The only authority for all things beer…
2015 started out with a bang with Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) tappings taking place throughout DC. CBS is Imperial Stout brewed with a blend of coffees and imported chocolates, then aged in spent bourbon barrels. Lines were long for paltry 4oz pours that usually failed to repeat, but CBS held true with its yummy buttery Michigan maple syrup. I think I’ll pass on this beer if it means waiting outside in the cold especially after a rather stellar year of beer. About two weeks after trying some CBS after a long hiatus, I was fortune to try some Toppling Goliath Assassin which was aged in Pappy Van Winkle – this goodness of a beer gave off a soft chocolate, cocoa nibs, marshmallow, vanilla, oak, and coffee notes. I also landed some AleSmith Speedway Stout Vietnamese Coffee as well as the barrel-aged version which ended up being one of my top beers of 2015. Just a delicious coffee beer. Then I could go on and on explaining all the amazing beers I had, so I will just list them out below!
I scored some tickets to SAVOR, which was the beer event to be at held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. while a very nice affair, I was somewhat disappointed as most of the craft breweries were of the bigger mainstream with much larger footprints and budgets. In any case, I was able to drink lots and lots of ’14 Surly Darkness til it ran out in about two hours then did a selife with the venerable Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Oh, the Four Hands Madagascar was pretty good and so was the Bourbon Barrel Aged Abominable: Coffee And Cinnamon from Fremont Brewing.
I cracked open my last 2010 Goose Island BCS Rare which was a delight and a bittersweet moment until the day I had an opportunity to go to Goose Island’s Rare Day in November with some friends. The 2010 Pappy takes the cake over the 2015 Heaven Hill, but still a treat and once-in-a-lifetime experience to tour the brewery’s vast barrel aging warehouse.
After my mother passed away in July, a friend took me on a memorable road trip to Vermont to cheer me up some. That meant pit stops at amazing breweries such as Tree House and some others that were a disappointment such as New England Brewing, or NEBCO, (very limited beers on tap and don’t give me shit about Ghandi Bot being limited) and Hill Farmstead (massive long lines and poorly coordinated growler fills). Finding Heady Topper was like finding a needle in a haystack. You either need to go to local stores or co-ops at 6am and wait for the store to open in order to get a case and that’s for the first person in line, then the next few people more or less will get a few more cases over the four pack limit imposed at most places. The Alchemist is about finishing up their new brewery and has indicated that there will be no tours, tasting room, nor will they expand their Heady distribution. WTF!? It was until we discovered Tree House and other amazing breweries like Burlington Brewing Co. and Larson’s Finest Liquids that are plentiful on tap in many bars around Vermont (i.e., Three Penny Taproom). The breweries are being such a pain to experience these days and it’s much more enjoyable and relaxing to just drink their amazing beers fresh on tap at those bars. In any case, it was fun checking out these breweries and the major take away was to just head to the bars there. Oh, the amazing farm-to-table places were phenomenal and so were the people and the never-ending sights too! It was funny that as we were driving up from DC leaving NYC through Massachusetts after checking out the ever disappointing NEBCO, we literally drove in the middle of nowhere to Tree House – miles and miles of farm roads got us to thinking that there was no way that this place would sell out of beer nor would there be a ton of people. How wrong we were! The lines went back as far as the eye allowed. The wait even though was worth the beer, but it is advised to go during a busy holiday week when folks are out of town or during really shitty weather to improve your wait time. But it is quite apparent that they churn out just amazing beers to really get this kind of attention in the middle of nowhere.
There is only one beer festival in the metro DC area worth going to – the Snallygaster (yet another chaotic shitshow for like minded beergeeks) and they had Perennial Barrel-Aged Abraxas which is one of the most difficult beers to land. Thanks to a buddy and his girlfriend who had the balls to get to the gates at least two hours before the VIP event started and to let me “keep them company” until the stampede begun to the Abraxas beer tent. I was fortunate to land a nice boss pour knowing that the keg kicked half hour later. The same could be said for The Bruery Grey Monday which was located at the other side of the festival (thankfully I had a few bottles at home). Sheer madness!
I got to visit Colorado for a friend’s wedding, of course, I made every point to visit Colorado staples like Avery, Great Divide, Upslope, and Oskar Blues. All great times!
I foresee 2016 to be a much “slower” season for beer as the last few years have been gracious on my palate, alas, neither on my wallet nor waistline. I am fortunate to have great beer laying at rest in my cellar at home waiting to be shared with family and friends. I have vowed not to wait in lines in pursuit of “rare beers” and instead let them come to me if the opportunity arises as I have many great friends who share the same passion but may not experienced all that I have in past years. There are many incredible beers out there and why not simplify your life a bit more where you can?
Cheers to a prosperous and healthy 2016 ahead!
theBeerAuthority Memorable Beers of 2015
Alesmith Speedway Stout – Barrel Aged Vietnamese Coffee
AleSmith Speedway Stout – Vietnamese Coffee
AleSmith Speedway Stout – Kona Coffee
Alesmith Speedway Stout – Beergeek
Al’s of Hampden / Pizza Boy Brewing Sunny Side Up
Avery Black Eye
Burlington Brewing Co. It’s Complicated Being a Wizard
Central Waters 15, 16, 17 Anniversary Beers
Churchill’s Finest Hour 2014
Cycle Brewing Pallet 1 and 4
Cycle Brewing Rare DOS
DC Brau Solar Abyss
FiftyFifty Eclipse Imperial Stout Java
FiftyFifty Eclipse Pappy Van Wink
Firestone Walker XVIII
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Fremont Bourbon Barrel Aged Abominable
Fremont Kentucky Dark Star
Funky Buddha Last Snow
Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Porter
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Rare
Half Acre / Three Floyds Anicca
Hardywood Christmas Morning
Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged Naked Evil
Hoppin’ Frog Frog Hops to Amager
La Cumbre Elevated IPA
La Cumbre Project Dank
Lawson’s Finest Liquids Hopcelot IPA
Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine
Oskar Blues Barrel-aged Ten Fidy
Perennial Barrel-aged Abraxas
Revolution Bean Gene Porter
The Bruery Mocha Wednesday
The Bruery Mash
The Bruery Mash & Grind
The Bruery Sucere Variants (2014)
The Bruey Smokey and the Bois
The Lost Abbey Track #10 – Bat Out Of Hell
Toppling Golaith ZeeLander
Toppling Goliath Assassin – Pappy Van Winkle
Toppling Goliath PseudoSue
Tree House Alter Ego
Tree House Curiosity Twenty
Tree House Green
Tree House Haze
Tree House Julius
Tree House Lights On
Tree House Pacer
Trillium Congress Street IPA
Trillium Four Point