I recently wrapped up my 30th year on the planet & felt like it was time to create a list. So here are my top 10 favorite beers I have had so far. I tried removing the emotions from my beer experiences as much as I could in order to judge my favorites strictly based on their overall profile. Although a masterpiece like KBBS can provoke it's own euphoric sentiments usually they are derivative from the beer itself. I remember one of the best beers I ever had was sitting on a sunny beach in Cannes enjoying an unbelievably refreshing Carlsberg on my honeymoon. In that moment, it tasted perfect, but if I had it at a share next to Herfst it would likely be a different story. I also did not include Coors Banquet on my list even though the first time I stole one from my friends dad's fridge in 7th grade it tasted like freedom. I have had some truly amazing experiences centered around beer, but some of my most memorable sips of beer were more circumstantial than truly love at first sip. So the beers on my top 10 list are ones that I have dissected & can hang my hat on as my favorite beers based on their appearance & overall collection of flavors, aromas, & mouthfeel. I also included 40 more of my favorite beers to round out my top 50 & they are in no particular order. Lastly, there are still dozens of beers I have not had that I am frothing at the mouth to try. I am sure my top 10 list will look entirely different at 35 & I cannot wait to try the next beer that ends up breaking my top 10 & knocking off one of these exceptional creations.
Cantillon Crianza Helena - Crianza was the first white whale caliber lambic I ever had & it jumpstarted my desire to start acquiring & cellaring more of its kind. It stole the show for me at a share with other amazing lambics including multiple Uli blends, the Armand Seasons set, Framboos, & 50n4e. It is a thoroughly intricate lambic with layered & complex flavors of grapes, oak, lemon, a tint of apricot, & cognac.
Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas – Depending on the day, Barrel Aged Abraxas might be my favorite barrel aged stout. In my opinion, it is Cory King's best stout that he has created. The nose is a cinnamon bomb with a huge thick mouth feel. The cinnamon comes through just as much in the flavor accompanied by chocolate & vanilla beans, while light pepper & bourbon flavors are integrated perfectly. If my thievery skills were more on point I’d channel my inner Sean Connery & steal a barrel of this piece of art without even feeling bad about it. I need it.
Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout – Years ago, I bought the Batch 1 silver wax for $400 and I thought I had gone mad. Apparently, I was a visionary considering they are now fetching for over 2k. Batch 1 is a world class stout, but I actually have enjoyed the gold wax 2014 version more on several occasions. The nose is simply remarkable. Fudge, coffee roast, maple syrup, & chocolate collide to produce one of the greatest beer aromas in the world or maybe just one of the finest aromas in the world period. The taste is just as self-indulgent. Vanilla, bourbon, coffee, maple, & brownie flavors all show up to the party & are ready to party. KBBS is a preposterous beer all around from the hype, to the secondary market value, & most importantly its genetics.
New Glarus Very Sour Blackberry - In the words of Mrs. Doubtfire VSB is a drive by fruiting. It is a jammy, succulent, dream with blackberry & raspberry goodness. The real success comes from its balance. It is not an acid bomb nor is it overly sweet, which tends to be the tug & pull that American Wild Ales constantly face. It is a perfect poster child for the AWA style.
Voodoo ManBearPig – The Manbearpig figure needs a giant clock around its neck because it has some unbelievable Flavor Flav. It was my favorite beer of 2016 & in this day & age you have got to love a beer that can stand up to its hype. There is a decadent presence of honey on the nose, while the flavor is possessed with mild smoke elements, smooth bourbon, maple syrup, chocolate, & coffee.
Cantillon Saint Lamvinus - This is one of the most accessible beers on my list & it never ceases to amaze me. I keep coming back to it & it is one of the beers I trade for the most. It is a perfectly executed fruited lambic with slight oak flavors, a textbook balance of funk, & a grape ensemble that delivers a crescendo, drum solo, pulsating hips, & overly aggressive back up vocals with each sip. I can only dream that someday I try the illusive unblended 2004 version that has always been out of my reach.
Three Floyd's Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord '14 - I recently enjoyed this vanilla stout iconoclast for a third occasion. During my recent encounter, Marshmallow Handjee 16 & Pappy Van Winkle Dark Lord were along for the ride, but BVDL 14 reigned as the darkest lord of them all. Look, we live in a vanilla world and I am a vanilla girl so when you are my favorite vanilla stout that has got to count for something, right? I have never been much of a marshmallow person, but I like smelling this beer more than dogs like smelling each other’s butts. It tastes like eating a vanilla fudgsicle dipped in bourbon with tiny marshmallows on top. If that description doesn’t perk up the ears of your taste buds then you need to get them checked.
Toppling Goliath SR-71 - I am starting to think that Mike Saboe collaborated with my mother on this recipe because it tastes like the most plush chocolate brownies in the world. The nose has a cavernous, thousand-league-under-the-sea, rich chocolate kind of depth. It is wildly impressive that the entire flavor comes form the barrels with no adjuncts added. Touché, Toppling Goliath, Touché.
Sante Adairius Westly – I have been lucky enough to enjoy Westly on numerous occasions, but after I practically drank a 750's worth at the Rate Beer Festival I soon realized how strong my man crush was for Tim Clifford for creating this beer. I should have just asked him for his number. Oh wait, I did, but it was strictly for business purposes, I swear. Since the festival was in Northern CA most people were going ape shit over 3 Floyd’s, Hill Farmstead, & Side Project, & rightfully so, but I kept taking bumps of Westly all day long. It has twice the amount of apricots as West Ashley and it lets you know it. The nose is an orgy of stone fruit aromas, while it tastes like an unadulterated marmalade of apricots and nectarines. It is smooth as hell with a dry finish & a beautiful oaky character.
The Freshest & Best IPA at the Moment - Heady Topper, Pliny, Blind Pig, Mastermind, Hexagenia, Juice Jr., Nelson, Citra, and Julius are just some of my favorite IPA’s. When I am drinking beer 90% of the time you will catch me with an IPA in my hand. I love IPA's, but it is hard to claim a favorite. At the end of the day, it’s my go to beer style and my favorite one is the juicy fresh one I am currently drinking.
Rounding Out the Top 50 – (No IPA’s or Multiple Batches Included)
3 Floyd’s Pappy Van Winkle Dark Lord
3 Floyd’s Marshmallow Handjee 2016
Bottle Logic Fundamental Observation Batch 2
Cantillon Lambic d' Aunis
Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise 2008
Cigar City Double Barrel Hunaphu
Cigar City Life is Like
Cycle Rare Scooop
Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead the 5th
De Garde Stone Bu
De Garde The Broken Truck No. 1
De Garde Imperial Apricot Bu
Drie Fonteinen Herfst
Drie Fonteinen Lente
Drie Fonteinen Winter
Drie Fonteinen Zomer
Drie Fonteinen Armand & Tomme
Funk Factory Frampaars
Goose Island OG Rare
Hill Farmstead Art Batch 3
Hill Farmstead Beyond Good & Evil
Hill Farmstead Le Sarrasin
Hill Farmstead Works of Love Sante Adairius
J Wakefield Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit
J Wakefield Miami Madness
Jester King Atrial Rubicite
Midnight Sun M
Sante Adairius Stenciled Pages
Side Project Fuzzy Batch 1
Side Project Pulling Nails Batch 3
Side Project Merci
The Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus
The Lost Abbey Cable Car 2012
Toppling Goliath Assassin (Gold Wax)
Toppling Goliath Mornin Delight
Trappist Westvleteren 12
Westbrook Double Barrel Mexican Cake