Each year we either bid fond farewell to the previous 12 months or kick them to the curb. 2016 will probably inspire more people to do the latter.
Despite the election, losing Bowie and Prince, and the enduring drought, there has been no shortage of great craft beer. Here is my highly subjective list of the best beers that I drank. I have selected five beers from Los Angeles and five from outside the Southland.
Despite being an elder statesman on the L.A. scene, Eagle Rock is not sitting on that reputation. They started releasing more and more cans this year, instituted a brewery only series and collaborated with a brewery in Staten Island for this excellent IPA.
Mumford Brewing – Unpresidential IPA
Call Mumford prescient with this beer name, the second of three canned beers on the L.A. portion of the list. Peter Mumford and his team are truly finding a footing with both NE and SoCal IPAs.
Highland Park Brewery – Good Green IPA
At this point, just go ahead and reserve a spot in the 2017 Best of for Highland Park. If only for the fact that you can probably get your hands on a four-pack without waiting overnight. Good Green is practically bursting with flavor, especially when fresh.
Homage Brewing – Reckoner Brett IPA
This Pomona brewery has some street cred in the beer world despite the fact that it is tucked away in Pomona. This Brett IPA somehow manages to be farmhouse-y while still retaining a fruit forward bitterness.
Ohana Brewing – Honeydew Sencha IPA
Yes, this whole list is IPA, but this Ohana offering will re-orient your palate off of the fruit and hazy IPAs dominating the market. This is light and tannic and fun. Like the Reckoner, it doesn’t sacrifice the hops to do it. Let’s hope the tea experiments continue for Ohana.
pFriem Family Brewers – Mosaic Single Hop Pale
I am a sucker for a Single Hop beer so I brought this bottle home from a trip to Portland. After one sip, I was kicking myself for not bringing more than one bottle home.
Half Acre Beer Company – Pony Pilsner aged in gin barrels
This was my favorite beer at this year’s edition of the Firestone Walker Invitational. That is one hell of a competition because every beer there is world class. It is all the more interesting because I am not the hugest fan of Half Acre’s regular Pony Pilsner.
The Rare Barrel – Ensorcelled
I have tasted three or four Rare Barrel beers now and quite frankly, any one of them could be on this list. Or all of them. This is tart without being puckery, and the pairing of dark sour with raspberries is inspired.
Founders Brewing – PC Pils
Yes, a pils. From a can. Brewed by a larger brewery. But this is one heck of a crisp and biting beer that has a nod to hops, but stays firmly in style and delivers for those endless hot days here in Los Angeles.
Chapman Crafted Beer – Airborne Ranger DIPA
We are lucky to have Brian Thorson brewing again after his stint at Haven. His new home in Orange County means we don’t see a lot of his kegs up north, but this beer caught my tastebuds on a visit to the Glendale Tap and did not let go. A double that was strong, but didn’t try to bowl you over.
Beachwood Blendery – Multi Barrel Experiment Old Fashioned
The Blendery has been very careful with Eugene this year, but my favorite from multiple visits to Long Beach is their blended spin on an Old Fashioned. Quite delightful. I wanted to drink it by a roaring fire.
Firestone Walker – Luponic Distortion Series
This rotating IPA series is up to 004 now and with each one I try to tease out what is different from 001 to 004 and all I can think of is that all four are really great sessionable hoppy beers.
Stone Brewing Co. – XS IPA
Take a Stone IPA and age in gin barrels and Rye whiskey barrels and it comes out super strong and filled with new flavors with each sip. Spice just abounds in this special release.
I want to end this post with a huge THANK YOU to all of the brewers and breweries in Los Angeles and around the country for making drawing up this list, harder and harder each year.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.