Well, here it is, probably one of the last posts here on The Brew Club for 2011 and I thought I’d try something different this year instead of the old and worn-out Happy New Year posts we’ve been doing.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that wishing people a Happy New Year doesn’t seem to actually create a Happy New Year for me – or them.
I understand the sentiment, I really do, but I think I’m going to be contrarian this go-round and specifically wish people (except you, of course!) a crummy 2012. I don’t see how it could hurt to try all things considered.
This year, I thought we’d try a “Best Beer of 2011” post, and see how it goes. I’m hoping we can cover a lot of ground, get some participation from the class, and hopefully have a little fun in the process.
I’m hoping you’ll tell us about yours in the comments!
So, here we go! The Best of Beer – 2011 Edition. For me, there are a few contenders for the top honor. Some sentimental, some just because they are kick-ass beers.
Scott’s Favorite Beer for 2011 – Ayinger Celebrator. This is an awesome beer, and most people who are fans of beer in general seem to recognize this. Heck, its printed all over the box that it comes in that its one of the top beers of all time or some such and its one of the few things in the world that if you believe the hype, you will be rewarded. I’ve had Celebrator before, and knew of its greatness.
To me, its the epitome of the Doppelbock. There are some other great Doppelbocks from Germany as well as some excellent Domestic craft examples, but nobody does it better than Ayinger. To quote one of our commenters, “Ayinger Celebrator, however, is the Doppelbockiest.”
So what makes this classic German beer one of my favorites for 2011? Well, this year my first child was born, and needless to say it was an interesting process! What was the beer I reached for when I found out I was having a girl? You guessed it.
I think it was a great choice, and to add to the silliness I even kept the little plastic goat on the bottle as a memento of the moment. 🙂 Aside from the sentimentality, it really is an enjoyable, high-quality beer that to me is the gold-standard for the oft-forgotten style.
Close runners up? Well, this year I discovered the Imperial Stout. Previously I shied away from the higher-ABV brews, because I typically don’t like how the alcohol can dominate the flavor. With Imperial Stouts, though, I’ve discovered that the alcohol flavors are more collaborative rather than dominant, making for a nicely warming beer with complex flavors.
I’ll lump some of my favorites together including the Sam Adams Imperial Stout, Sam Smith’s, the Old Rasputin from North Coast and Stone’s Russian Imperial Stout. All of them were fantastic and any of them would be a strong contender for my top beer of 2011 of it weren’t for Celebrator.
Bob the Brit’s favorite beer of 2011
I’ve thought long and hard over this.
As well as ‘normal drinking’ – down at my local, putting the world to right over a few beers with friends, I’ve probably tasted over fifty new brews for The Brew Club this year (it’s a dirty job…).
This isn’t too much of a hardship as there are some great breweries here in the UK doing some amazing stuff, Kernel brewery in London is producing great beers, as are my local (Essex) breweries, there’s that Scottish brewery I keep writing about, and there’s Thornbridge near Sheffield.
Standout brews of the year for me include ‘Bad King John’, ’Bengal Lancer’, ‘Old Golden Hen’, ‘Kernel Imperial Stout’, ‘Weihenstephaner Korbinian’ and ‘Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red’, as well as old friends like “Duchesse de Bourgogne” and Timothy Taylor’s ‘Landlord’. There are bottles of several of these on my beer shelf as I type this.
But at the end of the day I’ve decided to go for which beer has given me the most pleasure, which brew consistently puts a smile on my face. And that has to be ‘Jaipur’ from Thornbridge.
As I wrote when I reviewed it “Complex, refreshing and rewarding, beers don’t get much more rewarding than this.”
Bob the Brit
So, there you have it, The Brew Club’s favorite beers of 2011. Looking back, I was a little surprised at my choices, but there it is!
What about you? What are some of your favorite beers of 2011? Do you have a single standout beer? Let us know in the comments.