Top 10 Beers of 2013

I can’t remember a damned thing if I don’t put it on a list: where to be, what to do, and what to drink while do it. Even then I forget where I’ve set my drink halfway though. As such, I am a fan of the proliferation of end-of-the-year lists around New Year’s, and offer you one of my own: Llalan’s Top 10 Beers of 2013.

10. Celebration Ale. I do the Dance of Joy every November when this beer is released. It was on last year’s list as well, and this beer will likely be on every end-of-the-year list as long as Sierra Nevada continues to produce it. It is one of the few nutmeg- and cinnamon-less winter seasonals out there. You can bet there is always some in my fridge during the holidays. Don’t bet on me sharing it, though.

9. Burton Baton. Because Dogfish Head’s 60-minute IPA is another perennial (and inspirational) favorite in my home, I want to feature one of their other, lesser-known brews. The delicious concoction (also mentioned this Thanksgiving) is actually a combination of an imperial IPA and an English-style old ale, aged together in an oak tank. Like nothing I’ve ever had and like everything I’ve always wanted.

8. Lucky 13. Lagunitas first brewed this beer in 2008 to celebrate 13 years of brewing and brought it back last year to celebrate 20 years of putting out fantastic beers. It’s a big red that has that delicious something peculiar to Lagunitas. In the end, we’re the lucky ones.

7. Righteous Ale. I am a huge fan of rye beer; insert bitter joke here: ______. The Sixpoint take on rye beer is definitely one of my favorites, in part because it does not coat your mouth with that potent and unpleasant aftertaste most ryes have. It is unique in its adaptability to the weather, in that it will warm you in the winter and quench you in the summer.

6. All Day IPA. This session beer from Founders is remarkably flavorful for a beer of 4.7% abv. So flavorful, in fact, that Ben and I thought we could trick our wedding attendees into thinking it was a higher-powered beer that should be drunk with care, rather than a cheap, low-alcohol brew you can drink gallons of. So instead of having a few out-of-control drunks we just had a crowd of very careful drunks.

5. Alchemy Hour. This summer seasonal imperial IPA from Great Lakes Brewing is what made last summer’s heat bearable. Around closing time at my shop I found my mouth was watering at the prospect of sitting on my porch, watching the sunset, drinking a cold Alchemy. They have had to change the name (now Chillwave), due to a copyright issue, but as long as the recipe remains the same, I won’t complain.

4. Nosferatu. An imperial red ale, also from Great Lakes (I hope they’re able to expand distribution soon, ‘cause I fear many of  you are missing out!) If this is what being a vampire is all about, well then, bite me! Looks red, tastes red, and your empty glass has you seeing red.

3. Head HunterFat Head’s operates primarily out of Ohio also, so I’m not sure how many of you will have tried this…but if you haven’t, get yer butts on a flight to Cleveland. This IPA tastes like an imperial with it’s bold hop flavor and flowery notes. It’s won multiple national awards and was my go-to beer of 2013. Pretty much guaranteed that every first sip would elicit a, “Damn, that’s good!” or something of the sort.

2. Matrimoni-Ale. Maybe it’s cheating, but I do feel obligated to include the beer Ben and I brewed together for our wedding. It was an extremely limited release, brewed last winter using hops grown in the family garden. At the wedding we passed out a sample to everyone to use for the toasts; by the end of the night the keg was kicked.

1. Dubhe. This may seem an unlikely winner, but this beer from Uinta Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah, is flabbergastingly fantastic. It is brewed with, to quote them, “an astronomical amount of hops,” but also with hemp seeds, which one can only assume has something to do with its name, pronounced “doo-bee.” (Ain’t nothin’ Mormon ‘bout this beer.) It’s a black IPA, oil-like in appearance and transcendental in flavor. Thank you, bar next door, for introducing us.

So those are my picks: what were your favorite beers of 2013? I can’t wait to see what is in store for us this year!

8 thoughts on “Top 10 Beers of 2013

  1. Because of you I drank Winter Star (or something like that) Stout at the otherwise empty, but welcoming and “Cheers”-like Happy Grape. It was also flabbergastingly fantastic. John seems stuck on Amstel Light. Any suggestions for him? I already have your suggestions for me.

    • Llalan,
      I respect your selection & judgements, but my tastes gravitate to the lower end of the hoppy/IBU scale, maybe got “burned out” on hops in Portland?
      I’m finding “Tart” more palatable and refreshing than “Bitter”! So, Belgian ales, esp the hard-to-find Farmhouse Saison, are very appealing to me!
      Jennifer- amazing how many people seem “stuck” on a certain beer, usually a “Lite/Light” version of a mass-produced pilsener (knock-off of Czech Pilsener Urquell!).
      My own Entre’ into Good Beer was thru my first German NaturTrub Hefeweizen, during a summer visit to a Gasthaus with my cousins in Spaichingen at 16!

      I’d recommend a good Belgian “Wit”, a milder but still tasty & refreshing version of Wheat beer- then a good fruit-flavored American wheat/weizen, followed by a real Southern German HefeWeizen (fuller, stronger flavor profile) and finally a big jump to a good, tangy Tart, low IBU/hops Belgian-style Ale…I’ve been drinking Goose Island’s “Sofie”, which is rather expensive, but can be found or ordered locally.

      I’ll try to have a good variety of beers to try at my Hygge! :)

      • You’re right, I do definitely lean toward the hoppy end of the spectrum; a Belgian has to be really special to get my attention–Rockmill Brewing out of Lancaster, OH, for example. You can find it in Columbus and hopefully here soon if my local beer supplier listens to me!

  2. I wonder if, instead of trying to find something that is a substitute for Amstel (Dortmunder, I thought at first), you knock his socks off with something totally different–a taste he won’t recognize as beer. For instance, Avery’s White Rascal, which is a Belgian wheat or Harpoon’s Long Thaw, which is a white IPA. Neither are too hoppy, but both are very flavorful. Another tack may be stouts and porters that don’t taste like how they look: Left Hand’s Milk Stout and New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk–both creamy dessert-like beers, and very accessible. Founder’s Oatmeal Breakfast Stout and Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout, too. Many of these can be found in the singles’ section of your local grocery, I happen to know, so you could mix and match.

  3. Good list! We’ve been enjoying the NY craft beers since moving out here. Our favs this year are: Southhampton IPA, Southern Tier Pumking and Bluepoint Blueberry Ale. (Jennifer, John would probably like the blueberry ale.)

    • I remember Southhampton from when I lived in Boston–good stuff! There are so many great breweries in that area I would hardly know where to start. Love anything Sixpoint makes, though.

  4. I’d like to recommend some Southern beers. We’ve had some good ones from Nashville, TN, and Asheville, NC, since moving to the South. Highland Brewing in Asheville is a particular favorite. They make several really tasty brews that if you can get your hands on in Ohio, you should definitely try.

    • Thanks for the suggestions! I know very little about southern beer outside what I tried in New Orleans a few years ago. I’d like to visit those two towns anyway–what better reason than beer?

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