2016 was the year the craft beer world exploded in Ontario. Beer is now available at the grocery store, about 3,294 new breweries popped up and hard root beer took the market by storm (as well increase the number of Type 2 diabetes cases ). On the personal front, I hit 2,000 unique beers, started a monthly segment on a talk radio show and crossed off 2 more beers from my bucket list (Utopias and 120 Minute IPA)
So now, we continue the tradition of summing up some of our favourite brews of the last 12 months in no particular order:
Rodenbach Vintage 2013
2015 saw us discover that we actually liked sour beers. This was the first sour we had in 2016 and is now the standard for all other sours out there. The combination of fruity and sour flavour with dank barrel funk made this beer an easy entrant to this list.
Sam Adams Utopias (2012) 10th Anniversary
This was the first bucket list beer that I was able to cross off. With a brewing process unlike any other in the market, this has got to be one of the most unique “beers” I could ever expect to have. This vintage, $700 bottle took 5 people 3 hours to drink. The flavours were so complex I actually came out of retirement to write a post about it. Later in the year I was interviewed about the newest batch of Utopias. Listen Here
When I was in Ottawa earlier this year to visit some friends, I took my ritual detour to Costco in Gattineau. As we all know, Quebec is a different world and there, beer is taxed much less than here. When I was planning that trip, I thought, there has to be a craft brew store over there. Sure enough, a store called Broue Ha Ha showed up in a search. There I found walls of beers I had never heard of. I happened across a series of beers with the same label design and grabbed 4. They were the 4 best beers I had that entire trip. So good, in fact, that when I went back to Ottawa in the summer, I called Broue Ha Ha and asked them to save one of ever Simple Malt they had on the shelf for me. All but one (Scotch Ale) blew me away.
Stone Mocha IPA
No compilation of fantastic beers can be complete without an entry from Stone Brewing. This years best Stone (there were a few up for that title) goes to this mashup of flavours. Who in their right mind would add coffee to an IPA? Greg Koch, that’s who! It was unbelievable; smelled like an IPA and the booty was all mocha porter. I don’t know how they do it but I’m so glad they did.
Mill Street Distillery Root Beer
I know, this is only the second time a non-beer has made it on to my list (Twisted Tea was there in 2015), but damn if this isn’t the best tasting hard root beer out there. This year I tried 13 different root beers in a variety of ways (from the bottle, in a glass, on ice, draught, in a float) and this guy killed it in every department. It’s not too sweet like most are and, for me, has the closest experience to old-fashioned root beer you can find.
Beer Lab Mimosa Gose
A Milo’s exclusive brewery, the team over at Beer Lab are crazy scientists. Their previous beers have seen some crazy combination and this is right up there in level of craziness (crazy, right?) Who doesn’t love a good mimosa on a Sunday morning? And who doesn’t love a good gose? Slap them together and you get this fantastic, refreshing beer. The orange is subtle, the champagne yeast is bubbly and the gose is gosey. I hope they bring it back this summer
Les Trois Mousquetaires Sasion Brett
I discovered last year that I really liked sour ales (in stark contrast to the first time I had one) and I have always like the saison/farmhouse style. So, when I saw that there was a sour saison I jumped at the chance to drink it. I bought one 750ml bottle and split it. Big mistake. I loved it so much I wanted to drink it all, but I’m a nice guy. So I just went back the next day and bought 5 more. They were fantastic over the hot summer months.
Napanee Brewing Wild Ride American Red Ale
You all know Warren, my old college drinking buddy and fellow wrestling fan? Well, he’s from Napanee (the second most famous person to come there) and on a meetup this year, he stopped by the home town brewery and grabbed me a few. From there this magnificent beer came. It’s equal parts smooth, hoppy, sweet, creamy and awesome. I know I say “no particular order” but this is definitely number 1 for 2016.
Forked River Wicked Wench
To go along with this years tradition of “styles that shouldn’t go together”, Wicked Wench is what happens when you take Blackbeerd and age it in Jack Daniel’s barrels. A sour stout, quite possibly the best stout I have ever had in my life. Dark, malty, roasted coffee and chocolate….and sour.
Great Lakes (US) Chillwave DIPA
Only brewed in February, this double IPA has built up a huge following in the Cleveland area. Mark just happened to be there when it was on tap at the brewery and fell in love. However, he was drinking the last keg of the 2016 batch. He hunted down 3 bottles later in the year and allowed me to have one. At 9%, this beer attacks your bitter taste buds and then gives your mouth a huge hug. We drank this 8 months after bottling and it was amazing, I can only imagine what a fresh pint would taste like.