Happy New Beer!

Part One: Best of ’08

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the Internet, I’m subjecting you folks to yet another Best of the Year list. I know, I know. You’ve already been told by “the experts” exactly which movies, music, and books you should buy, consume, and worship. Most of these lists are absolutely useless for two reasons: 1) the so-called experts are idiots and 2) they don’t even mention beer.

Excepting that first reason, this list is different. This list is my eight favorite beers of ’08, in no particular order, because really, how does one say the best stout of the year is better than the best IPA of the year? All of the beers listed below had to meet the following criteria: 1) they had to be on tap at Bailey’s at some point in the last year, 2) they had to be beers I had never tasted before 2008, and 3) they had to kick major ass. Of course, this is all just my opinion, and i”m sure I’ll leave a masterpiece out and someone will call me “crazy” or “idiotic” for not mentioning their favorite. Well, you know what? Go write your own damn list.

Michael’s Eight Favorite Beers of ’08:

  • Allagash Curieux– The definition of great aged Belgian-style beer. Fruity, smooth, plesantly sweet, and sporting a little heat, this trippel aged in bourbon barrels is a dangerous beer for its high alcohol and easy drinkability.
  • Cascade Cuvee de Jongleur– This is the beer that convinced me I could love a sour Flanders-style beer. Ultra-smooth and packed with tart raspberry that builds the longer it sits on the tongue.
  • Firestone Parabola– Smoky, roasted, bitter, chocolaty, boozy… this beer has more flavors than there are words to describe them.  Suffice it to say, it’s a masterpiece of a beer, and at 13% ABV, a monster of one at that.
  • Fish Old Woody (Cask)– I have not yet had a better beer on cask. Flavors that would normally be too sharp or biting for my taste get smoothed out here, resulting in an incredibly complex old ale bursting with caramel, oakiness, tart fruit and spice that is ridiculously easy going down.
  • Fort George South– Is it a Wit? Is it a lambic? No one knows what this beer is, except that it’s delicious. Aged in raspberries and fermented with a wit yeast, this is one smooth, delicious Belgian fruit beer.
  • Lompoc Monster Mash– Candy chocolate sweetness and oh-so-rich and creamy. Everything I’ve ever loved in a dark beer. Technically, this is an Imperial Porter, but when it’s on Nitro, you can just call it Ambrosia.
  • Ninkasi Oatis– I stand behind my original review: this is the best oatmeal stout I’ve ever had. So chewy, chocolatey, and just plain lip-smacking delicious.
  • Russian River Pliny the Elder– Pliny’s been around for awhile, but this was the first year I’d had it. There are plenty of spectacular runners-up for the best Imperial IPA of the year, but Russian River takes top honors for balancing Pliny’s sweet malt and sour hoppiness so perfectly.

Close runners-up included Terminal Gravity’s Breakfast Porter, Double Mountain Molten Lava, Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Alaskan Smoked Porter 2006, Lompoc’s C-Note on Nitro, North Coast Pranqster, Bison Farmhouse, and too many more to name…

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