The people have spoken. Here’s what some brewers, beer geeks, and bloggers have to say about the best beers of 2009.
Sarah Pederson – Owner, Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern. Portland, Oregon.
Fort George Spank – Chocolate heat…and its real heat.
Lagunita’s Sumpin Extra – Most unique, drinkable and refreshing beer i had…such great timing in the summer. (no the imperial version)
Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler – One of my all time favorite beers for sure. Unfortunately it was so limited we couldn’t get our hands on much…most people were deprived.
Barley Brown’s Fresh Hop – The wildest fresh hop I had this year. you could tell they got their hands on some different kinds of hops!!!
New Belgium Tart Lychee – Almost juice, but still definitely beer. Luscious…so tart and spiced with cinnamon!
Gordon “El Gordo” Feighner – former/longtime Belmont Station employee. Portland, Oregon.
1. Upright Four – just in sheer terms of quantity consumed.
2. Laughing Dog Alpha Dog Imperial IPA – tons o’ hops!
3. Cantillon St. Lamvinus – sampled at the brewery in Brussels!
4. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – in my top five every year.
5. Bridgeport Fallen Friar – one of the best American interpretations of a tripel I’ve ever had.
Amy Forma Marvin – beer geek, S.N.O.B. Portland, Oregon.
Hmm… in no particular order
Great Divide Espresso Yeti
Upright Turkey on Rye
Saison Dupont – Avec Le Bon Voux (at the pub)
Deschutes Black Butte XXI
Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin
Ritch Marvin – 2009 S.N.O.B. poster boy, homebrewer, all around lover of craft beer. Portland, Oregon
1. Firestone Walker 13
2. North Coast Old Rasputin
3. Three Floyds Gumball Head
4. Southern Oregon Brewing Na Zdravi
5. Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
Amber Lin Jansen – from 2BeerGuys.com and Angelo’s Maine-iac friend since childhood. It is fitting that she shares the name of a beer style.
#1 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada~
The long, cold nights of winter are a little brighter with Celebration® Ale. Wonderfully robust and rich, Celebration® Ale is dry-hopped for a lively, intense aroma. Brewed especially for the holidays, it is perfect for a festive gathering or for a quiet evening at home. (From Sierra Nevada web-site)
“…best beer ever made in America.”
– Stan Sessor, San Francisco Chronicle
#2 Sam Smith’s Organic Cherry Beer from Samuel Smith Old Brewery ~
5.1%…DELICIOUS! I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner and it was a HUGE hit…even the beer drinkers in the group loved it!
#3 Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn Brewery ~
It is a Russian Imperial Stout and is 10.10 %…yum yum yum…It has a wonderful chocolaty flavor with notes of sweet malts, molasses and dark fruit….we have this on special ocassions and when we want a REALLY good beer!
#4 Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head ~
This beer is a 12% abv, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the Palo Santo wood. It was a huge hit at our Rehoboth Beach brewpub when first released in November of 2006, Palo went into full production at the end of 2007. (From the Dogfish Head web-site)
My husband and I attended a beer dinner at the Portsmouth Brewery (NH) this year with the owner of Dogfish Head, Sam Calagione and his wife along with the head brewer Tod Mott and many other noteworthy beer lovers. We really enjoyed the Palo Santo!
#5 Rochefort Trappist 10 from Rochefort Brewery (Brasserie de Rochefort)
Rochefort is a Belgian Trappist Brewery. This brewery is operated by Trappist Monks to finacially support the monastary and other good causes. They only make 3 beers. The 6, 8 and 10. The beers go up in ABV as the numbers get higher. The 10 is 11.3% ABV.
I first had this beer in a small pub in Belgium with my Husband and good friend Ignace. It has since become a treat in my home ever since.
Tyler Vickers – Bartender, Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern.
“It all begins and ends with Pliny.” -TV
-Russian River Pliny the Elder
-Fort George Vortex
-Victory Prima Pils
-Upright Reggae Junkie Gruit
Shawn Loring – Owner, brewer, Lazy Boy Brewing. Everett, Washington.
Have a Happy New Year! Sorry for the late response. Here are my favorites in no particular order.
Big Time IPA
Black Raven’s Pale Ale
Silver City Scotch Ale
Amanda Erickson – beer fan and cheese nerd, founder of FUCheese.com, a great site dedicate to craft cheese. Portland, Oregon.
Over the past year I’ve gotten way in to pairing beer and cheese. I’ve put on a few tastings for both friends and paying clients and here’s a few amazing standouts: a sour tart cherry beer with a stinky, moldy cheese like the Kriek from Cascade Brewing paired with a robust swiss or a gruyere. The Hazelnut Brown from Rogue is not a rare beer but it is a standout pairing for a lot of different cheeses. I have had this with a super-creamy, nutty Robiola from Italy and with a local feta that you can find in farmer’s markets in Oregon from Alsea Acres. You wouldn’t think those would work together but the feta is pretty unique, creamy, light, not too salty or dry. At a pairing put on by Steve’s Cheese & Saraveza, I had the Diabolito from Hopworks (HUB) — it was described as a Belgian Small — paired with the excellent Elk Moutain aged farmstead goat cheese from Pholia Farms in Southern Oregon — sooo good. I wrote about these pairings and others at http://www.fucheese.com. It’s been a good year!
Marc Demeule – Brewpublic’s Quebec, Canada correspondent. Montreal, Quebec.
Here is my top 5 list for 2009:
1- New Belgium – Falling Rock
2- Beer Valley Brewery – Black Flag (At the Fresh Hop tastival)
3- Russian River – Temtpation (you share it at the party. Many thanks!)
4- Beer Valley brewery – Leafer Madness
5- The Bobcat Café (Vermont) – App-Gap IPA
Unfortunately, no beers from Quebec in that list.
Maybe I should publish a top 5 from our breweries…Salut!
Nick Arzner – Owner, brewer, Block 15 Brewing. Corvallis, Oregon.
Now that’s a tough one! I will leave out any Block 15 picks
5) Northwest Brewpubs IPA’s. Lets be honest here, we are lucky to live in the NW where a damn fine fresh IPA is usually only a brewpub away!
4) Cascade’s Gold Yeller. Awesome straight forward sour golden full of life. Didn’t drink nearly enough of this fine ale.
3) Ale Smiths Wee Heavy. Normally not a big hearty malty guy, but damn this beer changed the way I think about Wee Heavies.
2) Black Albert brewed by De Struise Brouwers. Belgian Imperial Stout? Hell yes! Cleaned out my local bottle shop.
1) Rodenbach Grand Gru, you just cant beat this $10 bottle of sour love
Barnacle Brian – Columbia Distributing, lover of craft beer. Portland, Oregon.
My name is Barnacle Brian, I love Craft beer to the point of working for Columbia Distributing, so I can get my foot in the door of an industry I truly believe in.
Top five? Damn! Here’s my picks:
Alaskan Brewing – Baltic Porter
Russian River – Pliney The Elder
Oakshire Brewing – Overcast Espresso Stout
Hopworks Urban Brewery – Survival Stout
Russian River – Consecration
Joseph “Joe” Middleton – Oregon Brew Crew, cat whisperer. Portland, Oregon.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Miller High Life
Budweiser American Ale
Ken Fisher – United States Postal Service employee, experienced homebrewer. Portland, Oregon.
I’ve been a homebrewer since ’88.
1. Jaipuir IPA, in England.
2 New Glarius Raspberry Tart.
3 Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve.
4 Marston’s Pedigree.
5 Rogue’s Brutal Bitter, on Cask! Wee bit of heaven in a pint glass!
Carl Almond – novice homebrewer. Montana native living in Corvallis, Oregon.
My five (in order):
Cascade Brewing—Five Barrel Thread
Had this with a good friend (who had never before had a sour) in from Phoenix for Fresh Hop/Killer Beer Fest. We both got just one before it blew. Him: “We’ve got to find that somewhere else in town!” Me: “Uh…no dice, brother.” We’ll always have the memory–unique and just outstanding.
Dogfish Head—120 Minute IPA (Vintage 2004)
This would have been my number one had the Cascade blown 10 minutes earlier–cracked it in June with good friends at my home in Corvallis. I’m not really a fan of fresh 120–too cloyingly sweet, too boozy. The years had really mellowed this one, though–the heat had faded, and the caramelly sweetness was more balanced with still-evident hops. We all agreed it was one of the best beers we’d ever had–amazing.
Visited Upright by bike post-Fresh Hop, pre-Killer Beer Fest in October (it was quite a day). Got an informal tour and tried all the beers–what a great spot. The #7 is somehow rich and dry all at once–I couldn’t get enough.
Kept telling my buddies at Fresh Hop that Roadside was like drinking fresh grass clippings–what a crazy beer. I thought it was the standout of the Fest.
Carter’s Brewing—Dry-Hopped Derailed IPA
Carter’s is a fairly new brewery in my hometown of Billings, MT–a bartender there told me the owner/brewer apprenticed at Pelican in Pacific City. The dry-hopped Derailed kept calling me back the whole week I spent there in August–clearly a Pac NW-inspired IPA, it was Cascade-heavy and super-fresh–I about wore the growler out. Montana keeps churning out some seriously good beer!
Chris Devlin – The Beer Retard (one of the best beer blogs in the Northwest). His mission is “taking beer back from the douches since 2008.” http://beerretard.com . Chris also is a lackey at Bottleworks. Seattle, Washington.
…almost impossible to pick just five given how many beers I’ve tried, but I’ll give it a go. In no particular order:
1. Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond – During a weekend of amazing fresh hop beers in Portland (at the Fresh Hop Tastival at Oaks Park, Belmont Station & Bailey’s), this was the best. That’s saying something considering there were at least a half dozen others that were among the best hoppy beers I’ve ever had.
2. Hair of the Dog Matt – One of two Bottleworks 10th Anniversary beers. Somehow, Mr. Sprints took Adam and made him even better. I’ve heard several people say that this beer begs to be enjoyed with a good cigar. I’m not a cigar guy, but I get it.
3. Leipziger Gose – The $20+ price tag almost kept me from buying a bottle, but I had to try a gose. Salt, wheat, coriander & lactic acid bacteria = tart, refreshing and delicious. Maybe the perfect summer beer.
4. Baird Kurofune Porter – One of the best porters I had all year. Maybe not a crap-your-pants wow beer, but makes the list because finding a great porter from Japan was so unexpected.
5. Caldera Rose Petal Imperial Golden Ale – When I heard this was made with 11 pounds of rose petals and two liters of Bulgarian rose water, I thought there was no way I’d like it. Perfumey, potpourri beer is what I figured. Nope, this was something way more than that. The rose flavor came through in a good way. One of the most interesting beers I’ve ever come across.
Honorable mentions: Firestone Walker Double Jack, Firestone Walker XIII, Founder’s Canadian Breakfast Stout, Hopworks Ace of Spades, Oakshire Harvest Ale, Barley Brown’s Roadside IPA, Chuckanut Rauchbier, Bell’s Hopslam, Hanssens Gueuze, Russian River Sanctification, Weihenstephaner Festbier, Smuttynose Robust Porter and so many more…
Bill – It’s Pub Night. Portland, Oregon.
Here are my top five beers of 2009:
5. Upright Five
4. Widmer 84/09 Double Alt
3. Hopworks Ace of Spades
2. Hair of the Dog Matt
1. Deschutes Fresh-hopped Mirror Pond
I know the Mirror Pond isn’t a “new” beer, but it’s one of the finest beer-drinking experiences I can think of.
Jeff Alworth – Beervana blog. Portland, Oregon.
I haven’t yet pit together a list of my best ofs for the year–from which I choose my annual Satori winner. Off hand I’d say Upright Four, Full Sail LTD 3 and Session Black, Cascade’s 09 Sang Noir and Kriek, Oakshire Espresso Stout, that hoppy beer from Double Mountain this summer … Jeez, too many. And that’s just off the top of my head.
Charles Culp – An Ear for Beer
Not necessarily in this order…
Upright Brewing Five
Double Mountain Dapper Dan
Upright Brewing Fatali Four
Hopworks Urban Brewery Ace of Spades Double IPA
Russian River Consecration
Christine Jump – Craft Brew Cast. Portland, Oregon.
Top 5 -hm, okay, off the top of my head
Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws
Firestone Walker 13 Anniversary
Ommegang Hennepin – a long time favorite that I never tire of.
Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout
Rogue’s Chocolate Imperial Stout
Man if I thought about this for awhile there’d probably be 5 different beers up there.
But then, You’d probably never get a list from me on time.
Jami Landeros -homebrewer, future commercial brewer. Portland, Oregon.
I had so many great beers this year that it is so hard to pick! I’m pretty sure I would have an easier time picking musicians than beer.
1. The first really amazing beer I had this year was Rogue’s XS: Old Crustacean Barleywine. I recieved a bottle of it as part of a Valentine’s Day present of beer. At first sip I was hooked, and feeling a nice warm buzz about half way through it.
2. Root’s Organic Brewery’s Chocolate-Habanero Stout comes in second for beers I enjoyed this year. It’s an interesting combination of chocolaty goodness and spice. It’s not really a beer I like to sit down and enjoy, but it is great for baking. From pancakes to bread and more I had a lot of fun experimenting with this beer.
3. Lindemans’ Lambic Framboise. This beer replaced the usual wine my family enjoys during holiday dinners.
4. MacTarnahan’s Hum Bug’r
5. Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Wild Raspberry Ale.
My relationship to beer for now is just as a hobby, I home-brew, but I am going to school to get a degree in brewing so I can make a career out of it.
Shawn Kelso – Head brewer, Barley Brown’s BrewPub. Baker City, Oregon.
I would have to say all of Barley Brown’s beers. I know they make more than five but…
Seriously, I would have to say Barley Brown’s Roadside Ale. It is what a true fresh hop or green hop beer should taste like. My relationship to the beer is I brewed it. It was very unique to make since I used all local wild grown hops. We have received a huge response by Portlanders saying it was there favorite fresh hop beer for the year.
Let’s see…. Bell’s Exhibition Stout “05” that beer was a dream, Widmer W10 was a nice beer, Lauelwood Wrye Pale Ale was very drinkable, I also liked 10 Barrel Sinister Black Ale. Those are the ones that pop in my head that I didn’t brew.
Ezra Johnson-Greenough aka Samurai Artist – local beer artist, brewer, promoter, amateur writer and runner-up best bartender of the year for Upright Brewing.
Upright Brewing: Fatali Four
A supremely well balanced beer weighing the sublime fruitiness and heat of the Fatali chili peppers with the refreshing dry zing of the beers natural tartness and lemon-pepper qualities.
Double Mountain: Killer Green
This beer has been a hit for awhile but I thought this years, the 3rd I believe was the best.
It is all about the hops and piles them on while always catching the subtle fresh floral and citrus qualities of wet hops. This one managed to do that while remaining clean and not overly “green” or bitter.
Sierra Nevada Celebration
A lot of people take SN and this beer for granted. I know I did. I have always thought Celebration was solid but this year I learned a whole new appreciation for it. A lot of people like to age this beer. And it ages surprisingly well. But this years batch fresh, cannot be improved upon. Striking just the right balance of hoppiness and chewy malts it quenches both the sweet tooth the winter gives you and the constant craving for hops. Not to say that this beer is sweet. It isnt, just malty and good.
Sierra Nevada Keller-Weiss
As if Celebration wasnt enough to remind you how good SN is then along comes this new year round beer from them. Overshadowed by their solid (but not as good) new Torpedo IPA this beer was a favorite among friends. It manages to reinvigorate a little known style while updating it for the masses but not losing its edge. SN uses open-fermentation for this beer and it shows in all its lovely tart-dryness. So refreshing!
New Belgium Le Terroir
NB is another brewer everyone likes to trash on because of their more commerial beers like Fat Tire. But if you think these guys are just making beers for the masses you dont know their lineup too well. This beer is one of the best, if not the best sour beer I have ever had. It has an amazing extreme peachy sourness and ends with a funky brett note and just a touch of citrusy hop bitterness. Dry-hopped sour beer? The idea did not appeal to me until I had this baby. My mouth is watering just reminiscing about it.
Van Havig – Senior brewer, Rock Bottom Brewing. Portland, Oregon.
I’m super crap about things like 5 favorite beers, but I’ll tell you that I think the sour stuff that Gansberg has put out from Cascade Brewing, and Alex’s stuff from Upright brewing are the best new things going on in town. We’re finally starting to spread out our beer scene, instead of just having every brewery produce 6 kinds of IPA. Oh yeah, and the cask stuff from Brewers Union Local is great too. I think the “fun” stuff that Christian is doing at Hopworks is great (beer bike, washoes, biketobeerfest, etc.) and we could use some more of that, particularly things that reach out to beer drinkers that aren’t beer geeks (like the bike crowd). Now if in 2010, people would just start to drink lager and lower alcohol beers, then we might really have something going on. We’re a little too self congratulatory these days (have been for a long time), and it’s nice to see a bit of a shake up, but to stay Beervana, we have to keep evolving. Just my two cents.
Alex Ganum – Owner, brewer, Upright Brewing. Portland, Oregon.
Hop Czar – not really new but in 6-packs at least.
Highland Ambush – beautifully balanced and flavorful.
Deschutes (pearl) Pilsener (may have a longer name) – off the hook
and their Miss Spelt – a great hefe with nice spelt flavor.
Lompoc – bourbon barrel porter (also may have another name) – not sure if it was released this year (I think so) but man that was nice, gorgeous barrel character and begging for coconut ice cream.
Chuck Macaluso – beer geek, beer fest attendee. Vancouver, Washington.
1 – Samuel Adams Utopias
2 – Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
3 – Russian River Pliny the Younger
4 – Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (best beer in a can)
5 – Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Matthew DiTullo – Brewpublic videographer, artist. Portland, Oregon.
1. Hair of the Dog Bourbon Fred From the Wood:
Brewmaster Alan Sprints graced us with this version of Fred at his open house during Oregon Craft Beer Month. An incredible Bourbon aged brew. Smooth, vanilla notes and sweet, malted grains. Soft, subtle textured palate that allowed the booziness to finish smooth and clean.
2. Russian River Consecration:
I first enjoyed this at Saraveza back in February. An also chance encounter with Angelo De Ieso and Margaret Lut which started a great friendship. A tart, oaky, acidic, bacteria/yeasty brew that packed a punch of sourness. Aged with currants in oak barrels, this 10% bomb still has the nice warmth to get you through the damp Portland winter.
3. Cascade Drie Zwarte Pieten Sang Noir II:
This was the big hit for me at the Holiday Ale Festival. One of Ron Gansberg’s finest. Rich, fresh cherry flavors with a dry, sour base and sharp whiskey and oak flavors. All creating a wonderful concoction of a beer.
4. Double Mountain IRB:
I first visited their Taproom in January of this year and was treated with this blended brew. Man do I love whiskey, and do I love whiskey aged beers. IRB is a big beer which has parts of a brett aged Belgian style, blended with their IRA aged in Elijah Craig barrels, blended with a little more IRA aged in Oak barrels. The result was a smooth beer with some great smokey and charred flavors and a dominate whisky profile.
5. Laurelwood Moose and Squirrel:
Every year, Laurelwood bottles a special beer for a December release. The 2008 version was this Imperial Stout. I popped a bottle when the ball dropped this past New Years. My very first beer in 2009 and it has stuck with me all this time. A strong, roasted beer with sweet toffee and caramel flavors. It was smooth, and had a nice coffee, smoked, creamy finish.
Got a top five for 2009? Feel free to post it as a comment here. Prost!