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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Boston Beers: Home Away from Home

Step 4

Step 4

Before I left for my trip to Boston last week, I put some serious time and energy into developing a
To Do List:
1) Hang with old friends
2) Drink good beer
3) Combine steps 1 and 2
4) Repeat steps 1-3
I don’t suppose I need to brag about how successful I was accomplishing this.

I had five days and about four times as many places I wanted to see (trans: beers I wanted to drink). Say what you will about Boston, but they do their beer up damn fine. What’s most impressive is the diversity of brews made there.

That little barley grain is just the cutest

That little barley grain is just the cutest

We started off the trip with a visit to Redbones, which is a rib place for most people, but a beer bar for me. (Also, hush puppies that’ll give you a glimpse of the deep fryer that is heaven.) My first pick had to be a Jack D’Or from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Pretty Things isn’t your typical brewery, in that they don’t have a brewery. They’re gypsies. They get up at 3am and brew in other brewers’ breweries before the generous owners need to open up and use their own equipment.

More importantly, they make beers no one else is brewing. Jack D’Or, their flagship beer, is what they call a Saison Americain…which is not really a thing, but it is now. Pretty Things abhors “styles” the way cats abhor vacuums. They like to let the beer speak for itself, and Jack D’Or says, “Mais oui! Je suis delicieuse!” So, what is it then? I’d say a sort of hoppy saison with spicy notes and a bitter backbone coated in gold. Continue reading

Judging Beer by Its Cover

I believe most of my bookish friends will back me up when I assert that YES, in fact, you CAN judge a book by its cover. I hold that that the same does NOT hold for beer; in fact, many of my favorites have downright ugly labels. (Ahem, Dogfish Head.) But I’d like to share some of my favorite tasty, artsy beers because they look good all lumped together. What follows is a mix of well-illustrated, graphic, eye-catching, and imaginative label art. Click the image for a better look at it; web addresses are below.

This is making me drool a little. I’m sure there’s more out there I’ve yet to taste–what’s your favorite beer label?

*Beers left to right, top to bottom:
Flying Dog (Ralph Steadman!)
Left Hand Brewing
Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project
Sixpoint Brewery
Oskar Blues Brewery
Surly Brewing
Brooklyn Brewery
The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
Cisco Brewers
Redhook Brewing
Southern Tier
Rogue Brewing