Top 10 Beers of 2015

New Year’s Day is a time to sit back and reflect on the year, contemplate some of the big questions: Why am I here, What the hell am I doing with my life, and At what point did I finally drink my weight in beer. What follows is a list of my favorite beers of 2015. Why give a flippin’ firkin about what one hop head in the middle of Ohio drank this past year? Same as why you read any end of the year list: to judge yourself against popular taste and declare yourself the winner.

skeletonred10. Skeleton Red Rye IPA, Four String Brewing (Columbus, OH)
I was disappointed to learn this is only a fall seasonal, because it’s my favorite Four String beer so far. The beer is hoppy, fresh, almost citrusy, and yet seriously dry — attributes I strive for, myself. Skeleton was a favorite this fall and made me proud of Ohio’s beer integrity.


Wheeling Brewing: This is how we get by–all right!

9. Nail City Porter, Wheeling Brewing (Wheeling, WV)
Within a square block in the city of Wheeling I purchased: an armload of fantastic used books for $1 apiece from a used bookstore that specialized in towering, dusty stacks of novels; a vintage red leather jacket with rabbit fur collar from an antique shop specializing in the Confederacy; a growler of rich, roasty Nail City Porter from a bartender who looked like Britt Daniel of Spoon. I’m sure that had nothing to do with my attraction to it.

A Tuesday

Your average Tuesday

7. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA) / Celebration, Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA)
Based solely on the volume of certain bottlecaps in our collection, these two beers earned their spot on this list. Both are go-tos: Little Sumpin’ year-round; Celebration from November to January. They remind me of each other in character, a bit. Each is dangerously, deliciously easy to drink and not of such an obnoxious abv that you can’t have two or three in an evening.
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Recipe for Ladies’ Beer Club

Beer Club Apparel by Kate: eyes down here, fellas!

Beer Club Apparel by Kate: eyes down here, fellas!

Ingredients: Ladies (three or more), Beer, Snacks

Step 1) Get a beer. Get it in a good beer bar. And preferably one where they know you by name. The bar my friend Kate and I go to is one door down from my bookstore. This makes it both very convenient and very dangerous. They usually have a good selection of bottled craft beers as well as some exotic cocktails including the Gin Basil (which is also very dangerous). After my first beer, the delightful Baba from Uinta, I begin to feel a certain largesse and order this beautiful, basil-flecked martini, shaken exactly 100 times before strained into my glass. “Llalan, can I get you another Gin Basil?”

Step 2) Stick with ordering beer and discuss the purpose of your beer club. We start a list. We’re good at lists.

  • Drink good beer
  • Try new beer
  • Discuss said beer
  • Do all of the above in the company of good women
  • Tighten our relationships with said good women

Every club worth its weight in Gin Basils has a mission statement that makes it sound important, so here we go: We strive to explore the world of beer and spread the culture of beer within the context of an open and friendly environment of women only, to preserve the historical context of the beverage and minimize the incidents of mansplaining. Continue reading

From Anheuser to Zymurgy, the Beer-Lover’s Christmas List

Selfish? Give the gift of something you love!

Christmas is approaching, and if you don’t have a beer-lover to buy for, I have a list of beery gifts here good enough to turn any wine-lover to the light.

First of all, the books. As many of you know, I run a bookstore so, as many of you have now guessed, everyone in my family gets a book for Christmas. Here are a few of the beerlicious titles I’ll be handing out:

For the novices I’m looking at The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua Bernstein. The self-described beer expert “demystifies the sudsy stuff, breaking down the elements that give each type its distinctively delicious flavor.”

For someone close whose level of cleanliness you trust

Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing is an essential for any new brewers. This is the third edition, but the fourth isn’t coming out until after Christmas. Another new guide to brewing is called simply, How to Brew Beer by Bob Bridle. It’s a DK publication, which means it’ll be a pretty book, too. The Naked Brewer was recently put out by the ladies who wrote The Naked Pint, this a simple brewing guide companion to the Pint‘s tasting guide.

For the more experienced brewers: from the folks at CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) have out Brew Your Own British Real Ale by Graham Wheeler; and from the nut at Dogfish Head, Sam Calagione, Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home. Continue reading