Stillwater Artisanal and De Struise are two brewers I've had very little from. In the past year I've seen a lot of Stillwater beers pop up on shelves at different liquor stores everywhere I've traveled. It turns out Stillwater, like Mikkeller, doesn't have a brewery of their own, so their beers are all collaborations that are brewed at a someone else's brewery. De Struise is a Belgian craft brewer that I've heard a lot of great things about but I've only had one of two beers that have carried their label. I'm excited to try this beer, but I'm not entirely sure what to expect... after all, the bottle just says it's a 10% ABV Belgian ale that was brewed with barley, oats, wheat, rye, hops, sugar and yeast. So, a lot of stuff, but nothing crazy.
The more I drink Troegs beer the more I enjoy it. I've still only had an admittedly small number of their beers, but what I have had has been great. When I talk to others about Troegs there's one beer that keeps getting mentioned as their best and it's called Mad Elf. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a bottle of Mad Elf during the Christmas season, so it took a little hunting to find a bottle. This is a beer that's released in November, so it's been sitting around for about 7 or 8 months. It's a big 11% Strong Ale though, so I'm willing to bet it's held up just fine.
I'm starting to appreciate living in an area where Brooklyn beers are available. I may have only had a few but they've been pretty good. My favorite so far has to be the Local 1 I had a couple weeks ago. It was a beer I've wanted to try for quite a while and it surpassed my expectations, it was really great. What I didn't know is that there is another Local big bottle out there, the obviously named Local 2. Local 1 was a light sort-of Tripel/Golden Ale, while Local 2 is a Strong Dark Ale with lots of Belgian flavor. I didn't hesitate to pick up Local 2 when I saw it at the liquor store last weekend.
21st Amendment is an interesting brewery. I had the pleasure of visiting their brewpub in San Francisco last year and I really enjoyed it. It's a tiny little place with about a dozen different beers on tap at a time. 21st Amendment doesn't bottle, but they do can their beer for export to other markets. Since my trip to San Francisco I've managed to have a few more 21st Amendment beers and I've liked each one better than the last. I have heard a lot of good things about the Monk's Blood, a Belgian style Strong Ale, and I can't wait to try it. I really like the Belgian styles, but I've never had one out of a can before... this should be interesting.
Lost Abbey has a reputation for brewing great beer. I've only been lucky enough to try a few of their beers while on vacation. What few Lost Abbey beers I've had, I've enjoyed quite a bit but I haven't bothered to bring any bottles home with me until recently. I would've loved to bring one bottle of each Lost Abbey beer home but I didn't feel like sleeping on the couch for a month, so I narrowed my prospects down and picked up a bottle of Angel's Share. It is a limited release beer and carried a premium price but I was told it was worth it.
One of my favorite beers of 2010 was Bell's Batch 9000. It was a beer that tasted like nothing I'd had before. It was extremely rich, sweet and strong. I only had one six pack of the Batch 9000 and those bottles didn't last very long between sharing and my own gluttony, so it seemed like the 9,000 was gone before I got to fully appreciate it. I wanted more, but there simply wasn't any... Here we are, 8 months later, and Bell's final batch series beer is out on shelves. I jumped at the chance to get two six packs of the Batch 10,000 before it too was gone forever.
This first time I had Raison D'Être was in Vegas. I've been to Vegas twice, the trips were a decade apart. After the end of the first day back in Vegas I thought to myself, "Alright, I've had enough of Vegas for another ten years..." There's something very temporary about Vegas, probably all the fake architecture or fake parties. I did my best to find decent craft beer on the strip but it was harder than you'd expect. The macro brew over-saturation was disappointing but not nearly as bad as Sin City Brewing. It says a lot about your craft brewery when you offer four styles and one is a Light... We finally found a couple quality beer places by the second day and the first decent beer I had in Vegas was Dogfish's Raison D'Être.
Brother Thelonious is a beer I first discovered in the dead of winter, about three years ago. I was just getting serious about craft beer, I'd always liked trying new styles and new beers but it wasn't quite a hobby yet. When I first saw the Brother Thelonious I thought it was incredibly clever. A Belgian abbey style beer, something traditionally made by monks, named in honor of Thelonious Monk. Clever indeed. So I ordered that first bottle, took a sip and I completely was sold on this beer. I remember it being dark and sweet with a little kick. Since I try to only review beers I've never had before, I sort of put off reviewing the Brother Thelonious until now. I was feeling a little Jazzy today so I decided to grab this bottle from the fridge and see how my opinion of the Brother Thelonious has changed, if at all.
Odell makes good beer. Not many people who argue that point. The most frustrating and disappointing part of Odell's beers are their price point. Great beers aren't cheap to make, just look at the price tags on Dogfish Head and Russian River bottles. Actually, neither Dogfish or Russian River are available every where so not everyone may be aware of this, but it does bring up yet another point... Great beer is in great demand. $20 a bottle isn't unheard for a bottle of wine, in fact it's even considered a bargain in most circles. For beer however, $20 is a steep barrier to entry for most people. Some of Odell's more premium beers top out at $25 for a 750 at my local liquor store. Honestly, that's a little too premium for me. I'd love to try those beers but I can't commit at that price. This bottle of Deconstruction Golden Ale (which is a more modest $12 or $15 depending on your retailer) has just convinced me I need to save up for Odells highest tier of ales.
Collaboration Not Litigation is the product of blending two production beers from different breweries, both of which are named Salvation. The name is said to be a tribute to the collaborative nature of craft brewers, because in any other industry there probably would have been cease and desist orders issued by one party or the other. One of the most interesting parts of this beer is the fact that it's a blend of two fairly well established beers. Two beers that already have followers and quite well regarded in their own right. Blending those two beers together sounds risky, but it also sounds like a lot of fun. This beer has a great story behind it, hopefully the actual beer is as much fun to drink.