KajII's:Top 20 Craft Beer's of 2011 (20-11)

  • 2011 has been a great year for beer, but picking the top 20 is a little hard to say the least. I drank quite a few beers this year some good, some not so good and some just blew my taste buds away. But there where also a whole bunch that really were good, even though I was not really into that style. This makes choosing extremely difficult, either way I got it done. Here are the 1st 10 of my top 20 for 2011.

     

    20) Osker Blues "Tenfidy"

     

     

     

     

    Oskar Blues Brewery - Lyons, Colorado USA

    Imperial Stout (ABV 10.5%)

    Rating: 4.0/5.0

     

     The pour was a deep dark muddy black with a very thin (less than 1 finger) medium brown creamy head that was fully diminishing and had excellent lacing.

     The aroma was of burnt cereal malts and a leathery doughy yeast with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses and also had a mild alcohol scent.

     It tasted sweetly bitter with a moderate note of coffee at first and finished with a nice smooth bitter chocolate coffee flavor and had a slight alcohol tinge at the end. The flavor stayed with you for a nice long while after the swallow allowing one to enjoy a nice coffee mocha ending.

     Mouthfeel was quite full in body and very creamy in texture with basically a flat carbonation.

     Overall a GREAT Imperial stout, with lots of flavor and hardly any notice to the high alcohol content.

     

    19) Weyerbacher "Imperial Pumpkin Ale"

     

     I tried a ton of Pumpkin Ales this year and this one by far was the out right winner. If you do have the opportunity to try it, DO SO.

     

     

    Weyerbacher Brewing Company - Easton, Pennsylvania USA

    Pumpkin Ale (ABV 8%)

    Rating: 4.0/5.0

     

     The pour was a cloudy medium brown with a slight orange hue and an average sized (1-2 finger) off white creamy head that was mostly diminishing and had fair lacing.

     The aroma had a strong cinnamon and nutmeg scent right off with a nice dark caramel malt, a sweet doughy yeast, a hint of allspice, a decent pumpkin presence and a mild alcohol tinge.

     The taste was fabulously sweet and malty with notes of nutmeg and cinnamon at first, then progressed with a nice dose of pumpkin, a smidgen of allspice and had a smooth alcohol finish. The flavor was left hanging on the taste buds for a nice long time allowing one to fully enjoy the awesome complexity of this brew.

     Mouthfeel was medium to full in body, very creamy in texture and had a nice prickly carbonation.

     Overall an extremely satisfying brew that had all the flavors blending so well that any alcohol presence was almost non existent. It had a drinkability that was so appealing that it left you wanting more.

     

    18) Founders "Dirty Bastard"

     

     If you have never tried Scotch Ale you are really missing out. This one happens to be superb.

     

     

    Founders Brewing Company - Grand Rapids, Michigan USA

    Scotch Ale (ABV 8.5%)

    Rating: 4.0/5.0

     

     The pour was a murky medium brown with a cooper hue and had an average sized (1-2 finger) light brown rocky head that dissipated quickly but left a thin layer of foam that created some fair lacing.

     The aroma was a bit on the sweet side with roasted bread malts, an herbal hop and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of raisons, molasses and a mild alcohol scent.

     The taste was sweet and malty with a hint of molasses in the beginning and finished a bit bitter, with a touch of raisons and a mild alcohol tinge at the end that left the flavor to linger for a nice long while.

     Mouthfeel was somewhere between medium and full in body and was rather dry in texture with a soft carbonation.

     Overall an extremely tasty brew with the alcohol flavor kept to a minimum, yet still allowing for a nice warming sensation after the swallow.

     

    17) Berkshire "Coffeehouse Porter"

     

     

    Berkshire Brewing Company - South Deerfield, Massachusetts USA

    Porter (ABV 6.2 %)

    Rating: 4.1/5.0

     

     The pour was a very dark clear brown with a large frothy tan head that was mostly lasting and had excellent lacing.

     The aroma was quite thick of the scent of coffee with dark roasted malts and a chewy leathery yeast with notes of roasted coffee, molasses and dark chocolate.

     The taste was sweetly bitter and had a nice malty presence with coffee overtones in the beginning and finished with a strong coffee flavor, yet still sweetly bitter but with hints of chocolate and molasses with a touch of caramel at the end.

     Mouthfeel was full in body with the texture being smooth and creamy and an almost flat carbonation.

     Overall a wonderfully tasting Porter. All of the components in this brew worked together very well giving you an extremely well balanced beer. A great representation of the style.

     

    16) Ommegang "Chocolate Indulgence"

     

    This beer was so chocolaty to the nose that I felt like taking a bite of it. A nice smooth, chewy brew.

     

     

    Brewery Ommegang - Cooperstown, New York USA
    Stout (ABV 7%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0 
     
     Poured a rich very dark brown almost black with a large medium brown creamy head that diminished slightly but had the longevity to last throughout thus producing excellent lacing.  The aroma was quite intense with a multitude of scents starting with roasted chocolate malts and a sweet earthy yeast with notes of dark roasted coffee, molasses and of course dark chocolate.
     It tasted smooth, mildly sweet and moderatley bitter in the beginning and then became a little more robust with the dark chocolate becoming more dominant. The flavor layed on the palate for a nice long while letting the taste buds fully enjoy a malty chocolate coffee experience.
     Mouthfeel was nice and creamy in texture and very full in body with an ever so soft carbonation.
     Overall an incredibly superb tasting stout. Definitely work having another!
     
    15) Heavy Seas "Smoke On The Water"
     
    I am not much on Smoked beers but this one was fantastic and extremely well balanced.
     
     
    Clipper City Brewing Company - Baltimore, Maryland USA
    Smoked (ABV 8%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     Poured black with a brown/red hue with a small light brown creamy head that was fully diminishing and had poor lacing.
     The aroma was of burnt dark chocolate malts and a doughy yeast with notes of licorice, coffee, and a smokey alcohol scent.
     It tasted lightly sweet with hints of dark chocolate and licorice at the start then progressed into a smooth-bitter-smokey-coffee flavor that exploded on the tastebuds and stayed with you for a wonderfully long time. 
     Mouthfeel was full in body and creamy in texture with a nice soft carbonation.
     Overall an extremely tasty brew. If only all smoked beers tasted like this.
     
    14) Oskar Blues "Old Chub"
     
    A nice well rounded brew with such a nice malty-sweetness to it. Yes another Scotch Ale makes the top 20.
     
     
    Oskar Blues Brewery - Lyons, Colorado USA
    Scotch Ale (ABV 8%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     Pour was a murky dark brown with an average sized (1-2 finger) creamy light brown head that was mostly lasting and had really great lacing.
     The aroma was moderately scented with roasted chocolate malts, a sweet doughy yeast and a mild resin hop with a note of caramel.
     It tasted lightly sweet and acidic with a note of caramel at first and the finished very malty and slightly bitter with strong notes of chocolate and toffee. The flavor lasted a nice while after the swallow letting one enjoy the malty caramel sweetness.
     Mouthfeel was somewhere between medium to full in body and quite creamy in texture with a very mild carbonation.
     Overall a very tasty Scottish Ale, with lots of nice malty flavor and just a touch sweetness at the end.
     
    13) Sand Creek "Oscar’s Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout"
     
    This beer was sent to me by a fellow beer enthusiast.  To put it simply it was "AWESOME". Nuff Said... 
     
     
    Sand Creek Brewing Company - Black River Falls, Wisconsin USA
    Sweet Stout (ABV 9%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     The pour was a very dark murky brown with a large (2-3 finger) light brown frothy head that was mostly diminishing and had poor lacing,
     The aroma was nice and robust of a dark roasted cereal malt and a sweet leathery yeast with notes of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, molasses, a hint of oats and a touch of alcohol.
     The taste was silky sweet and had a nice chocolate note in the beginning and finished with a slightly bitter tinge that had a strong note of coffee and chocolate with a touch molasses at the end. The flavor was left to linger a nice long time after the swallow allowing for the chocó-coffee flavor to settle nicely on the taste buds.
     Mouthfeel was somewhere between medium and full in body, a tad oily and a little dry yet very creamy in texture with a nice lively carbonation.
     Overall an exquisitely smooth, tasty, robustly satisfying brew that had all of the flavors blending together so perfectly that the high alcohol content was hidden completely.
     
    12) Laughing Dog "The Dogfather"
     
    This brew was so enjoyable I almost rated it higher, but there are so many to consider. Making it into the top 20 is a feat all by itself.
     
     
    Laughing Dog Brewing - Ponderay, Idaho USA
    Imperial Stout (ABV 10.85%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     The pour was a thick dark black with a huge (3-4 finger) medium brown creamy head that lasted a good long while letting the thick lacing sheet the glass rather nicely.
     The aroma was of a burnt dark bread malt, a mild resin hop and a sweet leathery yeast with notes of coffee, molasses, and dark chocolate with a mild alcohol tinge.
     It tasted slightly bitter and a bit malty with a strong coffee overtone in the beginning and then moved to a moderately bitter-sweet flavor with a smooth chocolate coffee finish that had a mild alcohol undertone at the end. The flavor lasted a nice long while letting the mocha coffee flavor settle nicely on the taste buds.
     Mouthfeel was thick and full in body with the texture being very smooth and creamy and having a soft carbonation.
     Overall a GREAT Stout that was so well balanced with tons of flavor that you hardly noticed the high alcohol content. In one word “YUM”.
     
    11) Stone "Smoked Porter"
     
    Another exceptional Porter. But everything that comes out of this brewery seems to be exceptional.
     
     
    Stone Brewing Company - Escondido, California USA
    Porter (ABV 5.9%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     Poured a dark muddy black with dark ruby red highlights beaming around the edges of the glass. It had an average sized (1-2 finger) light brown creamy head that lasted a nice while, leaving a layer of foam floating on top of the brew which resulted some excellent lacing.
     The aroma was was bold to say the least. It had a strong scent of roasted caramel malts, a leathery yeast with a subtle smokey odor and had notes of dark roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a touch of raisons.
     It tasted wonderfully lightly bitter-sweet with nice notes of dark chocolate, caramel and dried fruit in the beginning then became a tad more on the bitter coffee side and had a mild smokey finish that was left lingering on the palate for a really nice long time.
     Mouthfeel was medium to full in body (I am leaning more towards full) and smooth and creamy in texture with a nice light soft carbonation.
     Overall this was an awesome brew. I am always a little leary about smoked beers but the flavors in this one melded so well together that it left me wanting more.
     
     
    Well that's 10, only 10 to go. "COMING SOON"
     
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6 comments
  • KajII
    KajII Yes and a mighty tasty one at that
    December 29, 2011
  • KajII
    KajII Oskar 's got some good brew
    December 29, 2011
  • jbladen
    jbladen You and I have very similar tastes. I love the Ten Fidy, Old Chub, Dirty Bastard, Smoke on the Water, etc. I'll look for the others!
    December 29, 2011 - 1 likes this
  • KajII
    KajII What can I say we just have great taste!!
    December 29, 2011