Another Year, a Look Back at the Best

With the end of the year approaching, it’s time to look back at the best beers of the year. I never thought this list would get any more difficult than 2014’s, but with the introduction to new members of my beer family, came a lot of new incredible beers.  Lets be clear, this list is not of the top beers that were released in 2015, it’s the top beers I’ve had the pleasure of trying this year. While I have attempted to rank them, they are all pretty much on the same level of perfection. I tried to trim my top 20 to 10, but there was too much good beers that had to be included. Now, for the top fifteen:

  1. Tree House Good Morning: Yes I know, it’s the top beer currently on BA, so I’m not going out on a limb here. I’ve had the pleasure of trying this beer a few times, either through friends, the excellent staff at the brewery, or from waiting hours in line (and it was worth it). The first two batches of this beer were just straight incredible. After searching for something to compete with TG’s Morning Delight, I finally found a beer that stood toe-to-toe with MD. I will say this, the final batch I had in November was slightly different, and didn’t have the same maple flavor present in the previous batches. However, at the end of the day I am splitting hairs, as it was incredible nonetheless and would still hold it’s position in this group. Congrats to Nate, Dean and the whole Tree House crew who have worked incredibly hard to show that they truly give a shit about their customers and take pride in what they do.
  2. Three Floyd’s Vanilla Bean Dark Lord: This had been a big want of mine for a long time and I really never thought I would get the chance to try, if it were not for some nice beer friends coming through. This beer took vanilla adjunct stouts to a whole other level, and set a standard that will be hard to touch.
  3. Funk Factory 43N 89W: Now to mix things up a bit. I first tried Funk Factory when my friend Casey brought Scarlett Letter to a share a few years back, saying that it was beer from his buddy back in Wisconsin, and he wanted to know what I thought. After one sip, I had to start begging Casey to bring all his Funk Factory beers for shares. This beer pays homage to Cantillon’s 50N4E, however I dare say is on a level of it’s own, above it’s predecessor. I call myself more of a stout person, but not to appreciate the complexity of what Levi Funk has done here would be a disservice. While this beer is nearly impossible to get now, people should look for Levi’s upcoming beers because I’m sure there will be at least one that is included on this list next year.
  4. Perennial Barrel-aged Abraxas: As with #2 on this list, another big want that was aided by a friend getting lucky on the raffle this year. This beer when head to head with DB Huna when I opened it and was a clear winner with an additional level of complexity.
  5. Hill Farmstead Civil Disobedience 11: This beer came to me in a mostly sour-only share. Alongside beers like Fruit Punch 2, Fou, Grrrz Aricot, and many more, this beer stood out well above the rest, as HF’s most complex CD beer I’ve had. As a beer that sat in barrel that once held Mimosa, Juicy, and E. I can see why.
  6. Tree House Green: Green was the first beer from Treehouse I purchased myself, on my drive to EBF this year. Out of curiosity (no pun intended), I had to try it immediately when I arrived at my hotel, and it didn’t disappoint. Drinking any Treehouse beer is like taking a bite into fresh fruit, however Green offers additional layers of complexity and flavors including a balanced hop bite on the back-end.
  7. Hill Farmstead Society and Solitude 4: This beer along with #6  on this list have taken hoppy beers to another level for me. While both incredible, they are quite different.  Double Citra is an incredible beer on its own, and the thought of a love child between D.C. and Double Galaxy can only mean good things for all. HF creates beers that have such complexity, but are yet delicate and approachable to any beer drinker. What I’ve noticed time and time again about hoppy from HF that I can’t say about another brewery is that people who don’t like hoppy beers enjoy HF hops. There is never that overpowering bitterness that turns some off to the style.
  8. New Glarus Very Sour Blackberry: This was another big want of mine, however the amount it would take to obtain for such a small bottle always turned me off, therefore I was lucky when a friends brought this beer for a share. Hoping that this is re-released by NG sometime soon (and that I don’t have to break the bank to track it down)
  9. Casey The Cut: Balaton Cherry: Casey is a brewery that I have just become familiar with this year, and perfect timing. So far I have had a few of the Cut beers, but this one was really a level above the rest. If you can’t track down one of these, look for their Fruit Stand series, they are a little easier to find, and they are still incredible.
  10. South Hampton Black Raspberry Lambic: This beer is really something special, unlike any other beer I’ve had with a earthy wine-like character. It’s a shame South Hampton doesn’t release this beer anymore.
  11. Kane A Night to End all Dawns Vanilla: Straight marshmallows, a big improvement on the previous vintage
  12. Good People Brewing El Gordo: This is in the top 5 for me of best non-BA stouts ever.
  13. Civil Disobedience 15: A Shaun Hill masterpiece with mangoes….yup
  14. Funk Factory Door Kriek: If I went 20 deep for the year, we would have to add Framrood and Cassis. Haven’t even tried Frampaars yet and from what I’ve been told, that might be the best of the bunch.
  15. Treehouse Double Shot Sumatra: Best coffee stout out there, hands down.

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