Happy New Years Eve! I am a Champagne or sparkling wine proponent for your NYE toast. With that said, I believe there are a few beers that are not only appropriate as an alternative to sparkling wines but excellent in their own right and should be considered either in stead of, or in conjunction with a sparkling wine.
Mikkeller: Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Brut The Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Brut is of My Favorite Beers of 2016. This is the perfect beer to drink on New Years or anytime for that matter. It is truly fantastic, lots of funk, a little white wine and citrous, just fantastic. It is expensive for a beer, but $20 is still cheap compared to a good champagne.
Weihenstephan & Doemens: 1809 Berliner Style Weisse This authentic interpretation of the Berliner Weisse style is simply delicious. This tart wheat hods a special significance to me, as I recently earned a masters degree in history and predominantly focused on modern Germany. The Berliner Weisse beer was toasted by Napoleons Army after their Prussian victory in 1809. The historical significance alone makes this beer an excellent choice for New Years Eve but, as I mentioned earlier, this beer is very tasty in its own right.
Samuel Adams: Infinium The inclusion of the Infinium, on this list, should surprise no one. After all, the Infinium was specifically brewed to be a champagne like beer. It is also pretty good. The Infinium is highly carbonated, fairly sweet and yeasty with some fruitiness.
Any Gueuze This variation of a lambic is one of my favorite styles for any occasion. It is especially pertinent on New Years Eve. These dry, musty, cidery, complex sours are often considered the beer equivalent to champagne. Some good and readily available gueuzes to try are St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition, Hanssens Oude Gueuze, Oud Beersel Oude Geuze and Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze. If you can find anything from Cantillon, that would also be a stellar choice!
Lagunitas: Lagunitas Sucks Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Leftovers This is Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale in a different package. You have probably seen me write a lot about this beer. That is simply because it is good. The Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Leftovers is perfect for anyones New Years Eve festivities!
2016 has been an excellent year for beer in Springfield. I could make this article very long and still fail to mention many important Ozark beer developments. Do not worry, I have no interest in boring anyone with such things. I am merely gonna mention some of the largest beer related events of 2016 in the region.
By far the largest and most exciting development in the area was the introduction of Mothers Brewing Company. Mothers started out last spring and has, so far impressed me tremendously. They have a beautiful facility in downtown Springfield. On top of the aesthetics, they are making some great beer and charging very reasonable prices. I expect a lot of great things from them in 2016. Another brewery that deserves mention is Horseshoe Bend Brewing Company near the Lake of the Ozarks. Horseshoe bend has just completed a croudsourcing fundraising campaign in order to facilitate more production. I have not had their beer and do not suspect it will make it to Springfield in the near future, but am very glad to see their enthusiasm and desire to create good beer for the Ozarks. I wish them the best of luck in the future. I can not fail to mention that the Springfield Brewing Company recently changed ownership. Their brew master is now the owner and I see great things coming out of this. I was recently given a bottle of the Full Nelson, which is a Nelson Sauvin wheat wine and I was very impressed.
This year has also been a good year for both on and off premise beer consumption in Springfield. In 2016, Missouri saw the introduction of Green Flash Brewing Company and Stone Brewing Company which are both excellent breweries from San Diego. Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Nectar Ales, (which is one of my favorite breweries) from Paso Robles California, entered the Missouri market last spring as well. Very recently an excellent new brewery out of St. Louis, Perennial Artisan Ales, arrived on Springfield shelves. While those are certainly not all of the beers new to Missouri, in 2016, they some of the most acclaimed. With the introduction of those five breweries, Missouris already strong portfolio of available beers improved dramatically. Deschutes Brewery is supposed to come to Missouri early in 2016 and can not wait to see what else!
The selection on store shelves has greatly improved in 2016. I have also noticed a drastically improved tap selection at many bars. The Brown Derby Craft Beer Fest and Oktoberfest both went on and expanded in 2016. The Springfield Food and Wine Celebration added beer in 2016. Beer dinners and sit down tastings have been on the rise. The beer community in general is growing. Overall 2016 has been an excellent year for beer in Springfield and 2016 looks to be even better. Keep up the great work Springfield!
Sadly, I am only in my hometown of Kansas City for one more evening, luckily it will be an evening with some world class beers.
In another area of interest, I found this on Twitter Brewing Up. I am always excited to hear news about the success of craft beer. In 2016 the beer industry as a whole shrunk a little bit (2.0% which is actually not a little bit at all considering the size of the beer industry). The good news is the craft beer aspect of that industry 16.4%! To everyone working in the industry and everyone who enjoys good beer, congratulations and keep up the great work!
I am stoked to finally be back in Kansas City! So much so, that after working till midnight then driving three hours to Platte City (a suburb of Kansas City, in the north, near Weston which is home to McCormick Distillery and the Weston Brewing Company), I am wide awake! I will have some excellent beers to drink. I hope to either hit up Swagger or All Stars while I am here and since all of my friends in town are Flying Saucer junkies, I am sure I will end up there as well. Beer-wise, I am especially excited to drink what I am calling the Three Crazy Russians (I know the name needs some work) which are the 2016 Big Sky Ivan the Terrible, North Coast Old Rasputin XIV and a Cigar City Marshal Zhukovs Imperial Stout in one setting! I will certainly inform you all how that went!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Sadly, I spent most of my holiday working. I did have some fun on Saturday night. This fun started with Shmaltz Brewing Companys Jewbelation Fifteen. This American Strong Ale is an outrageous beer, clocking in at 15% abv! The Jewbilation 15 pours a dark brown with a decent but fleeting head. There are dark fruits and alcohol on the nose. On the taste, the booze is present but not as much as I expected at 15% abv. The Jewbelation 15 is very sweet with some molasses, dark fruits, caramel, chocolate and a lot of sweetness. The Jewbelation 15, like all of the Jewbelations I have had is extremely complex and tasty. I am not normally a huge fan of overly sweet beers, although I do not see how this one could be any other way at 15% abv, but I would not turn this one down and would be especially curious to see what this evolves into with some age. I am also impressed with its price, a beer of this strength and quality, rarely costs less than $8.
First off, Merry Christmas! I hope your Christmas Eve went smoothly. I recently had a beer that can be seen as seasonalbly appropriate, the Brasserie Bourganel Biere au Nougat. I received the beer from Michael Jacksons Rare Beer Club for this December. It earned horrible reviews from Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. This is a prime example of why review sites should never be the only factor one looks at when they are considering a beer. I do not think this was a good beer by any means, but I do not think it was nearly as bad as the ratings suggest. Yes, some of the main flaws reviewers mentioned were evident, it was a little watery, it did not taste like a beer and the flavors did seem to have trouble blending. Still, it was exactly what the label claimed, a beer brewed with nougat. The nougat flavor was evident on the nose and the taste. There was a strong nougat aftertaste as well, which I enjoyed. It really did taste like a Kit Kat Bar! I do not plan on drinking a lot more of the Biere au Nougat, but am glad I tried it once. I think it was innovative and deserves at least a little credit for that. I have never tasted or heard of a beer like the Biere au Nougat.
Perennial Artisan Ales is a new brewery in Saint Louis that started in late 2016 or early 2016. Boy, are they making a splash! I thought 20 dollars for a bottle of beer from a brewery that is less than a year old was pretty audacious. Then, I tried the Abraxas and my feelings instantly reversed. The Abraxas was phenomenal. It pours an thick oily black with a robust mocha head. The nose contained a soft roasty aroma with hints of pepper and anise. On the pallet was where the real magic happened. This beer is delicious, there is a strong anise component that is balanced perfectly by a lot of bitter chocolate. It has a lot of other things going on including some cinnamon sweetness. I did not taste a lot of chilis, but that could be due to the fact that I am constantly eating dangerously spicy foods. The Abraxas is extremely well crafted and finishes really smoothly and creamy. It is an absolute marvel, get it before the rest of the beer community catches on!
On a side note, I am proudly from Kansas City and a little biased. However, the Saint Louis brewing community has a lot going on. I think Schlafly is an excellent brewery. I like OFallons seasonals (I know that some of these, were and may still be brewed in Wisconsin) and the 5 Day IPA. With, Perennial as well as several other new breweries that are under development, some great beer bars and liquor stores such as The Wine and Cheese Place and Friar Tucks, Saint Louis has the makings of becoming an even greater beer city. It does not seem right to talk about St Louis beer and not mention Budweiser. So there, I mentioned it.
I know this list is entirely subjective. Sadly, there were many new beers that deserve to make this list that I was not fortunate enough to try and many that I simply forgot (it has been a very eventful year). Still 2016 was an excellent year for beer in my world and these are some of my favorites. Hopefully, 2016 has some tricks to compete! The list is in no particular order and I am trying to focus on beers that were new to 2016 (or at least new to bottles, if I am mistaken on some, I apologize), so classics such as Bells Hopslam and Chimay Grand Reserve are excluded.
Anchorage Brewing Company: Bitter Monk with a description like this Belgian style double IPA with Brettanomyces. this ale is aged in french oak chardonnay barrels. Brewed with Apollo, Citra, and Simcoe hops. Dry hopped in the barrel with Citra hops. Triple fermented- First in the tank with a Belgian yeast, second in french oak chardonnay barrels with brett, and finally in the bottle with a third yeast for natural carbonation. how can it be bad? The complex, funky taste lived up to the hype.
Mikkeller: Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Brut This is the perfect beer to drink on New Years or anytime for that matter. It is truly fantastic, lots of funk, a little white wine and citrous, just fantastic. It is expensive for a beer, but $20 is still cheap compared to a good champagne.
Jolly Pumpkin: Lupulo De Hielo This Michael Jacksons Rare Beer Club exclusive is one of many reason I will continue to utilize that excellent service. This beer is crisp, funky and complex. Like many of Jolly Pumpkins offerings, world class all the way.
Boulevard: Collaboration No. 2 White IPA This beer was the result of a collaboration with Deschutes Brewery. This beer retains some of the lightness and spice of a wit yet boasts some strong citrousy hops. In three words, it is beautiful.
New Belgium: Le Terroir Released for the first time in bottles this spring. This beer is astonishingly refreshing, tart and fruity.
Firestone Walker: Firestone 15-Aniversary Ale I am not sure where to begin on this one, this is an extremely complex blend of amazing beers. There are layers upon layers of delicious flavors, including toffee, bourbon, coffee, dark fruits and the list goes on.
Lagunitas: Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale Do not let the clever, self depreciating name fool you. This American double IPA is astounding. It contains about everything I could ever hope for from an IPA and I have all but forgotten about Brown Shugga. I can not wait for Leftovers.
Founders: Canadian Breakfast Stout Bottled for the first time in 2016. This maple barrel aged version of the already stellar Kentucky Breakfast Stout is a real treat, if you can find it.
Avery: Rumpkin This beer is huge clocking in at 15.9%. It is also very sweet and boozy, but unique, complex and delicious.
Firestone Walker: 2016 Abacus I have not had previous incarnations of the Abacus, but this English Style barley wine is one of my favorite beers of all time. The 2016 Abacus is decadent, smooth and so complex it is perfect for long contemplation.
A few very unique honorable mentions include, Rogue Bacon Maple Ale, Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life and Limb, Odell Friek and New Belgium Kick.