Saturday, December 31, 2011

FatCat's Top Beers 2011

As I reflect back on this awesome craft brew year I attempt to recollect the greats.  These are the brews that immediately stand out when I ask myself the question, “What were the best brews you remember trying in 2011.”  I tried to limit my responses to brews that I first tried in 2011 and were not super duper limited.  Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.

14.  New Holland The Poet - This oatmeal stout was a discovery of mine late this year.  For a year round availability this brew is outstanding.  I can't wait to pit this against my beloved Sam Adams Cream Stout.

13.  Ska Modus Hoperandi –
This is the beer that started my canned craft brew     discovery.  This IPA can stand up to the best of them and you can take it in your boat!

12.  Schlafly Bavarian-Style Weissbier –
This brew was a welcome break from the summers’ IPA binges.  It immediately pops in my head when I think of this summer and will forever hold fondness in FatCat’s heart.

11.  Crabtree Oatmeal Stout –
This is the brew I first tried at the Omaha Beer Festival.  Crabtree Oatmeal Stout was the most notable brew and the brewers were some of the nicest people at the event.  As a plus I found out that Crabtree brews are actually available in KS.  Score!

10.  Ska ESB –
This was part of my canned craft brew discovery and I loved it.  If you ever wondered what a creamy beer should taste like grab a can of this. 

9.  Sam Adams Double Bock – The malt complexity and the smoothness of this big ABV brew is phenomenal.  This was also named the Lager of the Year at the World Beer Awards 2011. 

8.  Founder’s Centennial IPA – This is as close to perfection as you can get in the IPA style.  Not only does this nail the complexity of hop character it has also has a stellar malt character on the front.  Poetry in beer form.

7.  Odell Myrcenary –
Grapefruit character runs rampant and this brew is dangerously drinkable for an imperial IPA.

6.  Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale –
This brew is the superman of malt complexity.  Third Coast is the brew that took our Barleywine shootout standing up to the bitterness of the American Barleywines.  The malt complexity is truly amazing.

5.  Avery The Czar –
This is the imperial stout that blind sided me in 2011.  With stouts being my favorite style it’s hard to “surprise” me without bourbon barrel aging or some other bells and whistles.  Well the Czar surprised me and made me a believer.  I love it.

4.  Free State Oktoberfest –
I drank more of this brew than any others this year.  This could be because I was drinking them 1 liter at a time but who’s counting?  This was one of the only American renditions I would prefer over the traditional German Oktoberfests.  DAS BOOT!

3.  Trappistes Rochefort 10 –
As I get further and further into beer culture I try and expand my horizons.  Belgian beer is one of those horizons that many others are absolutely infatuated with and I just didn’t get it.  In an effort to be part of the cool club I started trying different Belgian style brews to try and “get it”.  Largely disappointed in my experience this is one absolute gem that I do “get”. 

2.  Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel –
I tried this brew at Twisters downtown.  I was looking for something different to try and this seemed like it would fit the bill.  Holy crap this brew more than fit the bill it won the lottery.  Discovering new brews that completely surprise me is what keeps me coming back time and again to craft brew.  I love it.

1.  Firestone Walker Parabola –
This is easily my favorite brew of the year.  Big, bad, and boozy imperial stouts are what make me weak in the knees.  This brew is all of that and a little more.  I wish I could get a keg of this stuff and drink it everyday for breakfast.  Is this too much to ask?

Those are my memorable moments in craft beer drinking 2011.  Each beer may or may not be the best version of it’s style, but these are the brews that left an impression in the old noggin.  What are some of your favorite brews for 2011?

Everyone have a happy and safe New Years.

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