Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017 Beers of the Year - Part One

We're already nearly a week into 2018 - I have successfully wrote the correct year in my daily paperwork each day so far, knock on wood - so it must be time to celebrate all the great beers I have enjoyed in the past year.

There were a tonne of great beers in my glass in 2017 (not at the same time - there would be unnecessary spillage) and many of those brews were new to me, reflecting the fact there are so many new breweries popping up each week in this great province.

And that's a really, really good thing.

So let's get started, shall we?

I'm going to break this up into two parts. I'll deal with most of the categories in part one and I hope to finish with the IPAs and all their pals in the second part, along with the Beer/Brewery of the Year and other highly prized trophies.

As always, the focus is on Ontario-made beers but this little subjective competition is open to any brewery anywhere, because I believe Ontario brewers can compete with anyone.

Sours and their allies; salty beers and beers with cucumbers; and beers with long (but cool) names


This is the category that shook up the craft beer world in 2017 and I'm quite confident dry-hopped sours will continue to be a big thing in 2018. There were so many fantastic sours, starting with the Jelly King line from Bellwoods. I picked out Plum and Strawberry Rhubarb as my favourites from Bellwoods but the Toronto brewery had plenty of competition. Other finalists include Paradise Lost-Mango from Blood Brothers, Papaya Sour and Passionfruit Sour from Rouge River, and Bang Bang from Left Field.
Ceres from Nickel Brook

The two that stood out from the pack for me were Paradise Lost-Mango and Passionfruit Sour, with the winner coming from Toronto's west end: Paradise Lost-Mango (Blood Brothers).

Sour IPA - Skull Pucker (5 Paddles)

Sour IIPA - Tang Town (Bellwoods)

Gose (and beers with cucumber) - Ceres (Nickel Brook), Prophets & Nomads (Collective Arts)

Salty Pale Ale - Psidiumism (Bellwoods/Four Winds)

Longest name in beer - Jump the Pumpkin Shark Kettle Soured Pumpkin Pie Double Dry-Hopped Milkshake IPA (5 Paddles)

Saisons, Pilsners, ESBs, Lagers, Kolsch, English Milds, Fruit-infused beer and Homebrew

Saison - La Saison d'ete (Little Beasts), Anniversary #4 (Left Field), White Picket Fence (Bellwoods). The winner in this category is the best Saison I have ever enjoyed.
La Saison d'ete (Little Beasts)

Pilsner - Dayslayer (Stone/Maine), West Coast Pilsner (Burdock). The first international winner. An outstanding beer.

ESB - Dam Buster (Silversmith)

Lager - India Pale Lager (Camerons)

Kolsch - Absent Landlord (Cowbell)

English Mild - Alternative Facts (Great Lakes) A beer brewed in collaboration with a few beer writers and other media folk, including my pal Robert, aka Drunk Polkeroo.

Fruit-infused beer - Fruit Helmet - Guava, Passion fruit, Strawberry (Bellwoods/Evil Twin)

Homebrew - Granny Teapots, Stress Buster (Linda & John) Both were impressive but the American Pale Ale was super delicious.

The Belgians and their friends

Belgian IPA - Audrey Hopburn (Great Lakes)

Belgian IIPA - Etobichoker (Great Lakes)

Belgian Session Ale - Sit and Stay (Yellow Dog)

Belgian Ale - Orval

White IPA - Rabbit of Caerbannog (Indie Ale House). One of my favourite beers this year.

Wheat IPA (American Yeast) - Square Wheels (Town)

White Pale Ale - Miami Weiss (Great Lakes)

Hefeweizen - White Rabbit (Russell)

Abbey Dubbel - Pere Jacques (Goose Island), Chimay - Red

Tripel - Chimay Triple - White, Duvel Tripel Hop 2016

Quad - 30th Anniversary Barrel-Aged Belgian Style Quad (Great Lakes). So complex and so good.

Stouts, Porters, Brown Ales and others from the dark side

Imperial Stout

So many excellent Imperial Stouts to choose from. My finalists are Dark Lord - 2011 (Three Floyds), Bring Out Your Dead (Bellwoods), Breakfast Stout (Founders), Singularity (Driftwood), Midnight Paddler (5 Paddles) and Hearts Collide Bourbon Barrel-Aged (Rainhard). The winner brings the international count to two: Dark Lord - 2011 (Three Floyds). This was enjoyed at a beer sharing evening in Bowmanville (along with the 2016 version) in the spring. This six year-old beer brought an intoxicating aroma of plums, figs and other demonic dark fruits. Delicious, it was.

Dark Lord (Three Floyds)

Milk Stout/Coffee Stout - Mystery Beer A (Nickel Brook), Coffee Oatmeal Stout (Rorschach), Skinny Dipping (Sawdust City). Please bring this beer into the regular rotation. And give it a name!

Porter - Harry Porter and the Complicated Coffee Order (Great Lakes)

Brown Ale - Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale (Left Field)

Brown IPA - Back Roads Brown IPA (Bobcaygeon)

Black IPA - Black Knight (Halo), Black IPA (Collective Arts), Apocalypse Later (Great Lakes). It seems difficult to dethrone this GLB brew. Always world class.

Part two tomorrow.


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