Wednesday, August 31, 2011

De Struise Brouwers - Pannepot

A few months ago, I tried the #1 beer in the world according to's Top 100 List- Westvleteren 12. While it may not have been my favorite beer (it was close, though), the smell was what really separated it from any other beer I've had. In my mind, no other beer could come close to the smell of the Westvleteren 12. It was that good. Then, I came across De Struise's Pannepot.

Looking back, maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that the smell of Pannepot approached that of Westvleteren 12. After all, the beers are the same style (quadrupel) and the breweries are located about 2 miles away from each other in Belgium, which likely means they use a lot of the same ingredients, including the same water. Still, I didn't expect this. At #83 on the Top 100 List- Pannepot.

Pannepot pours a very dark brown color with a thin but slightly creamy head. The aroma is huge and complex with notes of banana, molasses, dark fruit, freshly baked rye bread and brown sugar. Everything about the smell of this beer blew me away and brought back memories of the smell of the Westvleteren 12.

The taste was nearly as rich as the smell with big flavors of molasses, raisin skins, brown sugar, banana, baking spices and chocolate with just a hint of booze on the finish. Taste-wise, this was incredible but not quite as incredible as the Westy 12. In this battle, the Westy 12 wins by a whisker. Pannepot definitely deserves to be higher on the list, though.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 30

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Russian River Brewing Company - Temptation

As anyone who loves sour beers already knows, Russian River makes some amazing sours. Their year round (or semi-year round) sour lineup consists of three beers that are aged in wine barrels: Supplication (a sour that uses cherries and is aged in Pinot Noir Barrels), Consecration (a sour that uses currants and is aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels) and Temptation (a sour that is aged in Chardonnay barrels). All three of these beers crack the Top 100 List with Supplication clocking in at #19, Consecration coming in at #58 and Temptation at #45. I had tried and loved the others, but hadn't had the chance to try Temptation until Stone's Anniversary Celebration last weekend.

Temptation pours a pale yellow color with a thin, off-white head. The base beer for Temptation is a blonde ale, which I think was probably the best choice to age in chardonnay barrels. Blonde ales are traditionally a lot lighter than the base beers used for Supplication and Consecration and this would enable the beer to pick up the lighter flavors in the Chardonnay barrel during the aging process. The chardonnay comes across nicely in the smell alongside some wood, lemon and a touch of white vinegar.

The flavors in Temptation may be a little lighter and more subtle than a beer like Supplication, but the beer still packs one hell of a sour punch. Ripe green apples and chardonnay lead off the flavor and are quickly overcome by a huge blast of sour/bretty goodness. A little apple cider vinegar and lemon come into play on the finish. This was easily one of the best sours I've ever had. The light base beer really showcases the barrel aging and shows off some fantastic delicate flavors without sacrificing that great sourness that Russian Rivers sours are famous for. This is an absolute must-try if you love sour beer.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 29

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Bruery - Humulus Lager

In the beer community, "lager" has become sort of a dirty word. The lager style has been around for a long, long time, but the word lager seems to always show up alongside another dirty word: "adjunct." An adjunct lager (for example: Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light, etc.) is a lager that is brewed using ingredients like corn and rice in place of barley. The result is a beer that often smells and tastes like horse piss. So you can imagine my surprise when I was looking through the Top 100 List and saw a beer with the word "lager" in the name. I finally got the chance to try it last weekend at Stone's 15th Anniversary Celebration. At #70 on the Top 100 List: Humulus Lager.

Humulus Lager pours a clear golden color with a thin, cream colored head. The aroma is amazing and completely unexpected for a lager with big, fresh floral and earthy hops alongside some pine and lemon.

The taste is everything I wish other lagers could be. Some soft malts give way to some nice pine and peppery hops and the beer finishes with a juicy grapefruit flavor. The balance is impeccable. Other breweries have experimented with different styles of lagers before (including one of my favorite Ballast Point beers- Fathom India Pale Lager), but I don't think any of them can touch this one. A worthy addition to the Top 100.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 28

Friday, August 26, 2011

Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Parabola

I was never a big fan of Firestone Walker beers until I tried their barleywine, Abacus. It was unlike any beer I had ever tried up to that point and remains the best barleywine I've ever had. Abacus is part of Firestone's Reserve Series, which consists of Abacus, Double Jack (which I wasn't a fan of), Firestone's Anniversary Ales (which I have yet to try), Walker's Reserve Porter (which I was inclined to like because of the name but didn't because of the taste) and a Russian Imperial Stout called Parabola which sits at #25 on the Top 100 list. So out of the five beers of the Reserve Series, I had tried three and liked one. Not a good sign. Still, a lot of people had told me that Parabola was better than Abacus, so I figured it was worth a shot. I opened it alongside a few other great beers at a tasting with Beau and our friend, Krank.

Parabola pours a jet black color with a 1/2 finger tan head. The smell took me straight back to the smell of Abacus with huge notes of chocolate, toasted coconut, oak and port. Beau described the smell pretty accurately as a "dark chocolate Mounds bar." I absolutely love Mounds bars, so this beer obviously gets high marks from me in the smell department.

The taste was everything I could hope for in a stout: rich, deep and complex. I picked up notes of roasted malt, tootsie roll, milk chocolate, dark chocolate covered raisins, leather and mocha with a slight smokiness on the finish. Everything about this beer made me want it to never end. From the complex flavors to the rich and chewy mouthfeel, this beer is definitely Top 100 worthy. One of the better stouts I've had. Now that's what I'm talking about, Firestone! Make more beers like this!

Final Grade: A+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 27

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brasserie Cantillon - Rosé de Gambrinus

I've been wanting to try a beer from Cantillon for a very, very long time. They have a reputation of being one of the best breweries in the world and the standard when it comes to geuzes and lambics. There's only one problem: People know that their beers are bomb so everyone snatches them up the second they hit shelves. I started asking around and finally found a bottle at Texas Liquor, right down the street from where I live. I didn't know a ton about the bottle he had, but I knew it was a Cantillon, so that was more than enough to convince me to buy it. Yesterday, I tried it with Beau.

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus pours an incredible dark pink color (likely from all the raspberries used during fermentation) with a foamy light pink head that settles to a modest cap over the beer. The smell is absolutely incredible: Huge notes of sour raspberry and red currant with a healthy dose of funk/wet horse blanket and a hint of oak. Funk is an easy smell to overdo, but this one had just enough.

The taste was, well, amazing. I expected good things from this beer, but nothing like this. There's a big hit of sourness and tartness that hits the second you take a sip, followed by some nice funk. A bit of the raspberry flavor pokes it's head through towards the finish alongside a bit of red wine vinegar. The mouthfeel is nice and light, making this beer very, very drinkable. On a hot day, I can't think of a better beer to have. Hopefully I'll be able to find more of this. Very, very soon.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

Just a heads up on what to expect in the very near future. The next five (5!) reviews on this blog will be Top 100 Beers. it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stone 15th Anniversary Celebration

You can tell a lot about a person by the clothes they choose to wear, especially at a beer event. On Saturday, I attended my first beer event: Stone's 15th Anniversary Celebration. I was pretty excited for the beer (over 40 breweries showed up with over 100 different beers), but one of the more interesting side plots had to be the people who show up to these events and the clothes they chose to wear, right? Right? Maybe I'm the only one.

The day before the event, I began planning what I was going to wear (trust me, that's rare for me). As this was my first beer event, I had no idea what appropriate attire would be. Would it be sacrilege to wear another brewery's shirt to a party thrown by Stone? Would I look like a twit if I wore sandals? I had no idea. In the end, I opted for comfort and dressed for the weather, going with a polo shirt, shorts and shoes. My girlfriend and our friend, Brian, attended the event with me and chose pretty much the same path. Nothing too fancy, but something that would keep us cool if the weather got as hot as some were expecting.

The event was held on the campus of Cal State San Marcos and sprawled the length of their grassy quad. Breweries were given individual stations where people could visit for tasters of their beer. Most of the breweries were either local or from other parts of California, but a few breweries from other states and even out of the country showed up, including Belgium's Urthel and Duvel. There was even cider and mead at the event, with a wide selection from Julian Hard Cider, Wandering Aengus, Crispin and Redstone Meadery. As it turned out, the fashion of the beer lovers in attendance was just as varied as the choices of beverage. I've been thinking a lot over the past few days, and I can now definitively break those in attendance down into the following categories.

1. The Beer Geeks: I know what you're saying: "It's a beer event. Wasn't everyone there a beer geek?" No, and I'll get to that later. The beer geeks at this event typically wore shirts from breweries in the area (The Bruery shirts were all over the place) and could be seen jotting down notes left and right.

2. The Beer Nerds: There's a difference! Beer nerds think they're way more into brewing than beer geeks and like to wear shirts from obscure breweries that don't distribute to California. Their shirts are automatic conversation pieces for other beer nerds and they are commonly seen pointing out each others shirts and whiffing on high fives.

3. The Straight-Up Nerds: I didn't see many at this event, but one stood out. He was wearing a Utili-kilt (a modern day kilt company. The company's slogan is: "Call it a skirt and ye'll feel the back of my hand) and a shirt that said: "The liver must be punished!" I loved this guy.

4: The Die-Hard Stone Fans: There were a fair amount of true Stone fans at the event, most of them wearing shirts from previous Stone Anniversary celebrations. Interestingly enough, almost none of these people were seen getting their tasters filled at the Stone tents.

5: The Beer Lovers: This was effectively everyone else (and probably 80% of people there) at the event. I'm grouping everyone else, including me, in this class. The beer lovers in attendance weren't wearing things that clearly distinguished them as that, but I figure that you have to love beer to a certain degree to want to pay to attend an event like this.

While cliques usually emerge in events (ie. the beer nerds only hanging out with beer nerds), it was nice to see everyone getting along and enjoying good beer. Die-Hard Stone Fans were talking to Beer Nerds and Beer Geeks were talking to Beer Lovers. It was a great event, and one that I definitely plan on attending again next year. I may even go to the next one in Beer Geek attire.

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

Note: Two of the beers I tasted at the even were in the Top 100. Reviews on those to come soon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stone Brewing Company - Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

I'll admit it, it's been a while since I had a beer from Stone that really impressed me. Stone has lost my favor for a few reasons.

1: Their year round line up isn't anything I would order on tap unless the other choices consisted of Coors Light and Bud 55.

2: Their recent collaborations had intriguing ideas, but didn't really come through for me. And finally...

3. Their whole "You're a sissy if you can't handle our beer and we didn't want your business anyways" approach feels like it's been going on for a few years too long.

That said, Stone's 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA is one of the best beers I've had all year. I didn't expect this beer to suck (it's rare that a beer from Stone is truly terrible, with the exception of their Belgo Anise Russian Imperial Stout), but I didn't see a beer from Stone ever blowing my mind like this one did.

Stone's 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA pours a jet black color with the consistency of motor oil. I've had a few black IPAs in the past and almost all of them were way too thin. I could tell this one wouldn't have that problem the second the beer left the bottle.

At first, this beer smells like an IPA, with some lush aromas of citrus hops and some pine in the background. But as you spend a little more time with the beer, hints of earth, roasted malt and leather creep in. I'm not ashamed to admit that I probably spent more time smelling this beer than I did drinking it (and I didn't drink it quickly).

The taste starts with some dark roasted malt flavors, then moves into more familiar IPA territory with some fresh pine hops. The finish brings in some dark roasted coffee and a bit of tobacco. To me, this may have been a bit more like a very hoppy stout than a black IPA, but that worked for me because I love stouts. The mouthfeel was rich and velvety with just the right amount of carbonation to keep the beer from being too syrupy. At nearly 11% ABV, this beer is one you should spend a little time finishing. So sip it, enjoy the intricate blend of styles, and get some more before it's gone.

Final Grade: A+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Midnight Sun Brewing Company - TREAT (Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter)

About a year ago, I heard about Midnight Sun's TREAT. All I needed to hear were the words "chocolate" and "pumpkin" together and I knew I had to try this beer. After trying to obtain it for a while down in San Diego, I learned that Midnight Sun doesn't really distribute to California. Disappointed, I started looking into other ways to get the beer and finally found it online. It had been sitting in the house for almost a year until this past weekend.

TREAT pours a midnight black color with a half-finger tan head. The smell was incredible. I've had my fair share of pumpkin beers, but I've never come across one with a smell this intense. It smelled like someone baked a pumpkin pie inside the bottle. Huge aromas of canned pumpkin, nutmeg and chocolate rose from the glass. This beer was definitely a keeper.

Sometimes a beer will come along and really intrigue me with the smell, but when I take a sip, I'm totally let down. Luckily, this was not one of those beers. I picked up rich flavors of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove along with a big chocolate flavor. I definitely wish I had picked up more than one bottle of this one.

Final Grade: A+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brasserie Fantôme - Fantôme Saison

My sister was in town this weekend, so I thought it would be fun for her to take part in a little beer tasting. What started as a few bottles turned into, well, a lot. Here's a picture of the lineup for the night.

The lineup was (in order shown): The Bruery's Orchard White, Magic Hat's #9, Alesmith's Yulesmith Summer, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada's Life and Limb, Drei Fonteinen's Oude Geuze, Great Divide's Rumble (which is the only beer we didn't get to), Pretty Things' Jack D'Or, Hair of the Dog's Blue Dot, Midnight Sun's T.R.E.A.T., Dogfish Head's Theobroma, Fantôme's Fantôme Saison, and Sierra Nevada's Torpedo (not shown). Needless to say, it was a very fun night. Over the next few days, I'll be reviewing some of the beers we tasted, starting with today's review of #80 on the Top 100 - Fantôme Saison.

I first heard about Fantôme Saison while reading through beeradvocate's Top 100 list about a year ago. It definitely caught me eye if for no other reason than it has an awesome label. I made it a point to look through every beer on the list and try to remember the names in case I ever stumbled upon them in a bottle shop. Many times, I found beers by Brasserie Fantôme, but never the saison. When asked about the saison, a lot of shop owners told me that they were trying to get it, but it was kind of a rare find. Finally, a year later, I found it at the Pizza Port bottle shop (on the day of the tasting, no less). Figuring it was fate, I picked up the bottle and opened it that night.

Fantôme Saison pours a hazy golden color with a one finger eggshell-colored head. I got some aromas of apple cider, vanilla, lemon and a touch of barnyard funk. The "funk factor" wasn't as high in this as a saison like Dupont's, but this had just enough to let you know it was a proper saison.

The taste definitely didn't disappoint, but it also didn't impress me as much as I was hoping it might. I picked up some lemon, pear, fermented apple, champagne yeast and a nice dose of funk. The champagne yeast flavor dried out the beer a lot and left nothing but a bit of funk on the finish. The mouthfeel was way light for a beer packing 8% ABV, so it's definitely one that has the potential to sneak up on you. Overall, it was a great saison, but the Saison Dupont may still be the king of saisons for me.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Deschutes Brewery - The Abyss

I'll admit it, I was a little apprehensive going into this tasting. I had been craving for more of The Abyss ever since I tried it for the first time over a year ago. But something in me was worried that it wouldn't be as good the second time around. And I didn't know if I wanted to mess with the greatest memory I have of drinking a beer. Absolutely everything about the Abyss the first time around blew me away. Was it really possible for a beer to do that twice? Unfortunately not.

I opened a bottle of 2010 Abyss last week with Beau and another coworker who had never tried the beer before. Beau tried it on tap for the first time a few weeks back while he was in Portland and wasn't impressed, so I was determined to blow his mind with the bottled version. After battling with the wax seal for a little too long, we opened the bottle and poured. A viscous-looking mass poured out and brought up a one finger light brown head. The color of the head was different than I remembered, but other than that, things were still going well. Then I took a whiff and it smelled like a different beer.

This time around, I picked up a lot of oak right away- a smell I don't remember encountering at all before. Behind the oak were some rich aromas of raisin, dark chocolate, vanilla, burnt brown sugar and leather. Some of these were familiar smells, some were not. The smell was fantastic and had incredible depth, but it didn't quite move me like the first time around.

The taste was a bit thinner than the 2009 version, but had some great flavors of molasses and dark chocolate upfront, followed by a heavy roasted flavor, some smoke, a bit of bourbon and wet earth. The finish is slightly roasted and acidic. Overall, it was still a fantastic beer, but I was a little let down. Maybe it's a product of me trying so many beers in the past year that it's gotten very difficult to impress me. Or maybe this bottle just needed some more time to age (luckily I have one more tucked away for later). Either way, The Abyss is still my favorite beer, although now I wonder if it's grip on first place has been loosened a bit. I guess it's true that you can only fall in love for the first time once and, Abyss, you'll always be my first.

Final Grade: A+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 25

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg GmbH - Stiegl Gaudi Radler Shandy (Lemon)

Don't let the ridiculously long name of the beer (or the brewery) fool you, the idea behind this beer is pretty simple- mixing beer and soda. While that might sound a little weird, I experienced beer mixed with soda a few years back in Berlin and absolutely loved it. While I'm usually not a fan of mixing beer with anything, something about the beer + soda idea that the Germans have been using just works. This definitely won't work for most styles of beer, but it's a tasty concoction when done right. It's also a tasty concoction that I had never seen on this side of the Atlantic until a few weeks ago.

Stiegl Radler (I'm too lazy too type the whole thing, sue me) pours a clear honey color with a very thin white head. Within a matter of seconds, the head was totally gone, leaving a thick and syrupy looking substance in the glass. The lemon in the smell was pretty strong and smelled more like a lemon syrup or liquor than a freshly squeezed lemon. Somewhere in the background of the smell was a bit of rosemary and something that smelled like perfume.

The taste was pretty similar to the smell, with a ton of lemon jumping out right away. The flavor reminded me of the taste of a lemonhead after you get past the sour coating. The taste began to change a bit as the beer warmed and the base beer (which tasted like a light lager) began to come out a bit more. While the taste was really sweet (I mean REALLY sweet), the carbonation saved this one. When a beer gets as sweet as this one, it's very easy for it to taste syrupy. While this one got close, the carbonation was just prickly enough to keep the sweetness from sticking for too long. In the end, while this wasn't quite as good as the versions I had in Berlin, this is a fantastic light beer and a great beer for the summer.

Final Grade: B

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 24

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hanger 24 - Columbus IPA

First and foremost, I'd like to wish a happy and safe National IPA Day to everyone. Hopefully you are doing something exciting for the occasion. I chose to try an IPA from an up and coming brewery: Hangar 24. Located in Redlands, California, Hangar 24 has recently started to distribute their beers around Southern California. I had their Orange Wheat a few months back and was fairly impressed, so when I was looking for a new IPA to try for National IPA Day, their Columbus IPA caught my eye. Recently, more and more single hop IPAs have been popping up and this is one of them. A single hop IPA is a beer that uses only one hop variety instead of mixing a few together, like most IPAs do. The hop that Hangar 24 chose to showcase with this beer is the Columbus variety.

Columbus IPA pours a very hazy deep amber color with an orange hue. The head rose up quickly in the glass and took a long time to settle, which isn't something I typically see in an IPA. The smell had a nice citrus hop aroma with big notes of grapefruit pith and a bit of caramel in the background. After a few minutes though, the smell changed and became slightly less pleasant as notes of hop resin and cat (you hear me, cat) took over.

The taste, for me, was a bit off. At first, I picked up some lemon curd and grapefruit. Quickly, this was cut off by a sharp hit of pine hops. Soon after that, a taste of aspirin and pine sap rose up in my mouth. For me, the flavors didn't quite work together and the end result was a beer that felt a bit unpolished. It was far from being the worst IPA I've ever had (*cough* Kennebunkport IPA) but it was far from what I would consider to be a good IPA.

Final Grade: B-

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 25

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Three Floyds Brewing Company - Apocalypse Cow

I'm usually thrilled to see a brewery trying something new. Whether it's aging an IPA in oak barrels or brewing a stout with strange ingredients, if it's a new idea, I want to try it. That said, I was a little skeptical when I read up on Three Floyds' Apocalype Cow. I loved the name but wasn't quite sure about the idea behind the beer- adding lactose to a double IPA. Lactose is a sugar that is mainly found in milk and, when added to beer, gives the beer a very creamy mouthfeel. I've had a few stouts brewed with lactose (often called "milk stouts") but I'd never seen it used in any other kind of beer. The idea of a creamy IPA sounded weird as hell, but in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to give it a try.

Apocalypse Cow (which may have the greatest label I've ever seen, by the way) pours a hazy burnt orange color with a creamy eggshell-colored head. The beer has a great double IPA smell with a bit of a creamy touch added. I got a lot of mango right away with some grapefruit and citrus hops. I also picked up something sweet that smelled like a 50/50 bar.

The taste was fantastic with some big tangerine and apricot flavors upfront, followed by a slight hit of peppery hops. The sweetness is big in this one as the finish brings a huge note of caramel malt and mango. While the taste was big and full of flavor, what really made this beer shine was the mouthfeel. The lactose gives the beer a rich and creamy feel that works perfectly with the sweetness of the beer. It's like a mango, tangerine and hop milkshake. I know that sounds gross but trust me, it just works. Cheers to Three Floyds for a very successful experiment.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 25

Monday, August 1, 2011

Walker's Top 100 Beers...So Far

After trying Stone's Imperial Russian Stout, I've tried one quarter of the Top 100 Beers in the world. Most have been fantastic. A few have not. So it's time for a quarterly wrap up of sorts. Here is how I would rank the 25 beers I have tried in the Top 100.

1. Deschutes' The Abyss - Still the champ in my book. An unbelievable beer that I plan on revisiting again in the very near future.

2: Westvleteren 12 - Rated #1 in the world by I would really love another bottle of this one...for less than $40.

3: Founders' Kentucky Breakfast Stout - Coffee and beer can't go together any better than they do in this beer.

4: Russian River's Pliny the Younger - Slightly ahead of...

5: Russian River's Pliny the Elder - I never get tired of seeing this beer on tap.

6: Firestone Walker's Abacus - Words can't describe how good this beer tastes.

7: Surly's Abrasive Ale - My favorite IPA besides the Pliny family.

8: Russian River's Supplication - A fantastic sour. Not exactly a starter sour beer, but the best I've ever had.

9: Alesmith's Barrel Aged Speedway Stout - How more of Alesmith's beers aren't on the Top 100 list is beyond me. One of the best breweries in the country.

10: Ballast Point's Sculpin - I discovered this beer right before they made it a year round offering...thank God.

11. St Bernardus Abt. 12 - A close cousin to the Westvleteren 12. Very very similar, but not as tasty.

12. Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout - If you love bourbon, you'll love this beer fresh. Holy schnikies there's a lot of bourbon in this.

13: Russian River's Consecration - Another fantastic sour from Russian River.

14: Tröegs' Nugget Nectar - The most peach I've ever tasted in a beer. And that was a very good thing.

15: Bell's Hopslam - Seriously, Bell's deserves more spots in the Top 100.

16: Alpine's Exponential Hoppiness: I really, really need to get more of this beer.

17: Green Flash's Silva Stout - One of the best barrel aged stouts I've ever had.

18: Alpine's Bad Boy - Another great IPA in Alpine's lineup. Pretty much anything that Alpine adds hops to turns to gold in my book.

19: Trappistes Rochefort 10 - Another tasty quadrupel from Belgium. In my opinion, it's a little too high on the list, but it deserves its place in the Top 100.

20: Three Floyds' Dreadnaught IPA - I'm starting to think that I need to get my hands on some more IPAs from the midwest.

21: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier - The best wheat beer in my book.

22: Schneider Aventinus - I can see what the hype is about on this one. Pretty tasty.

23: Ayinger's Celebrator - I thought I didn't like dopplebocks...until I tried this one.

24: Alpine's Pure Hoppiness - Surprise! Another IPA from Alpine on the list.

25: Stone's Imperial Russian Stout - The last to be reviewed and, unfortunately, my least favorite of the bunch.

So far, I think nearly all of these beers (with the possible exception of Stone's Imperial Russian Stout and maybe Alpine's Pure Hoppiness) are worthy of their rank. That said, here are five beers that (in my opinion) should be on the list.

1: Dogfish Head's Bitches Brew - This is one of my all time favorite beers and one that is definitely Top 100 worthy.

2: Ballast Point's Victory at Sea: As far as getting the coffee flavor in beer perfectly, this and Kentucky Breakfast Stout are in a class of their own.

3: Great Lakes' Edmund Fitzgerald Porter: A fantastic, fantastic porter.

4: Bell's Expedition Stout: Apparently this beer isn't quite as good fresh as it is after it's been sitting a few years. Maybe that explains why it's not on the list.

5: Great Divide's Oak Aged Yeti - So delicious and, luckily, so available year round!

So that's my list. If and when I hit the halfway point, I'll be sure and update the list. Thanks for reading!

Stone Brewing Company - Stone Imperial Russian Stout

I know what you're thinking: "Two Stone entries in a row?" It won't happen again, if for no other reason than I seem to be running out of Stone beers to try. This one happens to be the crown jewel of the Stone lineup. In fact, Stone's Imperial Russian Stout (and it's bourbon barrel-aged brother) are the only two beers that Stone makes that are currently sitting in the Top 100 at all. I tried this beer last year and loved it but forgot to write a review. And so, without further adieu, I present #47 on the Top 100 list- Stone Imperial Russian Stout.

A few friends and I tried this beer last week alongside the Odd Year Release version of it. The Odd Year Release that Stone came up with for the Imperial Russian Stout was a version in which they used Belgian yeast and anise. Sounds kind of interesting, right? Actually, it was pretty awful. I'm skipping the review on that one and leaving you with this warning: Stick to the regular Imperial Russian Stout.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout pours an opaque black color with a big, creamy tan head. The smell is full of dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, wet earth, dried apple, black cherries and some faint smoke.

For a beer that smelled as good as this one did, I was a little disappointed by the taste. I got some molasses, dark chocolate, hints of dark fruit (mostly plum) and a touch of coffee. While the taste wasn't bad by any means, it wasn't as full as I've come to expect in a good stout. The mouthfeel was a bit thin and the flavors weren't strong enough to counter the feel. By no means was this a bad beer. But Top 100 worthy? I'm going to say no.

Final Grade: B+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 25

(Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the regular version, so above is a picture of the Belgo Anise version we tried)

Stone Brewing Company - Japanese Green Tea IPA

To start this post off, I want it to be noted that I'm a big fan of Stone's collaboration beers. Not all of them have been great, but I respect Stone for getting together with some of the best brewers in the world and trying out some crazy recipes. For one of their latest collaborations, Stone got together with Toshi Ishii of Ishii Brewing Co. and Bryan Baird of Baird Brewing Co. to make a beer for Japan. They ended up deciding to brew a Green Tea IPA with a dollar from every bottle sold going to the relief efforts in Japan. Definitely a great idea and a great cause. Now, let's see how the beer turned out.

Japanese Green Tea IPA pours a honey golden color with a thin white head that disappeared pretty quickly. The beer smelled fantastic straight from the bottle with big notes of fresh mango, citrus hops, caramel malts and a touch of green tea. Then, it took a turn for the worse. The more this beer warmed, the more it began to smell like green onions. And nothing else. Gross.

To my dismay, the taste took the same turn as the smell. When the beer was cold, I got a hard hit of citrus hops, some bready malts, green tea and a bit of earth. Slowly, the taste began to change and became completely malt dominated with a touch of (you got it) onions. Because a portion of the sale went to a noble cause, I'm not sorry I bought this bottle, I'm just sorry I tasted it. So do Japan a favor and buy this bottle if you see it. But if you decide to drink it, please drink it cold.

Final Grade: C+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 25