By: Cal Meacham
By all accounts 2012 was the year of craft beer as it exploded into the limelight. Mostly considered a beer snob or specialized industry reserved for elitists who talk about beer like it is the holy nectar of the gods (trust me it is!), craft beer started to gain some major respect from casual drinkers. People willing to put down their preconceived notions of the beverage and branch out from their standard Miller products.
Here in Orlando, we saw the opening of the incredible new Red Light Red Light which pulled in new customers and dropped some of the major deterrents of the old location (bad vibe for non beer heads, bad location, etc.). We also saw Cigar City (out of Tampa) move their staple brands on to a brand new canning line which allows us beer lovers to take CCB to the beach!
Elsewhere, Michigan continued its foothold in the beer community with the crowning of Grand Rapids as co-beer city U.S.A. Their beer bar Hopcat was named the #3 Best Beer Bar on The Planet by Beer Advocate and growth continues around the state. It furthers the idea that people are ready to set down the swill and drank with joy.
So here I am to do my part and submit to you my favorite Beers of the year! Cheers!
My judgement is based on the following criteria:
- If it is a regular run beer it can’t be a beer that I have had before
- I only considered this years editions of a Seasonal Beer
Cigar City – Cucumber Saison The perfect balance of crisp refreshing cucumber and a traditional saison. Pours with a nice fizzy head and opens to a golden straw color. This was easily the most unique (while still being delicious) beer that I tasted this year.
Cigar City Site – Link
Bruery – Tart of darkness A unique sour with hints of cherry with a nice body that you don’t find in a lot of sours. Don’t let the color throw you off, this is a sour at heart. Billed as a stout/sour, the sour takes the power while the stout flavors take a backseat but if you dig they are there. Closer to a black ale if you want to get picky.
Bruery Site – Link
Russian River – Sanctification My first dabbling with RR was their collaboration with Sierra Nevada called Brux. The buzz was heavy surrounding the brewery and when a friend brought back a few bottles, it was on. Lemon and green apple tartness with a little malty goodness this American Wild Ale is all the right things, at the right time.
Russian River Site –
Founders – Backwoods Bastard Founders seasonal/limited release was by all accounts………amazing. A scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels, the taste is not for the delicate palate. Sweet tasty morsels of flavor, I cannot think of a better beer for winter time…..even if you live in the warm southern weather.
Founders Site – Link
Cigar City – Cubano Espresso A brown ale full of coffee flavor and hints of chocolate, this was to be my winter beer of choice but it disappeared off the shelves when CCB had production issues. I hope it makes it back soon as this would be great for a night out on the front porch, enjoying the breeze. Many have tried a coffee infused beer but none taste quite like this.