In what I hope becomes a long standing annual set of posts, I’m bringing back the Round Table of Drunks. Some people have gone, some new people are involved. I trust anyone’s palate because in the end, because no one’s taste is the same. I’m glad to have some help from around the country to throw their opinions in so if you don’t happen to be stranded in central Ohio, maybe you’ll get some opinions from closer to your neck of the woods. Feel free to submit your Top 5 next year if you haven’t done it this year. You can load Untappd onto your phone or keep track of them on Instagram (@difrango11 for both) then get at me next year. On to this year’s crop of friends for their Top 5s –
Linda – Pittsburgh PA
After sampling so many noteworthy beers, it was difficult to select just five
favorites from the past year. The beers I favored vacillated between styles,
with the seasons, and depended greatly on the atmosphere in which they
were enjoyed. The following beers are tied to great memories throughout
the year, because each beer is more than just a beer, it is all about the experience!
North Country Brewery – McCleod’s Ewe
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
IBU: ABV: 4.9%
This Scottish Ale is perfectly balanced with an abundance of malty caramel
aroma and flavor. Cozy up with this beer on a rainy day while exploring the eclectic wood interior of North Country Brewery and you might even spy their resident elf!
Ommegang – Scythe & Sickle Harvest Ale Biere De Guard
Location: Cooperstown NY
IBU: ABV: 5.8%
If I was a hummingbird and I found this delightful amber colored nectar inside of a flower, I would happily drown! Creamy, with subtle sweetness and delicate toastiness, this beer delivers pure delight. Brewed with barley, oats, wheat, and rye to honor the harvest season, take time to savor the incredibly complex malty smoothness.
Roundabout Brewery – GingaWheat
Location: Lawrenceville Neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA
IBU: ABV: 5.0%
Local honey, lemon, and fresh pressed ginger give this American Wheat beer a sweet bright refreshing zing! The bright sunny color, coupled with a vibrant ginger aroma makes this beer perfect for a summertime picnic.
North Country Brewery – Slippery Rock Dew
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
IBU: ABV: 5.2%ABV
Thanks to the efforts of local bees, this hazy golden colored ale is contains
lots of clover honey. Enjoy the lingering honey sweetness during the long-lasting dry bready finish on the Patio at North Country Brewery on a
hot summer day and you will be in awe of any bees that may be passing through!
Founders Brewing Co. – Breakfast Stout
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
IBU: ABV: 8.30%
Lights up your palate with a roasty intensity and subtle sweetness as it tingles crisply on your tongue. Notes of espresso on the exhale with a long roasty finish that tapers off perfectly with a notable smoothness from the oats. In both aroma and flavor there is heat, perhaps from chipotle peppers? This beer will awaken your senses during any time of the day! As an explorer of beer during this fortunate influx of innovative craft brewing, I often find that the best beer is usually the one in hand, especially if you are in good company. Cheers!
Fred – Columbus OH
Deschutes Brewery – The Abyss
Location: Bend, Oregon
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout IBU: 86 ABV: 11.00%
Starting out with a bold prediction for the new year, I want to see Columbus become the home of a brand new Deschutes brewery and brewpub #deschutestocbus. If you try any of their beers you will surly understand why this is one of the largest microbrewery in the country. Their imperial stout is no exception. Aged in bourbon, Oregon oak and pinot noir barrels this stout is full of strong flavors including a decent hop wallop. This is a great complex beer for an Ohio winter that will defiantly keep you warm.
Stone Brewing Co. – Stochasticity Project – Master of Disguise Imperial Golden Stout
Location: Escondido, California
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout ABV: 9.70%
As part of a more experimental series of beers from Stone, Master of Disguise breaks new ground by disguising an imperial stout with the looks of an amber ale. To understand the allusion, it is best to take a sip with your eyes closed. Based on the aroma and the taste you will be convinced you are drinking a dark stout. Stone uses cocoa and coffee beans to impart a stout flavor and oat flakes to impart a heavier mouth feel. I recommend that if you are lucky enough to find one of these you should close your eyes and enjoy the illusion.
Clown Shoes Beer – Space Cake
Location: Ipswich, Massachusetts
Style: American Double / Imperial IPA ABV: 9.00%
I was initially drawn to this beer by its unusual name. Having never heard of the brewery or the beer, I ordered a draft at Gallo’s Tap Room to give it a whirl. It is brewed with citrusy Mosaic hops and has a malt flavor that is more typical of a west coast beer. The beer has a great balance between the higher than usual alcohol content and a pile of hops. If you do look for this in a store, just look for one of the more unusual labels, it will blow your socks off!
Seventh Son Brewing Co. – Oubliette
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout ABV: 12.00%
At Seventh Son you can try one of the best stouts in Columbus. It is no surprise they have had a difficult time keeping up with demand. If you do choose to visit the brewery you will usually find an excellent food truck parked in the lot. Oubliette pours nice and thick and offers a great roasted malt flavor with the dryness of a good imperial stout. While this is not available all the time, seventh son is big on variety; trying this beer will not disappoint you.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. – Chillwave Double IPA
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Style: American Double / Imperial IPA IBU: 80 ABV: 9.40%
Formerly known as Alchemy Hour chillwave is another nod to the tradition of surfing on Lake Erie. While I have not surfed and I find the idea of surfing on Lake Erie to be a little strange, I still wanted to try this IPA and I found it to be exceptional. Chillwave is well balanced with a little extra malt for a smooth mouth feel. Typical of all of Great Lakes beers, this is a great beer and it is from Ohio’s oldest brewpub (1988) as well.
Brian – Pittsburgh PA
Church Brew Works – Pious Monk Dunkel
Location: Pittsburgh PA
IBU – N/A ABV – 5.5%
Starting my list is one of my favorite local (Pittsburgh) beers. The brewery is a located inside a renovated church. It is one of the best brewery locations/ sites I’ve ever seen. Nothing like having the beer kettles at the atlar. This beer is a dark lager first brewed in Munich, Germany over 150 years ago. The beer checks in at a relatively low ABV of 5.5%. This is more of an amber ale than a dark lager. It has a brown/ copper color that boosts malty flavors with caramel notes. This beer is smooth and doesn’t feel like you are drinking molasses.
Six Point Brewery – Resin
Location: Brooklyn NY
IBU – 103 ABV – 9.1%
This beer was brought to me by my father-in-law. He asked for Columbus Double IPA and the store gave him this instead. Unfortunately, Columbus Double IPA is not sold in stores but Resin Six Point is the perfect substitute for an already great beer. This comes in a 4 pack of cans so you have to know you are getting high octane beer at 9.1%. This is a hoppy IPA but not kill your palate hoppy. This beer pours a bright orange color. You can definitely tell it is an IPA through floral and piney aroma with tastes of grapefruit and citrus. For a Double IPA this is remarkably smooth and makes you want to go back for more.
Elysian Brewery – Super Fuzz
Location: Seattle WA
IBU – 45 ABV – 5.4%
This beer is described as a blood orange pale ale. Who actually knows what that means but after tasting I really don’t care that much. Superfuzz loosely reminds me of wheat beers. The only difference is that I actually enjoyed this beer and it does not require a fruit to float in it. This beer pours cloudy yellow/orange and you can smell the citrus, lemon and orange. The reason I probably like this is the citrus taste with the hoppy bitterness without being too sweet. Definitely a good choice if you want a “fruity” beer on a warm summer day.
Victory Brewery – Storm King Stout
Location: Downingtown PA
IBU – N/A ABV – 9.1%
This dark beer was delicious and I could actually enjoy drinking more than one. The pour is slightly short of pitch black. Since it is categorized as an Imperial Stout, it definitely has the mellow coffee taste and hint of chocolate. The beauty of this stout is the subtle hint of hops that comes though. The stout was unusually smooth and didn’t linger on the tongue like most stouts. This beer toes the line between hoppy and stout better than any other beer I have enjoyed.
Flying Dog Brewery – Double Dog
Location: Frederick MD
IBU – 85 ABV – 11.5%
Double Dog is the big winner in my book this year. It had been awhile since I had purchased this mostly due to pricing. This is not a cheap beer but you are paying for high quality and even higher ABV at 11.5%. I was first introduced to this beer quite a few years ago and I tend not to pick up Flying Dog because of all the new beers out there. Well not any more. This easy drinking beer is the reason I like finding good double IPAs to drink. In my eyes, this one sets the standards to which others should follow. It pours cloudy yellowish-orange. Definite aroma of h and flowers in this beer and tastes slightly bitter but is well balanced. And at the end of several, I can continue to drink more and not feel too full. And not see straight! Or drive! I missed you old friend.