2014 was another great year for beer travels — flight, roadtrip, and armchair varieties all included. I keep track of brews on the Untappd app for Android, not so much for the social networking aspect of it, but just so I can keep track of the ones I liked and why. A few more Minnesota beers than might be expected because I am working on a new brewery roadtrip guidebook: Minnesota’s Best Beer Guide. Here are a few new ones that I rated 5 out of 5. This is of course highly subjective, but I hope the list leads you on a bit of exploring. To be clear, these are new beers for me, not necessarily newcomers to the market (though some of them are that as well).
World Wide Stout by Dogfish Head Brewery
With 18% abv this ended up being a small pour shared with a friend. Thick and rich and potent, this is best drunk after a meal. Think of it as dessert or sippable like a port wine. We split a glass because we were weak. Delicious and despite the potency not overbearing with the alcohol and thus dangerous, eh?
Dark Matter by Sweet Mullets Brewing
A Bronze winner back in 2010, this export stout pairs well with the brewer’s chipotle stout beef sandwich. I had an excellent sour ale here during the same visit but it hadn’t been released yet and didn’t even have a name. Watch this place for sour ales as Brewer Mark Duchow does a fantastic job.
Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout by New Belgium Brewing
Lips of Faith series
I don’t know if this is a thing that will catch on, but it is a thing. Salt in a beer adds depth to the flavor but isn’t done in a way that makes the beer taste salty (or it least it shouldn’t be). This is another beer suited for dessert, and it is roasty and the chocolate is apparent, while the salt is not.
Libertine Black Ale by BrewDog
I will hunt this down in Bangkok as it is the best beer in town, typically. When it is in town, that is. A good black IPA worth the effort to find. This lucky evening I found a small stash of bottles in the fridge at Jim’s Burgers and Beers near Ari Station in Bangkok, Thailand.
Imperial Stout by Nihonkai Club
After lifetimes of “Super Dry,” it is nice to see some Japanese brewers moving off into the craft brewing world, and like with most Japanese hobbies/interests, they are taking it quite seriously. Had the opportunity to try it in Tokyo at Good Faucets, a great craft beer bar in Shibuya, just a short walk from the famous pedestrian crossing and train station.
Coco Noir by Blacklist Brewing
The brewers call their brews “special occasion beers” and that’s good advice. Brought out a 750 ml bottle of this rum-barrel-aged dunkelweizen with roasted coconut for a dinner with friends and even the beer-neutral among us were suitably impressed.
Maggie’s Leap by NorthGate Brewing
There is nothing quite like a full bodied stout on a nitro tap, the rich malty notes. Having it at the brewer’s tap room is the icing on the cake. This sweet stout is worth a visit in Minneapolis.
Furious by Surly Brewing
Maybe I am the last to jump on the bandwagon here, but for some reason I just never had the opportunity to try this highly regarded brew. Surly calls it a hybrid, an English ESB meets American IPA. Five different varieties of hops: Warrior, Ahtanum, Cascade, Simcoe, and Amarillo, providing a lot of citrus and a bitter finish to back up that latter claim. Golden Promise, a traditional Scottish malt, holds its own, making this quite a rich and balanced beer with a medium mouthfeel. Had it on tap in the Twin Cities because the new Surly destination brewery hadn’t opened yet. Bummer. Plastic cup at the hotel bar. Odd, I know, but it was a basketball night at nearby U of M I guess.
Thor’s Imperial Porter by Hammerheart Brewing Co.
I walk into an all wood metal bar. Sort that out. Designed as a nod to some Nordic warrior lodge and beer drinking traditions, the music goes right along with it. This imperial porter is not to be messed with. A bit smoky and some spicy pepper that builds as you drink.
Oud Bruin by New Glarus Brewing
I like sours. I love great sours. Ergo, I love this recent iteration of the Thumbprint series. Barrel-aged Flanders-style spontaneous fermentation. Tart not squint-your-eyes sour, and with lovely oak flavors. Not a beer person but you like wine? Maybe this is your gateway beer to the craft world. This one is good for cellaring but I am not sure I have such self control.
Raspberry Eisbock Lager by Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
This is really something. Share a bottle with friends if you can get your hands on one. Rated highly online, this is a fruity (but not overly so) and rich brew, with that warm eisbock effect that transforms beer into something bigger, not just freezing out water to make it stronger (15.5% abv), but to enrich the flavors. The chocolate hints blend well with the fruit. I see they have a blueberry version. Want.