Twenty Best Beers

I want to report out on the 2020 best beers according to Zymurgy magazine. Not familiar with Zymurgy? Zymurgy is the publication of the American Homebrewers Association. The 20 best beers are the opinions of American Hombrewers Association, AHA, members and may not reflect the opinions of drinkers of swill. Swill may be a harsh term but there really is a flavor, aroma, mouthfeel and quality difference for the beers in this list.

I am pleased to report that a handful of my go to beers, including 3 at the top of my list are in the top twenty.

Number 1…. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, from Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, MI. I was introduced to this beer on one of my many work trips to North Dakota and it is now being distributed in Texas…..yes, it is in my fridge. Two Hearted is brewed year round.

Number 2….. Pliny the Elder, from Russian River Brewing Co. It is a double IPA coming in at 8% but….. drinks very smooth with an incredible mix of aromas and broad but smooth bitterness. I have only been able to have this beer on three occasions and can probably give you date, time and location when I was able to enjoy this beer! It really is that good. Drawback, very hard to find……gotta know somebody! Available year round but…..only in limited quantities.

Number 3…… Pale Ale by Sierra Nevada. This was probably my first exposure to real beer nudging me away from my usual swill….the beer came out in 1980, it probably was late 1980’s before I was treated to the wonderful, bottle conditioned ale featuring, new at the time, Cascade hops. Confession, I did experiment with non swill in the late 70’s, Anchor Steam beer after it was reintroduced in 1971.

Number 4……..Heady Topper by the Alchemist in Stowe, VT. This beer has not blessed my lips, but…….I am on the hunt now. This is a double IPA and according to the recommendation printed on the can…..it is best consumed from the can. According to the review in Zymurgy that is to “allow your senses to enjoy the maximum hop experience.”

Number 5……. Hopslam Ale from Bell’s Brewery….. my go to Double IPA. It is best consumed fresh……..but I have hoarded it far into the year, hidden away from the local beer gnomes that raid my stash. Very high on my list. Mark your calendar, this beer is distributed in January and February……then the dearth sets in. Dearth, a beekeepers term when nectar is not available for the bees and also appropriate for this nectar of the gods hoppy beer. At 8% it will help make you toasty….nice!

Number 6 …….. Zombie Dust by Three Floyd’s Brewing Company, Munster, IN. Three Floyd’s describes it as “intensely hopped”. That description places it on my list of beers to hunt down. The Zymurgy review calls it “Insanely drinkable”….. sounds like a gotta have beer. Only 6.2%…..yum.

Number T 7……. Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, by Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, MO. Very nice beer coming in at 8% …..very good hoppy aroma and and hop flavors. I have been able to track this one down, although not in my top list I would never turn it down.

Number 7 T……. Kentucky Breakfast Stout, barrel aged, by Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI. It is a strong Imperial Stout that I find Rivals my favorite Imperial Stout, the barrel aged Parabola from Firestone Walker. It is 12.3 % and best shared in 4-5 ounce glasses with good friends. Complex flavors and aromas and really warms going down. Patting myself on the back, my home brewed Imperial Stout, also aged on toasted and bourbon soaked oak, is on par with this beer.

Number 9………Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR. This is a beer that almost always graces my fridge. Two of favorite hops are used for this beer, Citra and Mosaic, both during the boil and during fermentation. It is a very fresh and clean drinking beer.

Number 10…….Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg, CA. I have had an opportunity to sample this beer and it is treat for the palate with wide variety of flavors and complex set of pleasant aromas. At 9% ABV it will warm you up nicely.

The remainder of the top twenty; Treehouse Julius, sounds delicious, Founders All Day IPA …..a go to session ale loved by me and my beer drinking partner, Focal Banger by Alchemist….I know nothing of this beer but need to hunt it down, Jai Lai by Cigar City….I have had it a couple of times and it is a very pleasant beer, Celebration Ale by Sierra Nevada…..damn good beer, I really like it! Pseudo Sue by Toppling Goliath, the reviewers were very complimentary of this beer – yep another one to chase down, White by Allagash Brewing, apparently a real nice example of the classic Wit Bier style, Sip of Sunshine by Lawson’s Finest Liquids, this is a NEIPA this is an 8% beer, Odell IPA, , been there, done that beer many times and bought the shirt, the Odell IPA knocked my socks off the first time I tried it! Very yummy! Hazy Little Thing by Sierra Nevada Brewing……I love this beer, great aromas and flavors…yum

On hand as of yesterday. My beer order was off a little as I was not specific enough. I am still on my walker due to hip replacement. The Double Bell’s Two Hearted is a nice sub as is the Odell Mountain Standard IPA!
A look into my patio beer fridge. Home brews in bottle include Mosaic SMaSH IPA, Honey Blonde with my Honey and a real nice Wit Bier for my wife.
Don’t believe the tap handles….. I have my Juicy/Hazy IPA on one, my West Coast IPA on another and Scrimshaw Pils on another. Waiting to brew again for the number 4 tap.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

SMaSH IPA – Wait is Over

Bottled on the 18th of February so I have waited the requisite 10 days before I popped the top on the first bottle….couldn’t wait any longer. One of the bottles was only 3/4 filled so it became the sacrificial lamb.

Partially filled a “Back Pew” pint glass. Enjoyed my taste test while watching a very strange X-Files episode!

Good color – actually seems to be a bit more amber than on bottling day. Pretty well carbonated and very nicely hopped. I was a bit spoiled with the Hopslam I recently found but….. this Homebrew, even though not a double IPA, has top notch hop flavors and aromas…….thank you “dry hopping”. I will definitely use fresh hops again!

I may let it go a few more days to condition a little further but it is very, very drinkable right now!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Ahhhhh – Sunday in Williston

I do spend a lot of time in North Dakota. I have bills to pay, beers to drink and an almost twenty year old still attending college. Don’t get me wrong, I work because I want to and the work I do is very satisfying! 

The only problem with work other than the obvious, missing my partner and wife, is that it gets in the way of my hobbies, Home brewing is one of several at the top of my list. Beekeeping is relatively new but It gives me a buzz! Ok bad joke! Organic gardening, wood turning, less fishing than it should be and my bicycle is craving more miles. 

I am enjoying a Hopslam IPA as I ponder these important matters. Wow, Bell’s Brewery has put out a really great beer. This is one of the top 10% of my top 117 beers! Don’t ask me to list them, just trust me – the check is in the mail, etc – etc! 

Probably less beer drinking this trip and more time in the gym. My annual physical is in late April. The doctor got on me about my winter coat last year and I wore it all summer and may have added to it this winter. There is a slight temptation to switch to Coors Light! Nah- moderation Bishop, moderation! 

Williston does have a great workout facility so, unpack bags and get my sorry butt in gear. 





A few of my drinking buddies from my January trip – not real sociable but -5 degrees F  is no problem for them. Taken at Teddy Roosevelt National Park on February 1 with my Nikon D600 and my Nikon 80-200 2.8 lens. 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

#hopslam