KajII's: Top 20 Craft Beer's of 2011 (Top 10)

  • Now we are down to the nitty gritty. Picking the Top 10 beers on my list. No easy feat let me assure you, but again I have come through. Not all may agree with my choices but that's what Craft Beer is all about. Just keep sampling and remember everyone's tastes are different. Hope you have a happy and healthy 2012.

     

    10) Dogfish Head "Palo Santo Marron"

     

    This is probably the best Brown Ale I have ever had the pleasure of tasting so far. In fact I tasted it just a tad more than once. Just sayin'...

     

     

    Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Milton, Delaware USA
    Brown Ale (ABV 12%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     The pour was a murky dark brown almost black with a very thin (less than 1 finger) light brown head that dissipated rapidly and had fair lacing.
     The aroma was quite robust with the scent of roasted caramel malts and a mild sweet yeast with hints of vanilla and coffee with a mild alcohol odor at the back end.
     The taste was a malty creamy sweet with notes of coffee, caramel and was a tad woody at first and finished sweetly-bitter and had nice notes of coffee and vanilla with mild alcohol aftertaste. The flavor lingered for a little while which let one enjoy the sweet woody coffee taste just a little longer.
     Mouthfeel was just a bit under full in body and slightly syrupy yet a little creamy in texture with a mild ticklish carbonation.
     Overall an absolutely fantastic Brown Ale that sits on the palate and lets one enjoy the complexity of it, without a heavy alcohol presence.
     
    9) Stone "Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale"
     
    I am a big fan of Strong Ale's, refreshing with a kick. This one is no exception, lots of flavor with the signature alcohol warming sensation you find in most good Strong Ale's. Just a damn good beer.
     
     
    Stone Brewing Company - Escondido, California USA
    American Strong Ale (ABV 7.2%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     The pour was a medium murky brown with a very large (2-3 finger) light brown rocky head that lasted throughout and had superb lacing.
     The aroma was very pronounced with a tawny wine alcohol scent that gets you right away and also had dark bread malts, a nice resin hop and a sweet doughy yeast with hints of citrus (grapefruit), pineapple, caramel and a nice smoky oak.
     It tasted sweetly acidic and very malty with a note of caramel from the onset then progressed into a bitter hoppy woody flavor with a strong grapefruit presence and had a mild alcohol warming finish.
     Mouthfeel was just a few shades above medium in body with the texture being nice and dry yet creamy and having a mild carbonation.
     Overall fantastic Strong Ale with tons of flavor, and a complexity that allows you to taste all flavors. Yet doesn’t let any one of them overpower the other.
     
    8) New Holland "Dragons Milk"
     
    This was another exceptional Strong Ale, but this one had a great dark fruit presence. My advice, if you can find it "TRY IT"!!
     
     
    New Holland Brewing Company - Holland, Michigan USA
    American Strong Ale (ABV 10%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     The pour was a very deep dark black with an average sized (1-2 finger) creamy medium brown head that was mostly diminishing leaving behind a decent amount of residue lying on top allowing for some really excellent lacing to form that totally sheeted the glass.
     The aroma was sweet and malty of roasted caramel malts, a very slight indication of a resin hop and a mild sweet yeast with notes of chocolate, dark fruit, oak and a hint of bourbon.
     It tasted malty sweet with a note of caramel and a touch of milk chocolate in the beginning, then a mild bitterness set in with a nice large dose of dark fruit and a bit of oak with a very large alcohol ending. The flavor lingered for a long duration, with the alcohol presence being the most dominant as time went on.
     Mouthfeel was a few shades past medium in body with a dry yet syrupy texture and having a mild carbonation.
     Overall a brew I suggest everyone should try at least once. It's big, bold and fruity with a very smooth, drinkable alcohol presence and had just a touch of a woody tinge at the end.
     
    7) Hoppin Frog "B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher"
     
    WOW is a good word to discribe this brew. This Oatmeal Stout has this splended sweet malty choco-coffee flavor and is nice and chewy, what an awesome combination...
     
     
     
    Hoppin Frog Brewery - Akron, Ohio USA
    Imperial Stout (ABV 9.4%)
    Rating: 4.1/5.0
     
     Poured a thick dark rich black with a very small (less than 1 finger) dark medium brown creamy head that was fully diminishing and had fair lacing.
     The aroma hits you right off the bat with a strong tawny port alcohol scent followed by dark roasted cereal malts and a leathery yeast odor with hints of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some dark fruitiness, oats and a touch of toffee.
     It tasted mildly sweet with a note of toffee and dried fruit in the beginning then progressed into a nice bitter-sweet flavor with strong coffee and dark chocolate notes at the finish with the flavor lasting an average duration on the palate.
     Mouthfeel was extremely full in body and a little syrupy yet rather creamy in texture with a nice soft carbonation.
     Overall an awesome tasting Imperial Stout which has the flavors blending so well that the heavy alcohol odor barely shows itself in the taste.
     
    6) Brooklyn "Local 1"
     
    This brew was one of the best Strong Ale's I have tasted, not just including this year. I mean overall.
     
     
    Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn, New York USA
    Belgian Strong Ale (ABV 9%)
    Rating: 4.2/5.0
     
     Poured a cloudy medium yellowish orange with a very large (2-3 finger) white frothy head that had great longevity and excellent lacing.
     The aroma was moderately heavy of grain malts, an earthy yeast and flowery hops with nice notes of citrus, banana and a bit of spice (coriander I believe).
     It tasted kind of sweet with a hint of citrus at first and then became a bit bitter and quite yeasty with a mild alcohol finish leaving a nice bold flavor lingering on the taste buds for a long while.
     Mouthfeel was right in the middle of light and medium in body and had a dry texture with a nice prickly carbonation.
     Overall a great Strong Ale with a medley of components coming together for one really fantastic tasting brew which does a nice job of concealing the high alcohol content.
     
    5) Dogfish Head "Burton Baton"
     
    I thought this brew was fantastic and I am just starting to appreciate hoppy beers. This is a definite must try.
     
     
    Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Milton, Delaware USA
    Imperial IPA (ABV 10%)
    Rating: 4.2/5.0
     
     The pour was a clear medium amber that had a slight yellow hue around the edges of the glass with a large (2-3 finger) rocky white head that was mostly lasting and had excellent lacing.
     The aroma was heavy of herbal hops, caramel malts and a sweet yeast with hints of oak, honey and citrus (Grapefruit and maybe a little orange).
     It tasted mildly sweet and a little acidic with a nice caramel note in the beginning. Then progressed into a hoppy-bitter-sour flavor with a nice citrus note and a mild alcohol finish, which left the flavor lingering for a good long time after the swallow.
     Mouthfeel was just a tad under medium in body with the texture being smooth and creamy and having a very nice soft carbonation.
     Overall a fantastic Imperial IPA that has a nice mix of sweet and hoppy with a nice citrus undertone. I really enjoyed this brew, even though I am just starting to appreciate hoppy brews.
     
    4) Three Floyds "Moloko Milk Stout"
     
    I received this for a fellow Craft Beer lover. It was smooth, creamy and wonderfully tasty. Three Floyds puts out a multitude of great beers and I want to try them all.
     
     
    Three Floyds Brewing Company - Munster, Indiana USA
    Sweet Stout (ABV 8%)
    Rating: 4.2/5.0
     
     The pour was a muddy dark brown almost black in color with a very large (on the heavy side of 3 fingers) creamy medium brown head that lasted throughout and produced some really excellent lacing.
     The aroma was wonderfully heavy of some burnt dark malts and a strong leathery yeast with notes of dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, molasses and a hint of dark fruit.
     The taste was moderately sweet with a hint of dark chocolate and molasses at first then it became extremely malty and moderately bitter with a nice creamy coffee finish. The flavor lasted a very long time after the swallow letting one relish the bitter chocolate coffee flavor.
     Mouthfeel was robustly full in body and smooth and creamy in texture with a nice soft carbonation.
     Overall an exquisite Stout with the flavors contributing to each in such a way as to produce a truly delightful drinking experience.
     
    3) Thirsty Dog "Siberian Night"
     
    Drinking this brew was was most definitly one of the beer highlights of 2011. This is a beer that I will be having again & again...
     
     
    Thirsty Dog Brewing Company - Akron, Ohio USA
    Imperial Stout (ABV 9.7%)
    Rating: 4.3/5.0
     
     The pour was a murky pitch black with a large (2-3 finger) rocky light brown head that lasted throughout and had excellent streaky lacing.
     The aroma was definitely intense with a strong dark roasted bread malt and a mildly sweet leathery yeast that had notes of dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, and a mild caramel sweetness with just a hint of alcohol.
     It tasted fantastic to say the least, it started with a mild sweetness that had hints of caramel and coffee, then progressed into a bitter-sweet coffee flavor with the finish having a strong presence of dark chocolate. The flavor was left lingering for a nice long time after the swallow letting everything meld together and settle in rather nicely on the palate.
     Mouthfeel was tremendously full in body and very creamy in texture, yet slightly watery at the end with a moderately soft carbonation.
     Overall a superior Imperial Stout that left the flavor lying on the taste buds for a decent duration, allowing a full enjoyment of all the components of this extremely tasty brew.
     
    2) Russian River "Pliny the Elder"
     
    This is a beer I heard was the best IPA in the world. Well after tasting it I am inclined to agree. It was superbly balanced and very flavorful, just pain AWESOME...
     
     
    Russian River Brewing - Santa Rosa, California USA
    IPA (ABV 8%)
    Rating: 4.3/5.0
     
     The pour was a medium clear yellow with a slight amber hue and a large (2-3 finger) white frothy head that lasted throughout and had good lacing that spottily stuck to the glass.
     The aroma gets you right away with strong grassy and citrus hops, grain malts and a moldy cobweb scented yeast with notes of orange peel and lemon zest.
     The taste was ever so nicely bitter-sweet and slightly malty with a touch of lemon at first then had a nice hoppy bitterness come through with a nice does of orange peel at the end. The flavor lasted a good long time allowing for the hops and citrus to blend really well leaving a wonderful lingering aftertaste.
     Mouthfeel was light to medium in body with a nice dry texture and a soft carbonation.
     Overall an extremely good tasting IPA with all factions (hops, malts and citrus) blending together to form a very unique tasting experience. I can see now why it is referred to as the pinnacle of IPA's.
     
    1) Flying Fish "Exit 13 Chocolate Stout"
     
    Well we are here #1 for 2011. This was an exquisite tasting beer; thick and chewy, smooth and tasty, a chocolate lovers dream. All hail the brewery from NJ, never had a bad beer from them and probably never will..
     
     
    Flying Fish Brewing Company - Cherry Hill, New Jersey USA
    Foreign Stout (ABV 7.5%)
    Rating: 4.3/5.0
     
     It poured a very deep dark black with a large (2-3 finger) dense creamy medium brown head that lasted throughout and had exquisite lacing that stuck very well to the glass.
     The aroma right off gets you with a nice whiff of chocolate then a moderate roasted dark bread malt and a sweet leathery yeast with hints of dark roasted coffee, caramel, a touch of dark fruit and a tinge of citrus.
     The taste well lets just say "WOW" begins with a mild bitterness that has a nice note of coffee, then it progresses into a much sweeter flavor with a large dose of chocolate and a mild fruitiness at the end. The flavor only lasted an average amount of time after the swallow which was rather disappointing since it tasted so good.
     Mouthfeel was extremely full and chewy in body with the texture being super creamy and having a nice soft carbonation.
     Overall this brew with out a doubt is one of the best beers I have ever sampled. This one definitely makes my top 10 thus far.
     
     
    Well that's all I have for this year. Let 2012 be a great year for all, and have a "Happy New Beer".
     
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