5. French Aramis – Hop Kitchen by New Belgium Brewing special release may or may not return. In a year of over-the-top IPA’s, this beer showed off a hop new to me.
4. Belgian Style Pale by Hopworks Urban Brewery special release may or may not return. Once I broke through the blue wax sealing this bottle, the aroma told me it was going to be great.
3. Tipopils by Birrificio Italiano very limited and not seen in LA. Clean and crisp and one of the most complex pils that I have encountered.
2. Cuvee 2013 Dry Hopped by Saison Dupont special release that changes each year. Just a big bold saison that tap danced on my taste buds.
1. Blond IPA by pFriem Beer available in Hood River and Portland. I could have filled out this list with the pFriem taster tray. Really interesting beers from this Riverside brewery.
The Beer of the Week is a relative of the beer at #2, it is Avec les Bons Voeux from Brasserie Dupont in Belgium. It is the standard bearer for beer to open on New Years Eve and it truly lives up to the English translation of “with best wishes”. My capsule review when I first tasted it in 2011 still stands today, Avec pours a dusky yellow, orange. Barnyard funky aroma that leads into a pungent first note then some fruit notes follow. Each sip is effervescent and so easy to drink.
And you still have a chance to find a best beer of 2013, and it is your Homework this week. Venture to Torrance and Smog City on the 28th because starting at noon is the inaugural Smog City Brewing Battle of the Cask!!
According to the brewery, “each member of our Smog City crew has designed their own cask recipe, yes, even Laurie and we need your help to determine a winner! All of the five different casks will be made using Bloody Knuckle, a Robust Porter, as the base beer. Cask Line-Up:
*Fruit and Maple Cask: Contains Dried Orange Cranberries and Maple Syrup
*Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cask: Contains Dried PB, Chocolate Powder and Cocoa Nibs
*Mint Chocolate Cask: Contains Chocolate Powder, Cocoa Nibs, Mint Oil and Vanilla Beans
*Toasted Coconut Cask: Contains Toasted Coconut and Vanilla Beans
*Raspberry chocolate sticks porter: Contains Raspberry Purée, Freeze dried raspberries. Coco powder, Cocoa nibs, Vanilla beans
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.