Horus Shares His Ten Favorite Beers of 2019
To keep the tradition alive for the third year straight, Kyle Harrop, known to some as “Horus” wants to share his ten favorite beers of the year. For those that don’t know Kyle, he is the man behind Horus Aged Ales. He travels the world year after year collaborating with the “who’s who” of craft beer. Along his travels, he is able to taste a great amount of rare and delicious beer. We hope you enjoy this list from our boy ‘Horus.’ – The Full Pint
2019 went by far too quickly. Even though I caught the cocktail bug this year, I drank a significant amount of lager, and there were a lot of really good ones. There were also some awesome wild ales, a couple amazing Barleywines, and craft brewers are making better Stouts than ever. This list was even harder to pick than previous lists. The following are my favorite ten beers of 2019 in no particular order.
Bottle Logic Brewing “Arcane Rituals”
I drank this beer last night, so you can say it was fresh in my mind, but it is the best Barleywine I have had since the last Anchorage offering. It is no wonder this collab brewed with Ritual Brewing out of Reldands, CA won gold at FOBAB last month. Crisp base malt is the perfect canvas for oak barrels. Cognac, Brandy, and Bourbon all shine at different times. You can tell this one was boiled for a long time because the concentration of flavors and thickness are very well pronounced. There are dates, figs, raisins, plums, burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, black cherries, vanilla, oak, fruit cake, milk chocolate, and booze. This is my favorite Bottle Logic offering to date, even more than “Staff of Asir,” wink wink.
My favorite local brewery hit a grand slam with this one. I drank more cans of this than any other beer in 2019. Nelson is my favorite hop and has been since my first Alpine experience back in the day. The Nelson in this beer makes me want to travel to New Zealand next April. I would put this unfiltered Pislner against any other one out there. This is extremely crisp, prickly even, thirst quenching, and has such a cool citrusy hop finish. The malt flavor pops and the aroma is outstanding. It was great on draft and in package. It was consistently great each time I had it. I look forward to drinking more lagers from Burgeon!
Hill Farmstead Brewery “Samuel”
I crossed visiting Vermont and Hill off my bucket list in August. I had a Poetica #3 in an Adirondack chair on the lawn there with my buddy John and I will never forget how magical that beer was, but it was technically brewed in 2018. However, I have had Samuel four different times now and I would argue it is the best American made Farmhouse Ale ever. It has everything, it is bright, fruity, bitter, crisp, and complex. I got a lot of melon, elderberry, granny smith, lemon rind, pear, kiwi, barnyard, and honey. I love how the buckwheat and spelt are in the forefront before transitioning into citrus and funk with a hint of sweetness.
Mason Ale Works “Baker’s Dozen”
I am a sucker for a good Pastry Wine and this is my favorite one to date. The combination of Barleywine and Maple Bourbon barrels are a great pairing. Barleywine is indeed life, with adjuncts or without. It is still my favorite beer style. The choice of adjuncts was perfect for the base. The coffee is very complex with fudge, honeysuckle, jasmine, and vanilla qualities. This collaboration with Modern Times was quite the beer to come out of a can. I could not detect any of the 13%, it was sweet but balanced, and had great barrel presence. I am glad I have a few of these stashed for this winter.
This beer blew my mind each time I had it. Banana, banana, and more banana. It is so hard to get that real banana flavor to come through in a beer and my buds in Brooklyn did it masterfully. I will look back at this beer years from now and say this was groundbreaking, heck it already is. Nobody has accomplished this with this fruit and probably never will. This is a great example of how good a non-barrel aged Stout really can be. Thai bananas are my new fascination. You get all the adjuncts, especially coconut and macadamia nuts. The vanilla lingers in the finish. This is what tropical Stout dreams are made of.
Rowley Farmhouse Ales “Agent Orange Apple Brandy Barrel Aged”
I used to call Rowley the most underrated brewery in the world, but now I cannot because they went bonkers at GABF this year. Apple Brandy barrels are not easy to work with and I can say that from firsthand experience. However, this Flanders Red would make one think differently. It is very wine like. It has ideal acidity, a ton of barrel, and a slightly sweet finish. There is dark fruit, cherries, red apple, vanilla, brown sugar, and lemon. The mouthfeel is spot on and inviting. The Brandy from Santa Fe Spirits that first occupied the barrel used for this beer is great on its own too. This is a perfect marriage of a local brewery and distillery and a perfectly executed beer.
I visited Side Project for this first time this past summer. Cory, Karen, Tommy, Rachel, Brian, and the rest of the crew are some of the nicest people I have met in this industry. This was just one of the phenomenal beers we opened that day. I doubt I will ever come across a beverage where vanilla was integrated so elegantly. This was one of the best Stouts I have had in my entire life. It is vanilla to the highest degree. D11 is thick, full of malt complexity, has layers of chocolate, oak, great barrel character, perfect amount of carbonation, and tasted better with every sip. It is perfect, and there is not much else I could put into words to describe how good it really is.
This is the best Helles Lager I have ever had. The beer is as clean and crisp as they come with perfect carbonation, resulting in a pillowy mouthfeel. It has light bitterness and the malt character is soft. It is a beautiful golden color with an above the rim fluffy head. I have had one on a scorching hot summer day, a rainy day, and a cold night, and it was equally enjoyable in all types of weather. The drinkability is unparalleled and has mass appeal to all kinds of beer drinkers. It is flavorful, crushable, refreshing, and medium bodied. What more can you ask for from a Helles?
Tree House Brewing Company “Very Gggreennn”
I spent a week in New England this past summer and finally got to visit this beautiful brewery. It is a magical place and this beer was equally incredible. It threaded the line of juicy and bitter, hid its ABV completely, and was one of the better Double IPAs I have ever had. It is very juicy, almost sorbet-like. The Australian hops pop and give off a huge orange and pineapple aroma. The flavor is tropical with more citrus notes that linger in a great way. This is one of those beers that are scary drinkable considering its strength. I did not drink many hazy beers this year but this without a doubt the best one that I did.
This is the best beer and wine hybrid I have to date. Before this, it was two other interpretations of Oenobier from Trillium, so they have this style completely dialed. This particular variant stands out because of its complex honey profile and perfect acidity. The grape flavor is across the map and the level of carbonation is ideal. To produce a sour beer with this high of an alcohol content and make it taste decent is quite a feat in itself, but this is absolutely delicious. There is a really cool lemon character in both the aroma and flavor. The funk is very pronounced and it has a dry finish. It would be hard to find a better beer to pair with your holiday dinner.