Last year, when I was compiling my 10 Best California Beers of 2014 list, Selah from Monkish Brewing was the equivalent of the Golden State Warriors. Just like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on the basketball court, Selah’s aroma, color and flavor in the glass were exhilarating and impossible to beat.
This year though, parity has reigned. I find myself flip-flopping between a host of really great beers. Rooting for one brewing team’s prowess and then another.
Here are the Brew & You – Best of 2015..starting with five hometown L.A. area beers.
Split Infinitive from Monkish Brewing keeps the Torrance brewery on the year-end list. A tight balancing act of juicy hops such as Nelson, Galaxy, Amarillo and restrained Belgian notes made for a refreshing beer.
Rye Like an Eagle from Beachwood Brewing is a bold, big, barrel-aged beer that has layers of complexity and doesn’t just hit you over the head with spirit essence.
All Your Oats Holiday Double IPA from Eagle Rock Brewery blew me away and it had to because I still miss Jubilee, their past holiday beer. This DIPA is light and orange juice tinged and has all those hops, but leaves your palate intact.
Fill Pils from Highland Park Brewery took my attention away from a beer book to marvel at how well Bob Kunz made this new Eastside pilsner. He is known for his wilder creations, but he made this simple beer very well.
Amburana Imperial Porter from Three Weavers utilized Brazilian wood to make a beer that tasted like it was swirled with a cinnamon stick then aged on strong barrels for a gorgeous woody taste.
From outside Los Angeles, this starting five of beers blew me away…
Kihei Kolsch from Maui Brewing is one of three canned offerings. This beer tasted so tropical, but also didn’t obliterate the underlying style to make its Hawaiian point.
Little Green Session Saison from Flat Tail Brewing is from Corvallis, the home of the Oregon State University. This canned hoppy saison shows off a delicate, dare I say, Selah-ish flavor profile. I always seem to buy a can when I see it on the shelf.
Toaster Pastry from 21st Amendment Brewery is the last canned offering and no, I did not pair it with a pop tart. It is a really boldly hopped IRA (India Red Ale) that has the firm and slightly sweet malt backbone to match the bitterness.
Dinkus from Bagby Beer Co. saved me from road rage of 405 freeway driving and was one of many beers on that day’s taster tray that I could have added to this list. Bagby has a sterling reputation and Dinkus proved that it is earned.
Mosey IPA from Pizza Port Solana Beach was one of those beers that matched the pizza and the atmosphere of this chain’s small outpost. The beer was boisterous and bright without falling into a muddle that befalls many IPAs.
Have a very and merry Christmas and let me know what beers topped your list for the year. [I may need to sneak them in before the year is out!]
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.