Best Beers of April 2022

I do not drink a lot of sours these days. One is that there is a tilt toward the smoothie sour which is a little to kids candy for me and second, that acid rumbles my tummy big time.

All preamble to April and the choice of two sours for my best of the month. First is Honey Mile from Cascade. No surprise that the NW masters of sour made something tasty but the mix of chamomile and honey was excellent. Second was French Twist from Smog City. A barrel-aged “cocktail” beer. Saison aged in gin barrels with lemon and vanilla.

Same story for both beers. A base sour with adjuncts that added layers and depth of flavor.

Best Beers of March 2022

Some months the frontrunner is clear. March led me to some tough choices. Re-tasting Maudite Dubbel from Unibroue was a delightful visit. The coffee Kolsch from Los Angeles Ale Works, Bengal Brew was a nice change-up from IPAs but the dual winners are from Highland Park.

Fireweed Lager was a chewy and malty revelation using a new to me ingredient and tied for first was the High 8 Anniversary pilsner which again shows that for as well as HPB does IPAs (they have High 8’s in that style too), it is hoppy pilsner where they truly shine..

Best Beers of January 2022

Time to check in on what caught my fancy this month. Sometimes a low or no expectation beer or brewery can get a Best of… nod because of that surprise. That is what happened with new-ish brewery La Bodega whose Pale Ale wowed me because I didn’t know a darn thing about the brewery.

In other cases, a beer blast from the past can make a case. Nut Brown from AleSmith really hit the different from most of the beers spot and I had not had it in such a long time that it was fresh.

But the winner was a multi-player collaboration from Ogopogo Brewing in San Gabriel. It was an 8% IIPA that probably could have been called a double but that was the only mark against it. It was bright and crisp and straight down the middle hoppy.

Best Beers of December + Final IPA Rankings

Time to check in on the best of the last month of beer drinking in 2021.

This month three beers caught my fancy and one almost cracked the IPA top three. That was the Tarantula Hill / June Lake winter DIPA collab, Tomahawk Yard Sale.

Two chocolate beers rang in second and third with Mason Ale Works Naughty Hot Chocolate Stout edging out a surprise contender from Uinta with their Peppermint Patty beer.

That means that the IPA standings are the same. And if you had told me back in January that a HPB meets Beachwood beer would win, I would have said, “sounds about right.”

3. Chapman Crafted Old Towne Block Party Year 5 DDH DIPA

2. Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions

1.Highland Park / Beachwood Natural Born Shredders

and the Best of’s Start

November is not even finished but in beer punditry world, the year is done and dusted and it is time to rank the beers!

Here are some notables (in my view) from Craft Beer & Brewing magazine and their 20 Best of 2021

Maplewood Barrel Aged Cuppa Vanilla Rye  (Chicago) That sounds like a breakfast beer.

Vitamin Sea Tropical Envy (Collaboration with Civil Society Brewing (East Weymouth, Massachusetts) Usually TIPAs don’t make the list.

Green Bench Postcard Pils (St. Petersburg, Florida) Always a pils on the list

Oxbow Crossfade (Newcastle, Maine) Oxbow is one of those who almost always make the list.

Wild Provisions Metes & Bounds: Red Globe Peach (Boulder, Colorado) Now I am interested to try a red globe peach.

Resident Culture Static God (Charlotte, North Carolina) Always a lager on the list.

Breakside True Gold (Portland, Oregon) Go Oregon!

Triple Crossing One and the Same (Richmond, Virginia) 

WeldWerks Starry Noche (Greeley, Colorado) Perennially added brewery

Green Cheek It Just Works (Orange, California)  I have had this one! Wasn’t super impressed by it.

Beer Cage Match – Review # 5 – I Feel Better Now from Hello Friend

Next is review number five from the City Beer Store of San Francisco beer purchase. By the end of the month, I will rank all six.

Currently Side Pull is one with IPL is Dead second, Lenticular Cap third, and Working for Tips at 4. Only two slots remain to be ranked.

Hello Friend is the hazy side gig of one of my favorite sour beer makers, The Rare Barrel. This hazy IPA has the cloudy look without taking on that dark grey murk. It is a pretty light yellow. Filled with Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops. Got a hit of pineapple when first opened. That fades though and the flavor is quite muted. Pineapple mixed with grass but not powerful. Some lemon tucked in the back as well. The can design is a little on the creepy side for me as well.

I am going to put this last. Primarily because I has some high expectations for it and this could have been bigger in flavor.

Best Beers of August 2021 + IPA Standings

Time to check out the best of August. Since, I do not imbibe on Mondays and Tuesdays, beer August is done for me.

On to the best, all but one being hoppy including one that lands on the top 3 IPA list.

Starting with the barrel-aged stout collab between Mumford and Finback. Yes, it was overly sweet and some ingredients didn’t seem to break through the veil of sugar but this was a sticky, syrupy change of pace.

Staying with collabs, The Highland Park and Cellarmaker and Coleman Farms IPA, simply named Coleman IPA was bright and fresh with citrus notes. Smog City and Alvarado Street’s Park Hopper IPA was very well done and rose above other fine Smog IPA options.

But let’s get to the beer that cracked the IPA rare air…

I was concerned about the ABV and the five different varieties of hops but this was fruity with just the right swagger of bitterness to it without going overboard. So it grabs the three spot.

  1. Beachwood / Highland Park Natural Born Shredders
  2. Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions
  3. Chapman Crafted Old Towne Block Party Year 5 DDH DIPA

Best Beers of July 2021 + IPA Ranking

Let’s go straight to the top, my favorite beer of the month is Natural Born Shredders from the combined talents of Beachwood Brewing and Highland Park Brewery. This IPA has a Wonderful aroma.  Bright with dried fruit and pine. As it warms sone cat pee notes creep in. Loads of tangerine flavor.  Overall light mouthfeel.  Nice bitterness bite that lingers.

So let’s update the IPA rankings before mentioning a couple honorable mentions.

3 – Crooked Stave Idaho 7 IPA

2 – Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions

1 – Beachwood / Highland Park Natural Born Shredders

Two other really great beers wowed me this month. Total Boss Red IPA from Smog City was malty and hoppy and filling in equal measure. Radiant Beer Co. and their Can Down By the River Motivational Lager which from can design to flavor was great.

2021 Mid-Year Stats

Time to look back at the first six months of the drinking year and tease out sone fun statistics about what I have been drinking.

16 breweries were brand new to me.

I still drank more West Coast IPA’s than Hazies 69 to 43

Smog City was the most drunk from brewery with 19 followed closely by Firestone Walker with 17

Firestone Walker leads with best beers of the week with 3. Lagunitas and Radiant each have 2.

Of 327 total beers – 156 were IPA, 24 Pilsner/Lager, 23 Barrel-Aged and 11 Sour

The Best Beers of May 2021 + IPA Standings

Time to check in on the best beers that I had this month. First off is Pally Pils from Green Cheek in Anaheim, I went to try their cold IPA but was taken by their Italian Pilsner instead. Then traveling to Belgium via El Segundo, the noted IPA house has a Belgian Strong Ale, Gouden Arm which was strong indeed and just an excellent departure for the brewery.

But the winner was the collaboration between Long Beach Beer Lab and Ambitious Ales called Affogat-oats. A triple IPA with oats and lactose and coffee. I would have added it to my IPA best but it was such a style mash -up. Coffee and cream and then sweetness and a touch of bitterness

Two beers that Three Weavers made almost cracked the top three of the IPA list. The latest batch of Light Trails was bright and grape-y and the Crowns and Knots collab with Crowns & Hops was winner was well. The top remains unchanged.

3. Crooked Stave Idaho 7 IPA

2. Indie Brewing Quintette IPA

  1. Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions