Monday, November 14, 2016

GToCG 2016 Homebrew Berliner Analysis

Great Taste of Cottage Grove 2016 – Homebrew Berliner Results

Gold Medal – Ryan Turner’s Jungle Cat
Silver Medal – Jeremy Ahrens’ Bear-liner Weisse
Bronze Medal – Andy Attwood’s Berliner Weisse
Other Participants: Josh Agate’s Rhythm is Life, Matt Frost’s Bad Apple, Dan Weiser’s Mainliner

The beers that Jeremy and Ryan put out both had the greatest amount of pucker factor, which was definitely popular with the voters.  I think Andy did the best job of putting together something that would traditionally strike you as a Berliner and that helped him secure the bronze

My Ballot
1) Bruery Hottenroth 2) Attwood 3) Agate 4) Turner 5) Jeremy 6) Frost 7) Weiser

The Takeaway
I think everyone that submitted a beer would fully admit they were not able to fully encompass what it is that makes a great berliner.  As an interesting reference point, I threw in The Bruery’s Hottenroth.  Tasting that beer it was immediately my favorite because it checked all the boxes in what I love in Berliner: big lactic notes up front, followed by the clean crisp finish.  The Bruery beer would have finished 4th if it would have been included.  I think Attwood overall did the best take on the style.  But as this competition dictates, this is open to the brewer’s interpretation and the people ranking the beers are choosing based on personal preference.  And the sour treats that Turner and Ahrens put together were absolutely fantastic.  Ryan Turner has secured bragging rights for the next 365 days.  Thanks to everyone that participated and I cannot wait until next year!

Monday, October 31, 2016

GToCG 2016 IPA Category Analysis

Great Taste of Cottage Grove 2016 –             IPA Results

Gold Medal – Treehouse Alter Ego
Silver Medal – Tired Hands Alien Church
Bronze Medal – Heist CitraQuench’l
Other Participants: Trillium DDH Sleeper Street and Toppling Goliath Pompeii

All hail Treehouse!  I honestly think this is their best beer and Alter Ego is absolutely phenomenal.  With the all the New England IPAs in this category, it was tough competition, but this beer masterfully balances all those huge flavors harnessing them into one amazing brew.  Second place went to Alien Church, which was slightly unremarkable, but very well balanced.  The two juice bombs came in third and fourth.  Heist placing slightly ahead of DDH Sleeper Street likely because Heist isn’t quite as over the top.  Pompeii wasn’t on the same field, they should head back to Double A ball.

My Ballot
1) Alter Ego 2) DDH Sleeper 3) CitraQuench’l 4) Alien Church 5) Pompeii

The Takeaway
I say it every single year, a well balance beer always performs the best in this type of setting.  First off, it is very tough to keep a beer that is bursting with flavors in check so it is quite the accomplishment.  But secondly, a well-balanced beer will play more favorable across a whole group.  The most well balanced beers came in first and second, only Alter Ego was playing teeter totter with 400lb sumo wrestlers.  The big juice bombs in CitraQuench’l and DDH Sleeper were either loved or hated.  Those two beers were both plagued with plenty of first place and plenty of last place votes.  And Pompeii, no comment.  Between this category and the Coffee Stouts, those were probably two of my favorite ever GToCG groupings.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

GToCG 2016 - German Pilsner Analysis

Great Taste of Cottage Grove 2016 – German Pilsner Results
Gold Medal – Sixpoint The Crisp
Silver Medal – Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
Bronze Medal – New Glarus Two Women
Other Participants: Metropolitan Flywheel and Victory Prima Pils

For this category, there was a best, a worst, and 3 in the middle.  Sixpoint walked away pretty convincingly.  I would say this is the most hopped of all the entries and that proved to be the deciding factor.  The 3 in the middle all scored the same.  New Glarus and Metropolitan created much more traditional varieties, while Firestone Walker had a more hopped presence, but not to the level of Sixpoint.  Prima Pils just didn’t fare well outside a few people with the most consistently low scores

My Ballot
1) Pivo 2) Prima 3) The Crisp 4) Flywheel 5) New Glarus

The Takeaway
In an era of hops, it proved to be a winning formula once again even for a traditional style.  And the more, the better!  This category definitely had a bit more nuance from entry to entry and required tasters to really take a closer look.  This revival of traditional styles is great and super enjoyable.  If you like a good pilsner, get yourself The Crisp!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

GToCG 2016 Coffee Stout Analysis

Great Taste of Cottage Grove 2016 – Coffee Stout Results
Gold Medal – Terrapin Wake n Bake
Silver Medal – Perennial Sump
Bronze Medal – Beachwood System of a Stout
Other Participants: The Bruery Share This and Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel

This category had the largest disparity from first to last place.  Wake n Bake had over a third of the first place votes and was consistently in the top half of most ballots.  I have always raved about this beer’s ability to blast with coffee while keeping some level of balance.  The other thing Terrapin does so well is match up a coffee and roast that pairs perfectly with the base beer.  Second place went to Sump with a beer that was either loved or hated with as many first as last place votes.  This beer was a little cooler on the coffee and lives on the strongest base beer.  System of a Stout was my favorite beer of the day and probably should have not been included since it has other spices in the beer beyond coffee.  Definitely my mistake for including it, but I was a huge fan and people loved or hated the spice notes.  The Bruery Share This actually tied for third and I don’t have much to say other than I was really impressed with The Bruery’s offering.  Peche Mortel was very consistently in the bottom of people’s ballots.  This was even a fresh batch, but it just didn’t offer up much in either terms of base or coffee

My Ballot
1) System of a Stout 2) Wake n Bake 3) Share This 4) Peche Mortel 5) Sump

The Takeaway
This is a category build on personal preferences.  Most of these beers really highlight the coffee while some do it with a balanced base and others want to show off the coffee.  The base beers were consistently very good with some being more chocolate forward and others more roasty.  I really love this style and I think I have finally figured out what the key is: find a coffee that matches up with your base beer.  Congrats Terrapin, you knocked it out of the park!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Great Taste of Cottage Grove 2016 Lines

Here are the lines for Saturday's tasting:

Treehouse Alter Ego                  5:2
Trillium DDH Sleeper Street      3:1
Heist CitraQuench'l                    4:1
Toppling Goliath Pompeii           5:1
Tired House Alien Church          6:1

German Pilsner 
Firestone Walker Pivo Pilz      7:2
Sixpoint The Crisp                   4:1
Victory Prima Pils                    4:1
New Glarus Two Women        9:2
Metropolitan Flywheel             6:1

Coffee Imperial Stout
Perennial Sump                            3:1
Dieu Du Ciel! Peche Mortel          7:2
Terrapin Wake n Bake                   4:1
Beachwood System of a Stout      4:1
The Bruery Share This                  7:1

Friday, February 12, 2016

Top 50 Breweries in the World (according to me)

I try to post this list once a year in late winter.  More than anything else, it always interests me to see how breweries change in my opinion and how new breweries enter the fray.  My criteria is that I have to have consumed at least 3 beers from a brewery.  I give favor to brewers that can do a wide variety of beers well.  Without further ado, the list with comments at the bottom.  The parenthesis show last year's ranking.  Who do you think I am missing on the list?  Any ratings you disagree with?

1. Side Project Brewing (2)
2. Brasserie Cantillon (3)
3. de Garde Brewing (15)
4. Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen (16)
5. Tired Hands Brewing Co (11)
6. Perennial Artisan Ales (4)
7. Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (10)
8. Hill Farmstead Brewery (9)
9. Firestone Walker Brewing Co (14)
10. Jester King Brewery (18)
11. Cigar City Brewing (5)
12. Westbrook Brewing Co (44)
13. Toppling Goliath Brewing Co (1)
14. The Bruery (13)
15. 3 Floyds Brewing Co (12)
16. Trillium Brewing Co (40)
17. 18th Street Brewery (NR)
18. Goose Island Beer Co (8)
19. 4 Hands Brewing Co (31)
20. Casey Brewing and Blending (NR)
21. Crooked Stave Brewery (6)
22. Tree House Brewing Company (NR)
23. The Lost Abbey (17)
24. 2nd Shift Brewing (NR)
25. Russian River Brewing Co (20)
26. New Glarus Brewing Co (32)
27. Allagash Brewing Co (36)
28. Funk Factory Geuzeria (42)
29. Alpine Beer Co (7)
30. Surly Brewing Co (29)
31. Central Waters Brewing Co (19)
32. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (28)
33. Evil Twin Brewing (27)
34. Wicked Weed Brewing (38) 
35. Hair of the Dog Brewing Co (22)
36. The Alchemist (NR)
37. Modern Times Beer (NR)
38. Forest & Main (NR)
39. Midnight Sun Brewing Co (30)
40. Off Color Brewing (NR)
41. Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel (24)
42. AleSmith Brewing Co (26)
43. FiftyFifty Brewing Co (39)
44. Fremont Brewing Company (NR)
45. Omnipollo (NR)
46. Terrapin Beer Company (NR)
47. Stone Brewing Co (21)
48. Avery Brewing Co (37)
49. Founders Brewing Co (47)
50. Mikkeller (41)

Others receiving votes:  Olde Hickory Brewery, Al's of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co, De Struise Brouwers, Cascade Brewing, Anchorage Brewing Company, Great Divide Brewing Company, Maine Beer Co, Lawson's Finest Liquids, Prairie Artisan Ales, Deschutes Brewery and Funky Buddha Brewery

Dropped out:  Bell's Brewery (23), Kuhnhenn Brewing Co (25), Bullfrog Brewery (33), Cascade Brewing (34), Prairie Artisan Ales (35), Dark Horse Brewing Co (35), Destihl Brewery (43), Upland Brewing Co (47), Six Point Brewery (48), Olde Hickory Brewery (49), Maine Beer Co (50)

-A new #1 with Side Project, which is very well deserved
-After drinking across more of their portfolio, de Garde was well deserving of the huge jump with great diversity
-Westbrook probably made the overall biggest jump.  Great diversity with some home run beers
-Toppling Goliath fell hard after 2 years at number 1.  This brewery has really lost it's identity over the past 18 months
-Trillium was another big jumper just crushing it with their hoppy portfolio
-There are 4 new entries on the list in the 18-25 range.  All very deserving and likely to continue to move up the list
-Crooked Stave dipped big time, I think their quality has taken a hit in the past 12 months
-Hard to argue if Alpine should even be on the list with their merger with Green Flash. They are living historically and will likely fall off next year
-Another set of new breweries to the list in the upper 30s, mostly fanboy breweries for me
-Founders is hanging on for dear life with a couple of really nice releases this year in their backstage series
-For the "Other receiving votes" section, I had a really hard time with the 45-50 range, may bump the list up to 100 breweries next year
-Bells has been completely stagnant for years now, hard to tell how far they would fall in a list of 100

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Best Beers of 2015!

My list of best beers poured into my mouth during 2015:

1. Side Project Pulling Nails Blend 2 – My favorite series from my favorite brewery
2. De Garde The Broken Truck – My breakout brewery of 2015, beyond the Bu’s
3. De Garde Nectarine Premier – Juice in a glass
4. De Garde The Anniversary – The end of the De Garde run, almost as good as Broken Truck
5. Side Project Le Saisonnier – So much wine barrel greatness from Side Project
6. 18th Street Bitch's Bank – Some of my favorite stouts come from this brewery
7. Casey Oak Theory – Oaky and Gueuze-like
8. 4 Hands Madagascar – This beer is deserving of the hype and easier to obtain.  A GTMW Standout
9. Olde Hickory Omega Point – Blurring the lines between barleywine and old ale equals perfection
10. Side Project Frambois du Fermier – By far my favorite of this series
11. Westbrook AB Siberian Black Panther – Apple brandy barrel complemented this beer perfectly
12. Drie Fonteinen Armand’4 Oude Gueuze Herfst – This was my favorite of the 4 seasons
13. Drie Fonteinen Armand’4 Oude Gueuze Winter – The most unique of the bunch
14. Toppling Goliath Hopsmack! – My first hoppy beer on the list and took out some big competition for the best beer in the DIPA category at Great Taste of Cottage Grove
15. BottleLogic Fundamental Observation – Vanilla heaven
16. Hill Farmstead Le Sarassin – I am overly critical of this brewery.  Went head to head with Stenciled Pages and beat it out
17. SARA Stenciled Pages – Nuanced and beautiful, everything I am looking for in a saison
18. Tired Hands Parageusia 1 – Oaky, white wine, gueuze like.  The best of the series
19. New Glarus R&D Vintage – Got in line over and over again at GTMW to drink this beer.  One of the best American Gueuzes
20. Tired Hands Parageusia 3 – Super funky, one of the most odd sours I have ever had, loved every second of it
21. Westbrook Barrel Aged Mexican Cake – I had the bourbon and double barrel versions both this year.  The barrel adds much needed body
22. Perennial/Side Project ProCATStination – Two of my favorite breweries combined to make a perfectly balanced Saison
23. Drie Fonteinen Framboos – Hype may have hurt this one a bit, jammy goodness
24. Forest & Main Hapi – I love everything from this brewery and this dry hopped, barrel aged saison is a culmination of their greatness
25. Allagash Farm to Face – Peach heaven in a bottle