Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beers of the Year - 2007

Well it's the time of year where everyone releases their "Best of" year end list. Beer on the Brain is no exception, and I like to think that our list is more valuable then the schlock they're peddling in mainstream press. Hell, you can print this list out, run to the liquor store, and pretty much guarantee yourself a good night; that beats gambling on a critic's movie choice from the Village Voice.

All of these beers have been recommended in some capacity throughout the year, either in seasonal picks, "beer of the week," or "beer of the weekend." So without further ado:

1. Unibroue 16 - Unibroue: Chambly, Quebec

I don't know if it was a new distribution deal, a newfound appreciation for this brewery among the beer elite in Madison, or a set of Canadian blinders I was wearing up until 2007, but to me, 2007 was the year of Unibroue. The "16" is easily one of the best beers I have ever had: rich in that Unibroue house yeast and heavy in alcohol. I look forward to "17" with great anticipation.

Full Review

2. Ambergeddon - Ale Asylum: Madison, WI

"Our amber can beat up your IPA." Such is the brewhouse motto for Ale Asylum's Ambergeddon, and let me assure you, it's true. This perfect balance of malt and hops is a beer lovers dream to which I return over and over. It swells my heart with pride that this unique brew hails from Madison and can compete with the West Coast's best.

Full Review

3. Brother Tim's Tripel Belgian - Lake Louie: Arena, WI

Yet another beer in the Belgian style that is both delicious and not produced in Belgium. Off the beaten path of flavor and geography, Arena's Lake Louie does it right with so many beers on their roster it's hard to single one out. Yet another winner from the great state of Wisconsin.

Full Review

4. Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout - Leinenkugel's: Chippewa Falls, WI
Fine, it's a macro-brew, but at least it's still made by the family, and honestly, it's damn tasty. God bless Miller for supporting Leine's efforts to produce big quality beers that will once again make the Northwoods proud. Speaking of Northwoods, Earth to Leine's, BRING BACK NORTHWOODS LAGER!

Full Review

5. Don de Dieu - Unibroue: Chambly, Quebec

The only brewery to make the list twice, Unibroue is on fire. This one isn't too removed from the "16," which is probably one reason I like it, but it's available in normal bottles and more widely distributed. A fruity strong wheat ale, the "Don" is the don of beer sophistication.

Full Review

6. Samuel Adams Octoberfest- Boston Beer Company: Boston, MA

One of the best in the business, the Boston Beer Company is the national microbrew. Their Octoberfest is uniquely American, and yet still within the bounds of the Oktoberfest style. Any German who doesn't believe that Americans can make a good beer or a good Oktoberfest needs to Halt die Klappe and have a Sam.

Full Review

7. Lefthand Oktoberfest - Lefthand Brewing Company: Longmont, CO

Another American Oktoberfest, this time from yet another part of the country not known for its Germanic heritage. Lefthand makes unique beers, and the Oktoberfest is no exception. Not as clean as the Germans, but complex, flavorful, and delicious.

Full Review

8. Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Company - Chico, CA

The only IPA on the list, this beer perhaps reveals both my bias against rediculous hop bombs, and the strength of the Sierra Nevada stable. A tweak on their common Pale Ale, this seasonal sets a standard for all other IPAs to achieve. A floral aromatic and strong IPA, Sierra strikes again.

Full Review

9. Capital Winter Skal - Capital Brewing - Middleton, WI

Another beer from near Wisconsin's Capitol, Capital's Skal reminds me of a smooth Sam Adams. It's like what Sam Adams winter should taste like, but from a small regional brewer just 5 minutes from my office. The rest of their beer isn't half bad either.

Full Review

10. Chimay Grande Réserve - Chimay, Belgium

This is the only beer from outside of North America to make the list, so take that "old Europe." It's not that the Europeans can't still make good beer, they do, but the Americans are taking their cultural heritage, tweaking it, and coming out with something truly great, which is what they usually do to us. Chimay is a pillar of old world beer, producing 3 quality brews still made by monks, and available all over the world.

Full Review

Honorable mention: Lakefront Holiday Spice, Spaten Oktoberfest, Mojo IPA

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