Dan from The Full Pint recaps the year in craft beer in a multi part series. Make yourself at home this holiday season here at TFP as we recap the last 12 months and get ready for another 12.
Allagash Brewing – Our friends to the north finished construction on their brewery in Portland Maine this year. To coincide with that, we have seen many new beers from their sour beer program, and some of those have seen wider distribution than normal. We are huge fans of their Coolship series and hope to see a larger batch of that. Also of note, Allagash took part in the creation of the super whale collaboration, Wild Friendship, blending with rockstars Cantillon and Russian River.
Beachwood Blendery – We all know the highly decorated Beachwood Brewing has perfected clean fresh ales in Long Beach, but did you know they challenged themselves to create authentic Belgian-style sour ales this year? Late this fall, Beachwood Blendery opened it’s doors and began releasing their Propagation Series beers. These beers are all expressing the different components and flavors found we love from other established sour beers. We look forward to seeing the next phase of this project as they are off to a very promising start.
Bottle Logic Brewing – It was a pretty good year for Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing. They lost their decorated brewer Kyle Manns, and some were worried for the future of this startup brewery. Then they single handily broke the internet with a bourbon barrel aged stout with vanilla bean, named Fundamental Observation. This is one of the most coveted beers on the trading board due to the awesome taste and low production yield. Since then, they’ve rode the momentum with other bottle releases, and even won a gold medal for the second year in a row for their dark lager, Lagerithm.
Coffee Beer/Coffee AND Beer – 2015 was a great year for those who love coffee and beer. Many brewers took notice of Noble Ale Works Naughty Sauce, a Golden Milk Stout with copious amounts of coffee, and presented their spin on the beer . Rather than tossing in hot coffee, espresso or whole beans in the boil, many experimented by using cold steeped coffee. Concentrated cold brewed coffee on its own became quite popular this year, and has made for a fun component for those at home wanting to blend with their beer.
Founders Brewing – Founders Brewing continued filling out the US map this year, finally entering into Northern California with the promise of entering Southern California shortly after. They have continued on with their Backstage Series, and the coveted KBS is as popular as it’s ever been.
Hangar 24 Brewery – While Hangar 24 lost their brewmaster Kevin this year, they kept Southern California fans pleased with their high quality beers aimed at the casual drinker as well as their extra enthusiastic beer geek fan base. They hit a few snags with their Barrel Roll Club, but they ended the year very strong with their Puga Fest, showcasing their monstrous barrel aged Imperial Stout in many variations.
Jester King Craft Brewery – Jester King has continued to lead in innovating craft beer in Texas. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of other top notch innovating breweries coming out of the lone-star state,it’s just that JK is killing it. 2015 saw second and third batches of many of their unpronounceable wild ales. They returned to Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Festival, and remain very popular on all the trade boards.
Vanilla Bean – Hold up, wait a minute, let me put some vanilla in it! Much like adding Citra hops to a beer made it an instant mega wale a few years ago, adding vanilla bean to a stout has peoples heads popping off.
Vermont IPAs – A few years ago, The Alchemist Heady Topper turned heads. Instead of the soapy, “balanced” crystal malt bombs many are used to from that neck of the woods, these guys made a beer that can hang with some of the best from San Diego or Nor Cal. Fast forward to today, and I can say with a straight face that some awesome IPAs are being made in Vermont, and they all stood very tall in 2015. This is great as Vermont will get the beer very fresh, and if there is enough to go around, it will trickle down the eastern sea board.