Everyone loves a good year end list. Here at Stunt Granny, we’re no different. It’s fun to yell at paper or a computer screen and tell the person who can’t hear you that they’re an idiot. I’ve rounded up quite a few of those idiots to give their opinion on beer. Since I have a tendency to be a beer omnivore, it’ll be good to have opinions from people who tend to stick to families of beers. The other upside to this list is that these people are from all over this fine country of ours so you don’t have to listen to me yammer about beers from Ohio or more specifically Columbus. Keep in mind that I asked these drunks to list their five favorite beers from this year, not their five favorite beers of all time. Could I put Eliot Ness on my list? Sure but that seems silly since most people that read this site know it’s an easy top five beer for me. Since part 1 was friends of the site, part 2 is the staff:
Jeremy – Greenville, SC & Charlotte, NC
Beer: UFO Pumpkin
Location: Boston, MA
Style: Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale
Harpoon made a clear winner in the Fall/Oktoberfest seasonal market this year UFO was downright delicious. It was smooth, sweet and not the least bit filling. It has just the right amount of spice and brown sugar hints to compliment the pumpkin.
Beer: Cold Mountain
Location: Asheville, NC
Style: Winter Ale
Cold Mountain isn’t new. In fact I have been drinking it for the last four years but it never gets old. Highland keeps the supply at a minimum which of course drives the demand up and in turn makes this a hard brew to find. It adds to the mystique of it I suppose. Highland Cold Mountain is probably the best beer I have ever had. It is smooth with no tart or bitterness. It has a nice tang of malt with the smoothness of a pilsner. It is just fantastic.
Beer: Stone Enjoy By
Brewery: Stone Brewing
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: Double IPA
I am an IPA person so it may be a small surprise that Double IPA’s are not my taste. Most taste too thick or syrupy. When I first ordered this at VBGB here in Charlotte I was unaware it was a Double IPA. It had everything an IPA has but the bitterness was minimal. It has a strong body that pours with nice head. What makes it different is the fact it is made with fresh hops. The entire beer is designed to expire as if it were milk or cream. After tasting it though there is no chance it could go bad based off its enticing taste.
Beer: OMB Copper
Brewery: Old Mecklenburg Brewery
Location: Charlotte, NC
Style: Amber Ale
OMB Copper is a nice, easy relaxing time beer. It goes with just about everything. Being a local brew it is easy to find around here so when in Charlotte it is worth tasting. It is your basic amber ale but this actually has flavor. It is about time I found a nice basic beer that has a rich flavor.
Beer: Catcher in The Rye
Brewery: Frog Level Brewery
Location: Waynesville, NC
Style: Rye Ale
Catcher in The Rye was my choice as the top beer at this tears Charlotte Beerfest. It is a perfect Rye Ale but it has one problem; availability. In a town full of craft breweries and even more bars and restaurants carrying them this has been impossible to find. If you ever have a chance and rye ales are your bag you have to try this.
My Lady M – Columbus, OH (Cider Special)
Beer: Orchard Crisp Apple (#5)
Brewery: Angry Orchard Cider Company
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple was my #1 at the beginning of the summer when Kevin asked me to write a cider review. Unfortunately, the crisp, dry and tasty apple flavor didn’t hold the #1 spot as I started trying more and more ciders. If you’re looking for a dry but tasty apple drink I definitely suggest the Crisp Apple over the other Angry Orchards. This one has just enough of a bite that you actually feel like you’re eating a nice crisp apple on a warm summer day.
Beer: Elderberry Cider (#4)
Brewery: Original Sin
Location: York, NY
When I first saw this cider on the beer menu at a restaurant, I thought, what does Elderberry taste like? Well, this beer became my #1 after trying it; beating out the Angry Orchard. As I had never heard of Original Sin before, I found that the orchard is based out of NY. The mixture of apples and elderberries make this a very tart yet refreshing drink which would be good to enjoy all year round and in case you didn’t know, per wikipedia, elderberries have been used medicinally over hundreds of years treating you for the common flu, alleviating allergies and boosting immunity. So, when you’re not feeling very well, grab an Original Sin Elderberry Cider, not only is it tasty, but could help you feel better too.
Beer: McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider (#3)
Brewery: Mayer Brother’s Fine Beverages
Location: Buffalo, NY
I stumbled across this spectacular cider while we were out shopping one day. Not knowing what it tasted like, but sounding delicious, I grabbed a 6 pack bottle holder and grabbed a McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, the outcome was delicious! You have the dark cider apple taste but infused with a deliciously sweet black cherry finish. It’s only #3 because it was in a tie with my number 2 spot. McKenzie is based out of New York and these New Yorkers know how to make a delicious cider!
Beer: Honey Oak Cider
Brewery: Griffin Cider Works
Location: Westlake, OH
I would have never tried this absolutely divine honey cider, but a trip to Hal & Al’s in Columbus is where the love of this cider came from. This cider is made with 4 local honeys and then oak aged. I drank 4 of these in one night as the taste is so delicious it was almost the #1 spot. If you love honey, you will love this Honey Oak Cider, and the best part is it’s local! Nothing like having a delicious cider and knowing it’s made from all local honey’s.
Beer: McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve
Brewery: Mayer Brother’s Fine Beverages
Location: Buffalo, NY
McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve is my #1 beer for the year. When you pop that top, the sweet aroma of Christmas surrounds you. The warmth of the mulling spices along with the taste of cinnamon and nutmeg, you can just envision sitting by the fire and enjoying a fabulous evening with friends or family. This cider is so deliciously addicting, I probably wouldn’t know if I drank an entire 6 pack by myself in one evening. The taste is so sweet and so developed, there’s a reason it’s a seasonal reserve and only out for a limited time. My advice, run to the store and grab McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve before the season ends.
Eric – Des Moines, IA
It should be noted that when I originally conceived this plan, I wanted five good beers and five bad beers. Everyone seemed to be having a problem coming up with bad beers so I scrapped that part. Eric didn’t listen to me and has decided to go with a mix of good and bad beers. I think you can figure out which is which. – Kevin
Beer: Red Rambler
Brewery: Peace Tree Brewing Co.
Location: Knoxville, Iowa
Style: American Amber/Red Ale
I got into reds following a long, arduous career of drinking Keystone Light. Inspired by the Nada Surf song “Killian’s Red,” I ordered one of those and never looked back. A bad red can be too creamy, or too flat, or too aftertastey…this is definitely none of those. It even has that hard-to-explain craft beer quirk to it, which is a compliment. This is my go-to beer.
Location: Bend, Oregon
Style: White IPA
Everyone these days is an IPA fan. And lots of people are starting to purchase Hoegaarden thanks to mass distribution. Whites and IPAs aren’t that far apart on the family tree, but without a delicate hand, a brewery could have blown this one. Thankfully, there’s nothing else to do in Oregon except craft your lame-ass hipster mustache and craft an addictive white IPA. I tried it the day they came to Iowa, and I’ve had some in my fridge ever since.
Beer: Dinkey Wheat
Brewery: Olde Main Brewing Co. & Restaurant
Location: Ames, Iowa
Style: Witbier/Belgian Style Wheat
Do you ever drink a beer and then recoil in the same way like you would if you walked into your uncle’s sharp fart? This isn’t even “bitter beer face,” this is “mad at the world” face; this is “disgusted by your actions and revolted by your intentions” face. Hell, even Blue Moon got wheat right. If you’re ever in Ames, get the Tuscan Chicken Breast and a Diet Coke.
Beer: Bad Elf Winter Ale
Brewery: Ridgeway Brewing
Location: South Stoke, UK
Style: English IPA
Taking a look at Beer Advocate and the 81/100 this beer has received, I take it I’m in the minority, but yuck. They could have stopped at “Bad.” I couldn’t drink past the neck. I’d rather drink egg nog, which comedian Dave Attell says is “elf c*m.” I’m now of the opinion that the things that make English beers English and the things that make IPAs taste IPAey just don’t mix.
Beer: Levitation Ale
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: American Amber
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Stone is the cool new kid in town. With its devils and demonic iconography and awesome beer names, how could it not be? It’s the Fonz of beers. Now, with a moniker like Levitation, you’d think this ale could get you drunk in half a beer. The fact is, it’s a low ABV, which means you get to enjoy many, many, many of these delicious ales, which strike a perfect hop/malt balance. And then you’ll be drunk. And then you’ll be cool.
Kevin – Columbus, OH
Beer: Nitro Milk Stout
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company
Location: Longmont, CO
Style: Sweet Stout
As I said in my initial review of this beer and it holds now that I’ve done 10 more months of reviews, this stout is as good as any other stout in the world. There’s a touch of sweetness in this bitter drink that makes it a perfect combination.
Beer: Big Wave Golden Ale
Brewery: Kona Brewing Company
Location: Kona, Hawaii
Style: Golden Ale
I tried this beer at the Columbus Winter Beerfest in early January. I have bought my tickets for this coming year’s Winter Beerfest so expect another post similar to that one. At the time I tried this beer, I had no idea Kona would be sold through out Columbus for the remainder of the year so I may not have tasted it then. I’m still glad I did though because it’s a great beer company that has had a number of quality beers touch my lips this year. This beer was very crisp, refreshing and outstandingly smooth. Availability here.
I will again repeat what I had in my first review, “…so tasty, I almost took a picture of an empty glass.” which I still stand behind. I would also suggest this beer for anyone who doesn’t like craft beers as it’s similar in style to a pilsner but much better. Unfortunately, they are temporarily shut down so no one gets to have this tasty beverage. Boo terrible landlords. We want more beer!
Beer: Avalanche Ale
Brewery: Breckenridge Brewery
Location: Denver, CO
Style: Amber Ale
You guessed it, here’s a link for my first review of this beer, which wasn’t the best. I have smoothed out my descriptions since then though. I steal things like their tag line for this beer “Slides Down Easy” which it does. I just hope that no one who has been in an avalanche sues them for being insensitive. Avalanche has great maltiness with just enough hops to keep your taste buds from going one note on this beer. This company is another in a long line of quality brewers from Colorado so if you don’t see this beer on the shelf, give any of their beverages a swing.
Beer: Robert The Bruce
Brewery: 3 Floyds
Location: Munster, IN
Style: Scottish Ale
As I type this, I’m interested in the fact that only Robert The Bruce from the second half of the year made my best of list. I started tasting and posting more in the second half of the year, so I would assume I’d run into more beers that really rocked my palette. That has not been the case for whatever reason though. Robert The Bruce had no problems cracking this list, which isn’t ranked from top to bottom. If I were forced to make a pick of my top five for favorite, this one would be it. Their site says it’s a malt lover’s delight and it is. Just like the Avalanche Amber, there’s just enough hops to make this more than a one note beer.
Since I do write this blog, I am allowed to do whatever I want. Presented in no particular order my five honorable mentions from 2013: Dark Horse Brewing – Amber Ale, Founders Brewing Company – Breakfast Stout, Rivertown Brewing Company – Roebling Porter, Weyerbacher – Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Triple Digit Brewing – Gravitator.