Once again, before I launch the 2017 installment of my best and worst, here is the rule reminder: All the beers listed were tried for the very first time in 2017. It does not matter when the beer was released, only that I tried it for the very first time in calendar year 2017. As always, the bottom ten are mostly based on styles that I tried and did not like and are not a slam on the brewery or the beer, just not my cup of tea for whatever reason.
I have to start with the best beers first because I feel guilty about starting to like sours and want to get that off my chest immediately.
Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne
Well she is the culprit that broke through and hit my sour spot. The day started innocently enough with me having a meeting with the team at Blue Note Beverage, the craft industries up and coming consultancy run by Easy E and A Rod from beer camp. I was doing my usual run of stouts, IPA’s and Belgians when Easy ordered this red temptress. I immediately began to chastise him for his choice when he confidently pushed a small glass in front of me and said, “It is time for you to become a man”. Easy poured the Duchesse and slid it over to me. It did not look like any beer I would ever drink but I felt an odd pull to the dark side. I raised the glass and took a hesitant sip and…I actually liked it, a lot. The Duchesse opened the flood gates to a world of Flander’s Reds, Cuvees and Berliner Weiss’s so she deserves a spot in the top 10 for 2017. On a side note, Brownie thinks this tastes like vinegar…
Old Nation M-43
Old Nation is going to be in this countdown a couple times in this top 10. The New Orthodox IPA Series was a category creator that pretty much started the Hazy New England IPA craze and has catapulted Old Nation into craft beer stardom. When I first tasted M-43 I immediately declared that this was their Heady Topper or Zombie Dust (not a tough one to predict, although I thought the iPad was silly when it first came out so I am not a reliable futurist). M-43 became one of my go to IPA’s for 2017. It is also the perfect shower beer after Jiu Jitsu because of its flavor, ABV, and the fact that it is in a can. Now everybody and their brother has a NEIPA. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit
It would not be a Profmanfredi top 10 without a Three Floyds appearance. They just continue to amaze me with their beers. Rabbid Rabbit is a special release saison that may have contributed to the beginning of my sour conversion. It has just a little bit of tart and horse blanket but it totally fit the beer and my taste buds. This is a beer that I buy any chance I get because it is really spectacular and totally unique.
Old Nation The Boxer
The second beer from the NE whatever series. I like this one better than M43. It has just a little bit of bite on the finish that M43 lacks. I will pick this one over M43 and Boss Tweed when given the opportunity.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve Mexican Spice Cake
This is a beer I wish I would have tried right away after I bought it because I would have run back to get more. Instead I waited too long to try it, ended up loving it, and then could not find more. I even had to raid the private stash of One Under Stephen (One Under Brother Brian took it and gave it to us so I did not feel that bad). This beer is delicious and I even liked the peppers in this beer leading to me reconsidering another beer rule. I really hope they do this one again.
Founders Breakfast Stout Nitro
The carbonation in keg systems is typically created with carbon dioxide. There is another gas that can be used in keg systems, and that gas is nitrogen (nitrogenation?). When nitrogen is used with draft beer it creates a much different experience with the overall flavor and mouth feel of the beer. Nitrogen absolutely brings Breakfast Stout to life, making the flavor jump out of the glass while the beer lays like velvet on the tongue. This is a must try for any Breakfast Stout lovers as it will totally give this beer new life. It may also make you experiment to re-create the experience at home (yup I tried). I took a bottle of Breakfast Stout and a nitrogen draft can of Guinness and mixed them together in a glass. Unfortunately, it did not create the same experience and I ended up with something that did not even taste that good.
Old Nation Green Stone
This is actually my favorite from the NE series by Old Nation. It is just perfect. It is also a lower ABV so it is sessionable. This is the one I will buy in volume if the ever can it for their retail footprint. It is balanced, flavorful, and unique. Really well done and an absolute joy to drink.
Brewery Vivant Devastation
With all the hype surrounding Doom by Founders, this beer almost slipped through the cracks. I was given one by a jits buddy, Ginger Kellen, who nailed this one. I went on a hunt for this beer and got a few more and it is absolutely better than doom. It uses Tree Bucket as the base IPA (Belgian style DIPA) which gives this beer a whole different taste for a BBAIPA. Be careful though as this is a jack hammer of a beer that had me dizzy after one.
Firestone Walker Helldorado
This is a late entry from a December trip to LA. It was described as a Blonde Barley Wine and Firestone Walker is not distributed in Michigan so I had to try it. Boy am I glad I did. This beer was astounding. It was also a big ABV malt bomb. I also had a Stikkee Monkee from Firestone which was equally amazing but Helldorado inched it out. I have yet to get a clunker from this brewery and really want them to start distributing in Michigan.
#1 Cantillon Classic Gueuze
This beer would not have been on my radar if not for the Duchesse. After my sour cherry was popped Big Bad Brian from my local texted me asking if I wanted him to hold a Cantillon for me. I eagerly said yes and went there as soon as I could to pick it up. I tried it at the end of the fall and was blown away by how amazing it was. Worth the 100 score and the price tag. Never thought a sour would ever make the top ten let alone be in the number one spot. Here is to new experiences.
Now for the beers in 2017 hall of shame.
Our Beer Camp home brewed India Pale Lager
This camp was not for kids and the beer was not for consumption. My main issue with this beer was that it tasted like nothing. I was there and saw all the hops we put in it, and even did the dry hopping myself. The hops did not step out for this beer at all and I was disappointed to say the least. At least they did not explode in my garage like the last failed home brew attempt. Note to self, “let the professionals brew the beer and I will focus in drinking it.”
I know that I have gone on record supporting experimentation at breweries. Innovation pushes the industry forward and breweries have to accommodate many people’s tastes, not just mine. Founders took big swings this year with their new barrel aged series that departed from many of the staples of bourbon barrel aged beers in 2017. Unfortunately for me, few of them were big misses and Frootwood was one that did absolutely nothing for me. This is another time when I am really happy that my local, The Wine Palace, lets people buy singles. I bought one Frootwood and that was one too many. I did not dump it, but there were several times when I stood up and went to the sink, then went back and sat down to keep sipping. To my dismay this beer never got better for me.
Perrin The Hypocrite
This is an Imperial Blonde Ale aged in Merlot barrels. Matt from Walled Lake recommended this to me when I was at Wine Palace. Usually Matt is spot on but this was a big miss for me. I just can’t get the wine barrel aged beers to take. However the definition of insanity rules here and I kept trying them. I choked this one down because I did not have anything else except hair spray to drink otherwise. It is really painful to filter the hair spray to get the alcohol out, so I finished this and switched to gin.
Dark Horse/Old Nation German Hobo Malt Liquor
Second malt liquor to make the bottom 10. I drank gallons of Mickeys Malt Liquor in college. Why? Because it was cheap, had a higher ABV, and we could buy it with a fake I.D. at a local party store. I woke up in chairs with half drank forties in my lap a few times. As much as I have a fondness for nostalgia, a craft malt liquor is just not needed. I finished this beer but it was a chore for sure.
See above…the only thing worse than a Malt Liquor is a barrel aged one. This was strike two for the barrel aged series, ‘nuf said.
Perrin Caesar’s Gimp
I think I may have bought this because of the name and the art on the bottle. I certainly did not buy it for the beer. An amber aged in Merlot barrels that tasted like I was being punished for some unknown crime. If I would have taken this beer into a confessional, drinking it would have been my penance. Dumping a bomber is a whole new level of pain. “Forgive me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was 25 years ago…”
Founders Green Zebra
A watermelon Gose…what could go wrong? I would not have even tried this beer in 2016 but my new taste for sours led me to attempt it. It just did not work for me in any way. Reminded me of Watermelon Bubbleicious gum soaked in an infected lager. Did not finish this one but ordered it on draft so I could not dump it. Just left it on the table, alone and ashamed.
Three Floyd’s Trump and Pump
Brownie and I saved this for a year after Dark Lord Day. It was a Dark Lord variant aged in Sauternes Barrels. We renamed this Trump and Dump because it ended up in the plants in my back yard. Oddly enough the plants that grew there had beards and tattoos. If I ever buy another beer aged in wine barrels I hope I get hit by a car in the liquor store parking lot.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve S’mores
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?
DUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPED DUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPED DUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPED DUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPEDDUMPED!
Boulevard Brewing Company Rye on Rye on Rye
This was the first beer I ever brought to a bottle share that I had to apologize for. It basically tasted like a boiler maker, and this was after two years in the cellar. Just a big disappointment all the way around. Way too boozy and just hard to drink. Of course, since I brought this dog to the party I had to finish it. Rules are rules.
I look back in 2017 and it seems like I had a pretty average “new beer year”. If the sour gates had not been opened I probably would have been hard pressed to get a top 10 that fit into my rules for this list. My goal for 2018 is to get Brownie on the sour bandwagon…wish me luck and cheers to 2018!