2020 Beer In Review

2020 has been a strange year. For the craft beer industry it’s been incredibly challenging, however there was no shortage of magnificent beers to try. So without further ado here are my favorite beers of 2020 as well as my picks for Brewery of the year! 

Pineapple cloud 19- Brew Detroit 

I really don’t dig on a lot of IPA’s lately, I still have respect for the style but it’s rarely something that I find myself reaching for. Pineapple Cloud 19 definitely broke through though. This beer is juicy and hazy in all the best ways and absolutely bursting with pineapple. This is an absolutely amazing beer and I hope it finds its way to the annual lineup. 

Ambrosia – Ascension/City Built

Ascension has been a local favorite of Sommbeer since they opened. City Built was a brewery that I really just discovered this year but quickly gained a lot of respect for with every beer I tried. Seeing these two team up was definitely a high point of the summer. A Sour ale brewed with lactose, hopped with Cryo Sabro hops. Conditioned on cherries, oranges, pineapples, tangerines, coconut, vanilla beans, and marshmallows. There’s a lot going on in this beer and it all magically played well together. This beer really wasn’t all that sour, more like a sorbet sundae in a glass. 

BBA Oktoberfest- Drafting Table Brewing Co.

If I’m being honest, when I heard about the idea of a barrel aged Oktoberfest I had a fair amount of skepticism about how much I would like it. I couldn’t be more happy to be wrong here, this beer was amazing. Rich and decadent while still having an enjoyable lager flavor without an overly heavy body. Initially when this beer came out I bought 2 cans. After trying the first I immediately went back to Drafting Table and bought 8 more cans before they ran out. That’s how good this beer is. 

Peanut Butter S’more Stout -Hubbard’s Cave

This beer was my introduction to Hubbard’s Cave. I’ve always seen their overly simple cans popping up on my Instagram feed and been curious but hadn’t had the chance to try their beer. Luckily we live in a world with Tavour and I was able to get a couple cans to try in the mail. Peanut butter s’more is everything I want in a stout. It’s thick to the point where you almost have to chew it. Overwhelming with rich flavors in the best way imaginable. This beer isn’t a beverage, it’s an experience, and an experience that I highly recommend trying. 

Fruit of the Woods Pie – Abomination Brewing

I bought this beer totally based off its weird and creepy label. I knew I liked Abomination Brewing so I was pretty confident that this collaboration between Abomination, Hoax brewing and front porch brewing would be good. Good is a total understatement. This sour ale with blackberries, raspberries, apples, strawberries, rhubarb, lemon & vanilla beans is just and eccentric as it’s label and was a wonderful beer. Beers like this are creative and weird but still delicious, which is one of the things that make craft beer great. You can color way outside the lines and still have a wonderful product. 

Honorable Mentions-

  • New Holland – Dragon’s Milk Brewers select
  • Bell’s Brewing – 35th Anniversary Expedition Reserve
  • Transient Artisan Ales – Junie Goes Coconut
  • Drekker Brewing – Slang Du Jour Bumbleberry Pie
  • Hoof Hearted Brewing – Miracle Toast

Brewery of the year – Brew Detroit

I always liked Brew Detroit. Admittedly going into 2020 they were a brewery with a couple good beers and an awesome taproom. They stepped their game up dramatically this year. Every beer that dropped from January right through December has not only been good but it’s been fantastic. One of the hardest parts of this list was narrowing down 1 beer to represent Brew Detroit in my top 5. I went with Pineapple Cloud 19 because it’s outside of what I expected to like. Beers like campin beer, the cold brew set, slaps the roof, and of course flagships like Yumtown and Cerveza DelRay give this brewery an amazing portfolio. Unfortunately for me, I missed the launch of their barrel aging program and “Depth” this fall but I can’t wait to see what Brew Detroit gives us in 2021.

Honorable Mentions :

Drafting Table Brewing – This company continues to deliver world class beers and has hands down the absolute best staff on the planet.  Some of their new brews this year that I fell in love with include

  • Tree Rings, a brown ale with Maple
  • Freundschaft – a Munich Dunkel
  • Pressed – a Bourbon Barrel aged Espresso stout
  • Julifest – a summer Marzen

There are many more beers this brewery makes that I could ramble on about but I’ll leave it at the recommendation that you visit them in Wixom Mi. You won’t be disappointed. 

Bell’s Brewing

Bell’s is another brewery that had so many home runs this year it’s hard to talk about just 1 thing they did. Some quick beer highlights for Bells in 2020

  • Old Fashioned Holiday – a “Old Fashioned” inspired scotch ale
  • 35th Anniversary Expedition Stout – a Bourbon Barrel aged RIS
  • Light Hearted Ale – a low cal take on a classic IPA

One of the biggest bummers for me in 2020 is that I really didn’t get to hang out at Bell’s this year. I am eagerly looking forward to getting back to their tap room next year as I’m sure they will continue to have fantastic and innovative beers. 

Let’s all hope that in 2021 we can get back to normal life. I never realized how much I really need the social aspect and community that craft beer gives me and I can’t wait to see all my fellow bar flys in the new year! 

Happy New Year and Stay Safe!

John Fahrner

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