2010 was an excellent year for beer! Here are my top five beer experiences of the year.
Avec Les Bons Voeux (Brasserie Dupont)
Avec Les Bons is French for, "With best wishes." This beer is a Saison (or Farmhouse Ale), but brewed for consumption in the winter, rather than spring when Saisons are typically enjoyed. A Saison has never "wow-ed" me before this beer. Because this beer is meant for the cold months though, it's fuller in body with a bold, stronger flavor. It has a fruity aroma and clean spicy taste. For a beer at over 9% alcohol it is very drinkable and I have gone back to the store a few times for more.
Russian River Porter (Russian River Brewing Company)
The porter is a style of beer that dates back to the early 1700's. Prior to the Porter it was common to blend beers into a sort of "beer cocktail" before consuming to get the desired taste. The Porter was both the first beer formulated to meet the needs and tastes of the drinkers, which was to be smooth, mellow, and used a source of nourishment. It was also the first beer to aged in the brewery and brought to the pubs in a condition to be immediately. I was lucky enough to come across Russian River's Porter at Toronado Pub. It has a smooth and deep malty and chocolate flavor. It goes down smooth and is a really comforting beer that gives you a taste of the history of the style.
Pumking (Southern Tier Brewing Company)
This is the first great Pumpkin Ale I have ever had. Having it was a truly one of the highlights of the year for me. You really get a great pumpkin flavor and a silky smooth finish without overdoing it with the spices. When it comes out in 2011 be sure to grab as much as you can.
The Black India Pale Ale Brewing Style (BIPA Brew Style)
The BIPA is a new-ish style of IPA that I noticed became more popular throughout 2010. A BIPA is black in color from the addition of dark roasted malt, also giving it a more toasted roasty flavor while retaining the typical hoppyness of an IPA. If you're a fan of hops you should try one out. The best I had was at Magnolia Pub and Brewery.
Craft Brew Movement in Hawaii (Maui Brewing Company, top picture)
With the micro-brewery culture growing all across the United States, I was surprised, and excited, to actually see one in Hawaii. In a place where I expected to find nothing more than some imported beer gone bad and maybe a crappy touristy brewery, it was awesome to have some great beers at the Maui Brewing Company.
Happy New Year!