For my annual “Best of” list, I have decided to change it up (yes, again). For 2018, I am breaking my list into five style categories with two picks apiece. I felt that I should accept that certain styles were the rage this year and highlight the beers from each category that I felt exemplified and amplified that style.
Those categories are Brut, Hazy, Cocktail, Barrel-Aged, and other IPA. (If you hadn’t noticed IPA was kind of a big deal again this year). I was on-the-fence with Milkshake IPAs, but didn’t sample enough throughout the year that were significantly better than the beers I chose from the above groups. Instead of adding my personal preference tasting notes, I will add short thoughts on each beer instead.
L.A. Ale Works LA Phil – Great label plus one of the most unique and most L.A. collaborations I’ve seen.
Bootlegger’s Negative Plato – I was at the point of writing this style off until I had this beer.
Brouwerij West Thanks for 2 – Hands down, best can label design anywhere plus that Mecca Grade Malt.
Arrow Lodge Conditions – Amy Heller is making some great beers and will be mentioned more in 2019.
Firestone Walker Old Man Hattan – I had this beer and the anniversary side-by-side and this one was a clear winner.
Cellador A Buried Lover – Long list of ingredients for this beer cocktail and it worked spectacularly.
Smog City Quercus Circus – Citra Dry Hopped – The hops popped on this beer more than most IPAs.
New Belgium Oakspire – Take a simple ale and age it correctly. New Belgium works wonders with wood.
Eagle Rock # 3056 Pale Ale – version 5 – I lost track of the versions, but returned in time to find this bright bitter gem.
El Segundo and Topa Topa Hats Off IPA – Unfortunately, we need charity beers for all the fires. But this was the best beer from the hop lovers at ESBC.
Honorable Mention (no style category restrictions)
RT Rogers The Woodchoppers IPA, Stone Tropic of Thunder IPL, L.A. Ale Works Not a Pineapple Beer, Boomtown District Haze and Mumford Legend Has It IPL
Recently swirly decorated cans from Fair State Brewing Cooperative in Minneapolis landed in Los Angeles, and I picked up a pair of the 16-ouncers to see which of two drastically different styles that I liked better.
The Du Rounde Saison was dry hopped with Centennial and poured a lovely straw color. This tasted classically style, almost like the sound alike Dupont. There were some strong Belgian esters that even made the hops play second fiddle.
Speaking of hops, I had the Fair State eponymous IPA and was greeted with a fruity aroma and pine. The bitterness was medium to medium low making for a near West Coast / near SIPA beer. Though I enjoyed it, the Saison was the much more confident beer and the one that I would suggest looking for.
When it comes to New Year’s Eve, you can now take your pick from Belgian in Sherman Oaks as Bluebird Brasserie will throw a VIP ticketed bash that includes a crowler or you can be British for the evening and head to the Stalking Horse on Pico and get a keepsake NYE pint glass. If you want to really ring in the New Year, you can go full on Phantom of the Opera masquerade and have a ball at Broxton in Westwood.
Wherever you end up for New Year’s Eve (be it an Artisanal Brewers Collective location or elsewhere), please be safe out there and have someone else drive for you so you can fully enjoy yourself.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.