouts and Barleywines, but sometimes I want to sit down with something normal, like a 4% pale ale. Not everything has to melt my face, all the time.
  • Home Brewing - A slow start to the year, but I've been on a tear of late. I've also been tackling "slow" beers, stuff that takes a while to actually finish off (like, for example, the Brett dosed saison or bourbon oak aged imperial stout), but in about a month, I should have about 3 batches hitting their prime. Poor timing, perhaps, but still. I've also finally procured a kegerator and have kegged my first beer (Red Heady), so we'll see what that does (I'm actually planning to keep a relatively sessionable beer on at all times, but we'll see). As per usual, I've got lots of plans and ideas, so it should be a fun year.
  • Aging/Cellaring Beer - I spent a pretty big portion of the year trying to drink down my cellar rather than going out and procuring the next big thing. Of course, I still buy way too much beer, but most of it is not really for aging, even if, uh, it takes me a while to get to it. There are definitely some beers that have really worked for me after a couple years in the cellar, but most are better fresh. This tends to be the general accepted wisdom in the beer nerd world, but it's interesting to discover it for yourself.

So it's been a great year in beer. As previously mentioned, I'm posting my top 40 beers, mostly because I feel like it. The list is limited to beers I had and reviewed this year. Stuff I've had before but loved is also not eligible (so no Parabola or Supplication, etc...) so don't get too cuckoo nutso if your favorite beer isn't on the list. Or whatever, yell at me in the comments, what do I care? Everything on the list has been rated at least an A- on my grading scale and the ordering is generally from best to worst. This is, of course, an entirely arbitrary exercise, but I always have fun with lists, so whatevers. One other rule: I tried to limit some breweries to a handful of entries, because otherwise this would be a list of my favorite Tired Hands, Cantillon, and Hill Farmstead beers, and while that's probably accurate, it's also probably very boring. Alright, enough whining about disclaimers, let's demonstrate how crappy my taste is:

  1. Tired Hands Romulon (Saison)
  2. The Bruery Black Tuesday (Imperial Stout)
  3. Hill Farmstead Susan (IPA)
  4. The Alchemist Heady Topper (Double IPA)
  5. Cantillon Kriek (Lambic)
  6. Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine (Barleywine)
  7. Russian River Framboise For A Cure (American Wild Ale)
  8. Voodoo Pappy Van Winkle Black Magick (Imperial Stout)
  9. The Bruery Bois (Old Ale)
  10. Cigar City Nielsbohrium (Imperial Stout)
  11. Fantôme Magic Ghost (Saison)
  12. Cantillon Fou' Foune (Lambic)
  13. Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist Walden (American Pale Ale)
  14. Lawson's Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA (Double IPA)
  15. FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Rittenhouse Rye (Imperial Stout)
  16. Oude Quetsche Tilquin (Lambic)
  17. Sante Adairius Love's Armor (American Wild Ale)
  18. Firestone Walker PNC (Imperial Stout)
  19. Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts (IPA)
  20. Tired Hands Phantom With Three Different Colored Eyes (Double IPA)
  21. Tröegs Scratch Beer 83 - 2012 (¿Impending Descent?) (Imperial Stout)
  22. Arcadia Bourbon Barrel Aged Cereal Killer (Barleywine)
  23. Cantillon Saint Lamvinus (Lambic)
  24. Tired Hands Only Void (Imperial Stout)
  25. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (Imperial Stout)
  26. Cisco Brewers Lady Of The Woods (American Wild Ale)
  27. La Cabra Brettophile (American Wild Ale)
  28. Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer (Wit/Wheat Beer)
  29. Three Floyds & Mikkeller Risgoop (Barleywine)
  30. Cascade Kriek Ale (American Wild Ale)
  31. FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Elijah Craig (12 Year) (Imperial Stout)
  32. Divine Teufelweizen (2011) (Weizenbock)
  33. Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude (Smoked Beer)
  34. Clown Shoes & Three Heads Brewing Third Party Candidate (Imperial Red Ale)
  35. Forest & Main Oubliant (Tripel)
  36. Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Bigfoot (Barleywine)
  37. Voodoo Laird's Apple Brandy Gran Met (Tripel)
  38. Firestone Walker XVI - Anniversary Ale (American Strong Ale)
  39. Caldera Mogli (Imperial Stout)
  40. Logsdon Seizoen (Saison)

Damn, that was more difficult than I thought. There are at least, like, 5 other Tired Hands IPAs that could easily replace the one I put in there, not to mention stuff like Guillemot Nebula or even the Rye Barrel Only void. I had a great year in beer. Here's to a great 2014!

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark published on January 2, 2014 10:18 PM.

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