A Drink Down Beer Memory Lane

Top 5 beers

Even though 2010 is behind us, we at Brewpublic have been reminiscing about some of the best beers we drank last year already. We asked a few of our closest Beer Geek friends to send us a list of their top 5 beers of 2010. With hoping to get as many responses as possible, we held off on putting up the lists until we were sure we got all if not most of them in (sorry if we missed you!).

From reviewing the lists, it appears that Cascade Brewing was the definite standout among folks from 2010. Coming in high with mentions were also Upright Brewing, Block 15, Double Mountain, Barley Brown’s and Deschutes (in about that order for Oregon beer).

Without further adieu, here is what people had to say really stood out for them in 2010.

Angelo De Ieso
People love lists and we the beer geeks are no exception, so here’s a handful of my faves from 2010. Beer, like music and food is a passion for which enthusiasts appreciate variety. That being said, these top 5’s are perhaps just a microcosm of the many wonderful brews I’ve thoroughly appreciated throughout the past year:

Cascade sour beers – too many to pick a favorite, but the complex and inviting tartness along with fruit and barrel profiles were simply my favorite of 2011. Stand outs included Sour Blueberry Wheat, Bourbonic Plague, Vlad the Impaler, Noyeaux, Kriek, and all the quenching Goses. On top of all this, who doesn’t love Ron Gansberg. He’s an impassioned and all around awesome man.

Upright Brewing – Not afraid to take chances and often pulling it off puts Upright at the top of this year’s brews again. Four Play, Fatali Four, Late Harvest, Redwood Lager and the go-to Five are prime examples of the magic that Alex Ganum and Gerritt Ill are orchestrating down in the basement of the Leftbank Building in Northeast Portland.

Barley Brown’s – While many trending beer lovers will tell you that big hops are out of vogue, Barley Brown’s little four barrel brew house keeps putting forth some amazing hopped up offerings that showcase both sharp bitterness and divine aromatic qualities ranging from dankly resinous to aromatically floral. Turmoil CDA, WFO IPA, and Disorder Stout…OMFG! Shawn Kelso is a savant when it comes to lupulin and his GABF medals are the proof in the pudding.

Block 15 – Speaking of pudding, did any holiday beer in the Northwest captivate our imaginations this year such as Block 15’s Figgy Pudding. And the enterprising spirit of owner Nick Arzner and brewmaster Steve van Rossem is unabashedly forward thinking. From wild ales to hop mammoths, B15 is always pushing the envelope and most often coming out above board, The artisan sustainably minded food options and outstanding customer service by a staff of friendly people at the Corvallis brewpub make them an obvious choice. A trip down to the cellar of Block 15 is something not soon forgotten–a real treasure.

Oakshire – Ever since brewer Matt Van Wyk came to Oregon from his Midwest homeland, he’s injected more of a sense of adventure and undeniable know-how in the scene. Like most of the aforementioned artists, Matt’s brought three solid dimensions to craft beer. From the architectural, imaginative, and commercial understanding of beer, juxtaposing it with foods, and putting himself and Jeff Althouse’s fine brewery out there Matt over the last year has won the hearts and palate of many PacNW beer lovers. Also, lead brewer Joe Jasper is no slouch when it comes to putting forth consistent creative brews. I can see Joe running his own brewery someday, or perhaps continuing Oakshire down the path of humble domination. Some favorites of ‘010 were the Gnome series, the Espresso Stout, and their scrumdittiliumptious Amber. Not a bad beer have I had from the Oakshire folks in the past year, so hats off!

There’s a lot of others I could throw into this list but these five stand out off the top of my head. I could easy put Double Mountain, Widmer, or Pelican on this list as well.

Top 5 non-Oregon breweries: Snipes Mountain, Troegs, Russian River, Weyerbacher, and Avery (again, off the top of my head).

Neil and Angelo
Neil Yarrow (left) & Angelo De Ieso (right)

Neil Yarrow, Belmont Station GM

  • Schlenkerla Oak smoked Dopple Bock:  Schlenkerla, enough said.
  • Upright Brewing Redwood Smoked Lager:  Yeah I helped brew it.
  • Keesman-Brau Herren Pils: Another highlight of Bamberg, Gremany
  • Sierra Nevada Jack and Kens Black Barleywine: Who has even herd of such a thing?

I know it isn’t a beer but it’s worth mentioning
Wandering Angus Wickson Single Varietal: because a cider like this deserves recognition.

Jason Wallace of PDX Beer and Music

PDX Beer and Music

– Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond – best fresh hop
– Dogfish Head Bitches Brew – best out of state
– Hair of the Dog Matt
– Prodigal Son Bruce/Lee Porter – best everyday beer I would drink over and over
– Double Mountain Imperial Chaos

Jeffery Dense – Eastern Oregonian Beer Geek

  • Founder’s Canadian Breakfast Stout, in Washington DC at the Big Hunt. A real treat, lucky to have experienced this.
  • 2008 Stone Imperial Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged at Aces and Ales Lost Wages. Crazy Good.
  • HOTD Little Dog (Matt). Gave new meaning to what a ‘small’ beer could taste like.
  • Cascade Brewing Bourbonic Plague at PIB, from the lab of the Mad Scientist Extraordinaire, Ron Gansburg.
  • Barley Brown’s Head Shake DIPA at Beermonger’s (Growler). Dope.

All of the above are excellent, but the Barley Brown’s Chaos (yeah, that’s right, Chaos) I had from the bright tank tonight in Baker City takes the cake.

Adam Cassie of Burnside Brewing

  • Double Mountain Vaporizer Pale Ale
  • Full Sail Spotless IPA
  • Heater Allen Pils
  • Eleysian Bifrost Winter Brew

Trend noted by Adam:
More breweries now in the US than we had over 100 years ago, well before prohibition (as reported by the Brewers Association).  Can all these brewers get a piece of the pie?  YES!  The pie keeps getting bigger.  Cheers!

Harry Sanger – Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Participate

  • Block 15 – La Ferme de Demons
  • Ninkasi – Maiden the Shade
  • Sierra Nevada – Hopsichord (or the whole 30th series if you want something more accessible)
  • He’Brew – Jewbilation Blend
  • Cascade – Vlad the ImpALEr

Mike Besser of www.brewdad.com

Mike Besser and Greg Koch of Stone
Mike Besser (left) and Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co.
  • Port Brewing Older Viscosity – One big tasty glass of black mass – Coffee, dark roast this was a pure delight.
  • Cascade Vlad the ImpAler – A super beer with incredible fruit and sour balance.
  • Stone 12th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Bitter chocolate Oatmeal stout – Balanced bourbon, chocolate and malt.  This was awesome to drink.  Like drinking a boozed up cookie.
  • Nebraska Brewing Company Reserve Series Black Betty Russian Imperial Stout – Big beer with a superb chocolate and dark malt flavors.  Loved this finish and when it warmed up it gave off such awesome aromas.
  • Double Mountain Terrible Two Bourbon Brown Ale – Big bourbon aroma and flavor then the addition of fruit like flavor this was a treat to drink.

Margaret, Brewpublic Assistant
Block 15 Figgy Pudding
Probably the best holiday beer of the year. I found this beer to be full of many complex flavors that blended to a very enjoyable beer. Hints of figs, spices and brandy barrels makes us all wanting a figgy pudding during Christmas.

Boneyard Bona Fide Pale
I was lucky enough to visit this great new brewery in Bend this past summer and was impressed with their beers. Their pale is a super florally hopped, session beer. Finally, someone figured out that big hop flavor does not have to come from a big beer.

Barley Brown’s Turmoil CDA
2010 GABF Gold medal winner, enough said!

O’Dell’s Mad Beet Farmer
I have never had a beer made with beets before until this year and I’d have to say, I loved it! A bit zesty in the flavor and a little earthy tasting, I loved this beer for its uniqueness and drinkability. As an honorable mention the O’Dell’s Brett Porter was also a very impressive beer.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
A very crisp, refreshing Saison that has a lovely citrus characteristic coming from the hops and the yeast too.

Ginger Johnson of www.womenenjoyingbeer.com
Ginger Johnson

– Full Sale Session – was a classic from the moment I tried it & still rates high.

– Stone’s Smoked Porter w/Vanilla – oh my gosh – tried it today, then tried it in a milkshake. Deevine.

– Standing Stone Brewing Co’s Pilot Rock Pale – new to the fray at SSBC.

– Napa Smith’s Wheat – refreshing, delicious

– Goose Island Demolition, Belgian Style Golden – uber yummy, really pronounced yeast contribution

Ben Kilduff – Brewpublic Guest Writer
Ben Kilduff

Foothills Brewing – Sexual Chocolate

New Belgium Brewing – Ranger IPA

Upright Brewing – Billy the Mountain

Cascade Brewing – Bourbonic Plague

Firestone Walker Brewing – Parabola

Joel Rea of The Corvallis Home Brewing Supply Store

  • Heater-Allen – Pilsner
  • Block 15 – Figgy Pudding
  • Oakshire Brewing – Three Hearted
  • Southern Tier Brewing Co. – Iniquity Imperial Black Ale
  • Mikkeller – Beer Geek Brunch

Sean White, Alameda Brewer

Sean White
New Belgium – Eric’s Ale

Upright Seven – (new recipe tweak)

Alameda – Maupin Mild

Double Mountain – 2010 Devil’s Kriek

Block 15 –  Ferme De Demo

Tim Ensign of Mountain People Disturbing
1. Sierra Nevada Estate Harvest Ale- After living in Chico for 9 years I became a huge fan of Sierra Nevada, especially their Fresh Hop Harvest Ale. This was the second vintage of this beer made with ALL estate grown Hops & Barley, last year’s really disappointed me with a lack of hop character but the 2010 vintage was amazing. As a small scale farmer, I think the concept of what they are doing with this beer is inspiring.

Tim Ensign
2. Block 15 Figgy Pudding- Brewer Nick Arzner makes some amazing beers at Block 15 in Corvallis and this is just another great example. I tried this (a few times) at the Holiday Ale Fest and it is just delicious! Figgy Pudding is an English strong ale matured in brandy barrels and conditioned with figs and a touch of spice.

3. Fort George Omegatex Imperial IPA- This brew is from Fort George, one of Oregon’s best up and coming breweries. They produce Vortex IPA one amazing beast of an IPA at 7.5abv with so much hops it’s bigger than many imperial IPA’s out there, so they decided to brew an imperial version for the Pacific NW Brewcup and they nailed it, at over 9%abv this hop monster was just delicious!

4. Blue Frog 10th Anniversary Barrel aged Imperial Stout- This smaller brewery out of Fairfield, CA has gone under the radar of most Oregonians due to the limited quantity of beer that makes it here. We were lucky enough to grab 40 cases of this 10.5%abv monster that was aged in wine cask for 16 months. This beer has smooth layers of dark malt, is slightly sour, and oh so delicious.

5. El Toro Awesome IPA- After El Toro made it into the Oregon market this year I have been reminded of how amazing their beers are. Brewer/Owner Geno’s Acevedo Awesome IPA is a true testament to the hop with over 4lbs per barrel and at only 6.5%abv this is one of the most flavorful best uses of hops out there. Medium bitterness with HUGE hop flavor (take that Pliny)……

Josh Grgas, Bartender at The BeerMongers

  • Block 15 – La Ferme De La Ville Provision
  • Bruery – Melange #3
  • Cascade – Noyeaux
  • Marin – Barrel Aged Old Dipsea with Brett
  • Hair of the Dog – Fred Batch #2

Jesses McCann, Owner of Apex

  • Alpine – Duet
  • Cascade – Summer Gose
  • El Toro – Deuce
  • Goose Island – Bourbon County
  • Alpine – Nelson

Ritch Marvin (SNOB poster boy)

Ritch Marvin

– Hebrew – RIPA on Rye

– Stone – Sublimely Self Righteous Ale

– Firestone Walker – Parabola

– Dogfish Head – Bitches Brew
– Coalator Cascadian Revolution (if I can’t vote for my own beer I’ll add Black Butte XXII to the list)

Eric Steen of www.beerandscifi.com

  • Ninkasi S’leighr
  • Cascade (i forget the name but i think it started with a “B” and was bourbon aged)
  • Upright Gose
  • Hopworks Secession
  • Double Mountain Vaporizer

Matthew DiTullo, Guest Writer and Video man for Brewpublic
Matt DiTullo

– Portsmouth Brewing 2009 Kate the Great

– Captain Lawrence Rosse e Morrone

– Hair of the Dog Adam From the Wood

– 3 Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek

– The Bruery Black Tuesday

Jim Fick, from General Disturbing

  • Deschutes The Abyss
  • Ninkasi Oatmeal Stout
  • Oakshire Watershed IPA
  • Fish Brewing Co 10-Squared
  • Ninkasi S’leighr

DJ Paul, Guest Writer for Brewpublic
DJ Paul

– Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Ale – A superb stout from a superb brewery. Have a few bottles aging for future enjoyment. Here’s to another 30 years!
– Double Mountain Devil’s Kriek – A more cherry forward example of this style but with Brett this beer comes off very strong.
– Oakshire Mud Puddle 100% Organic Chocolate Porter – Brewed for the 2010 North American Organic Brewers Festival, this 100% organic beer infused organic cocoa nibs into a nice, deep rich porter. Hope that this one gets placed on the brewing schedule again.
– H.U.B. Abominable Winter Ale – Is it Bumble from Rudolph that attracted me to this beer or is it the piney, citrus forwardness of this winter beer to help you through the dreary winter days of the Pacific Northwest?
– Rock Bottom-Chicago German Pils – This beer was brewed for the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference held in Chicago. This finely brewed Pilsner used German grown hops from the German Hop Growers Association to produce a nice spicy, citrusy hop nose with a noticeable Pilsner malt back to it. This beer was quite tasty with enough hops to make it a delight for this hophead.

Honorable Mention: Spaten Oktoberfest – How can you beat the first beer you drank at the 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest? The setting of listening to Oom-pah bands alongside others in lederhosen and the beautiful ladies in dirndls makes it that much memorable. Looking forward to my return visit sometime down the road.

Brady Walen of the www.dailypull.com

  • Great Divide 16th Anniversary Oak Aged Double IPA
  • Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
  • Upright Fatali Four
  • Full Sail Colesch
  • Fort George Murky Pearl

Yetta Vorobik, Owner of The Hop and Vine

  • Nils Oskar Rokporter
  • Birrificio Le Baladin Wayan
  • Mikkeller Wine Barrel Aged Black Hole
  • Chuckanut Brewing Marzen
  • Upright Old Tom’s Barrel Aged Anniversary Ale

Sarah and Yetta
Sarah Pederson (left) and Yetta Vorobik (right)

Sarah Pederson, Owner of Saraveza

  • Block 15 Ferme De Demons Black Farmhouse
  • Sierra Nevada Ken and Jack’s 30th Barleywine
  • Cascade Summer Gose
  • Duvel Tripel Hop
  • Upright Apricot

Last but not least we have a few top 5 beers lists from Ben Edmunds, brewer at Breakside Brewery (just because he is an overachiever and tried a lot of great beer this year!)

Ben Edmunds

Top Oregon Beers

– Upright Four Play
– Oakshire Three Hearted Strong
– Block 15 Love Potion #9
– Cascade Bailey’s Quadratic Formula
– Deschutes The Abyss 2010

Best Non-Oregon Beers Available in Oregon

  • Firestone Walker Parabola
  • Schmaltz Jewbelation Blend (@ Holiday Ale Festival)
  • Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter
  • Walking Man Leonard’s B(l)ender (@ Belmont Station event for Jacob Leonard)
  • AleSmith Decadence 2010

Best Beers That I Tasted That Were Not Commercially Available in OR

  • Short’s Brewing Spruce Pilsner
  • Cambridge Brewing The Colonel (Sour Porter)
  • Dry Dock Seven Seas Double IPA
  • Odell Saboteur (Brett Brown)
  • New Glarus Gueuze

Best Beers That Were Not New in 2010 That I Had for the First Time and Wowed Me

  • McKenzie Brewhouse Saison Vautour
  • Pizza Port Good Grief Brown
  • JW Lees Harvest Ale 2002
  • Birrificio Barley BB Dexi
  • Birrificio Le Baladin Xyauyu 2006