2012 Wrap-Up: Best Beers

It's Christmas morning (while I write this, New Years Eve when you read it), the fiancee is baking cookies, so many cookies. I have my headphones on pumping Black Light Burns (my number 1 album, in case you missed it!), so I can drown out the sound of Andy Cohen's "Watch What Happens: Live" playing in the background. Sandra Bernhardt is on and I just...can't. By the time you read this, Christmas will be over, wrapping paper will have been rolled into balls and thrown at those nearest you, and you probably ate till you're blind. I hope you all had a great Christmas or whatever it is you celebrate.

This is the main event, the Top 10 beers I've consumed during the 2012 calendar year. It doesn't necessarily have to be a beer that came out in 2012, otherwise I would have two completely different lists. I'm doing this list with a lot of help from my spotty memory, Untappd, and my photo library.

It took me a few days to compose this list. A lot of them, upon first sip warranted a  "Holy shit!!" A lot of them required really paying attention to what I was drinking and studying the different things going on. Some of them are just around damned good. 

Starting from 10, here is the list:


I picked this up on my Philly day trip. I didn't review it. From Untappd: "The nose is amazing! Coffee and vanilla. A beautiful and thick head, full-bodied and boozy. Damn this is good. Be jealous."


And the bottle art is to die for



Mark makes some of Connecticut's best beer, I like to think of him as a friend of mine, and he has been a monumental help in my blogging career. This beer is a formidable one, indeed. From my Relic Brewing post"A citrus IPA with 8 different hops! This got me all kinds of excited. Now, you don't normally see the term "Citrus IPA" too often. You'll see "citrus" used in a description, sure. But this was way, way different. This was (in my head) some strange hybrid of a really good White Ale and IPA."

I love his labels. They're very unique! (Source)



As far as stouts go, this is delicious, smooth and tasty, with a slight alcohol haze. This beer took that, and made it it's bitch.  The nose is all dessert, it smells exactly like the name. The taste is burnt vanilla and yummyness. This is the epitome of a perfect dessert beer. I loved every sip, and luckily enough, so did my fiance. I bet this is delicious over ice cream. I did not review this.

(Source)

7) New England Brewing Company "668 Neighbor of the Beast" 
(Belgian Strong Pale Ale)

I did not review this beer. It looked and smelled light, fruity, and delicious. It drank strong. Real strong. No wonder I could only get it in a 4-Pack. Alas, my other searches for it have proved to be let downs. This was favorite beer of the summer!

(Source)

6) The Bruery "Fruet" 
(Old Ale)

This was absolutely my favorite beer during my going away party at Relic Brewing. It is only the second beer from The Bruery that I have ever had. It stole my heart, and my sobriety (I kept going back from more). A barrel aged bottle of goodness, at nearly 16%. It was an intense and complex beer. I wish to Buddha I could get my hands on another bottle. I'm looking forward to the 2013 Anniversary bottle! 

Elegant as F-Word(Source)


5) Sixpoint "Bengali Tiger" 
(American IPA)

All I can really say, because I have a post coming about this beer, is that it is one of the best IPA's I've ever had. And as a brewery in general, Sixpoint is amazing. I have a hell of a story involving them and their kindness documented in this post.


Next time you see this picture, you have to pretend it's new!


4) The Bruery "Otiose" 
(American Wild Ale)

Two Bruery beers in one post?!

When I started this blog, one of the greatest things happened to me...I got blogger mail. It was full of beers I had never had. And beers I will most definitely not ever have again. This beer floored me. Prior to this, the only other sour/wild ale I had had was Olde Burnsides Highland Wild Ale, and it was a whole new experience. The Bruery doesn't seem to do anything along conventional lines, which makes me happy. As we speak, I have a bottle of Tart of Darkness waiting for the perfect moment to be opened. I couldn't even bring myself to open it on 12/21/12. Not even the end of the world was enough to make me want to open it.Their beers are that good Otiose was an oak-y kind of sour. It was different and exciting and I've been on the look-out for another bottle since!






3 Russian River "Supplication" 
(American Wild Ale)

Another bottle from bloggermail! I split it with my Aunt, who was amazed that this was a beer. Because of this beer, it has lead me on expeditions to find more sours. I have had much success in the form of other people bringing their bottles of sours to my going away party, but little in the sense of stores carrying them. That front is starting to change though...Anyway. this beer is top notch, world class, amazing.


I almost didn't want to post this picture. Ugh, freakin' amateur hour.


2) Ballast Point Brewing "Sculpin IPA"
(American IPA)

One of the first beers I pursued with the absolute purpose of reviewing, you can read about it in one of my first posts. From the entry: "Anyway, as it hit my tongue I thought "I paid $6 a pint, for THIS?" It was a sweet, bubble-gummy taste, big whoop. Before I could finish my thought there was a HOPS EXPLOSION! In the span of about half a second that beer blew my friggin mind."

I have had hundreds of IPAs. And a lot of them came after I had Sculpin. This beer has become the bar of which I set my levels of expectations for IPAs


My own photo of this is awful. Not even close to almost being acceptable. (Source)

And my number one beer for 2012 is.............

1) Bells Expedition Stout (2011)
(Russian Imperial Stout)

Every stout I've tried since this has been pretty much "This ain't no Expedition." I also received this bottle in blogger mail, and reviewed it! From the review: "There is a slight bite of bitterness at the back end. And the coffee jumps in at the last moment like "OH HEY, DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME!" this is almost the perfect stout. And while drinking, I wouldn't shut the F-Word up about it on my social networks! Wow. This beer almost brought tears to my eyes"

This beer was simply amazing.


Ta-DAAAAAAAAA




So, that kind of wraps up my best bottle and tap experiences from the year 2012. It was a hell of year. I  learned an incredible amount about beer this year, I expanded my palate ten-fold, I branched out and made new friends and acquaintances, met some amazing people, and drank some amazing beer. All because of beer. Beer brings people together. This blog has brought me nothing but good things in the short time I've had it. Here's to hoping 2013 will bring about more! And it will. I have a lot planned for the coming year, now that I'm settled into my new city (which as a city, has a LOT going on in terms of craft beer).

Thank you all for your ongoing support, you've made this all possible for me.


Happy New Year!


Love,

Hipster Brewfus

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2012 Wrap-Up: Best Albums

Happy Holidays, my politically correct readers!

2012 has been an amazing year for me. I started my blog, got engaged, moved to Maryland, interviewed with Flying Dog, and got a new house (which has what is keeping me inactive the last week or so)! I'm sure there are a ton of other things that fill in the cracks between those events, but those are what jumped out at me immediately.

Along with the countless delicious beers I've drank this year, I've also listened to a lot of new releases from some great bands. And in the spirit of cliche, top 10 lists, I thought I'd throw my useless lists into the hat and make my voice heard. It'll be a series of three posts, Best Albums, Best Beers, and Ultimate Let Downs. Alternatively  you can find more music related stuff from me, and a group of my cohorts on Chimpbot Radio on Twitter or Facebook.

Today, I will be focusing on the music, specifically my top 10 albums that came out this year. After reading, I'd love if you left YOUR list in the comment section! Music taste, much like beer, or any other kind of taste, is all relative.

So lets get to it!

10) Ministry - Relapse


I was really excited when i heard Uncle Al was making a comeback, but was also really anxious to see if it would just be more of the same thrash and anger he initially ended his run on. It is, and it isn't  Yeah, hes angry, but instead of focusing his anger on ONE individual, he's able to spread it out among a plethora of the problems we face in our country. And the music is fast, focused and intense.

Stand out track: Ghouldiggers

9) Marilyn Manson - Born Villain


You must think I'm some 16 year old, painted up like a goth, world hating teenager after seeing this entry. I'm not, I never was. But MM has always done right by me in terms of music. A constantly evolving artist. An extremely intelligent, well spoken individual. This album is a culmination of everything hes done, leaning heavily on Mechanical Animals, in my opinion. I thought it was a fantastic release, especially considering his last couple have left me a little bored more often than not.

Stand out track: Pistol Whipped

8) Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata


This is one band that keeps getting better with each album. Their first album captivated me with its extremely avant-garde, swing-meets-metal meets-opera styling  The second album took that ball, and continued to run with it, adding some middle-eastern flair to it. Now, the third album kind of blows me away. They took all of the first two albums, and added some Spanish/Latin flavor to it. I promise, you've never heard anything like this.

Stand out track: Of Kali Me Calibre

7) Soundgarden - King Animal


This is an album I have been waiting 15 years or so for. I remember being heart broken in the 8th grade when the news came of their split. Now, they're back, new album in town, and it is REALLY good. They picked up, from what my ear tells me, right where they left off, and it leaves me feeling nice and safe. My only issue, which is why this album ranks lower, is that some of it makes me believe they are leftover Chris Cornell solo tracks. With that said, this album is everything you could want from this legendary band.

Stand out track: Rowing

6) Deftones - Koi No Yokan


Deftones rarely disappoint me. I love that they've been around long enough, and I've been into them long enough, to watch them grow and evolve and become what they are now. And that is an experimental, atmospheric, beautiful, and aggressive band, fronted by one of my favorite vocalists. This album makes me forget that Saturday Night Wrists happened. This album is the perfect culmination of everything they have done post White Pony. I thought 2010's release Diamond Eyes was the epitome of the Deftones, and I couldn't be happier to be wrong. This album is fan-fucking-tastic.

Stand out track: Goon Squad

5) If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest



Relaxing, amazing, and ethereal music. If you're new to them, and the post rock genre, this is a perfect stepping stone. Out side of that, this album encapsulates everything I love about them, and the genre in general. It speaks for your music when you can convey emotions without uttering a single word. The music soars, it crashes, it rocks, it relaxes. It's just great music, from a great band.

Stand out track: When the Big Hand Buries the Twelve

We are halfway through the list! You still with me?? Here is something cute and funny to revitalize you:




4) Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...



Boasting one of the most absurdly long titles of any album I've seen since maybe her second album, Fiona returns after 7 years with a near flawless record. In contrast, this album stands out to me due to the more tortured (as in what you'd expect from her) sound compared to her last effort, Extraordinary Machine. She seemed to have just come out of nowhere with this album, and it has certainly wept the world by storm. She stands here showing us her self loathing, and incapacity to handle...much. She sounds like a lunatic at points, and that what I have come to expect. I love it.

Stand out track: Hot Knife


3) Santigold - Master of my Make Believe



Shes my guilty pleasure. Well, not really. She's pop music, I guess. But with heart, and talent. Santigold stole my heart when I first heard her a few years ago, and haven't really stopped listening since. I was so, so excited when I heard about a new album in the process, I checked almost daily for some kind of status update. When it finally did come out, I didn't like it. I was so let down. But I kept at it, and it grew on me. I soon started to realize this album for the genius that it is. Seeing her live solidified it all for me this summer. If this isn't on the top of more lists this year, I'd be super surprised.

Stand out track: Fame

2) El-P - Cancer for Cure



This album was well worth the wait, which seems to be the theme of 2012- albums I waited years for. The beats are insane, the topics are apocalyptic  the lyrics are at often times dystopian, and the album in general has an impending sense of doom, with a glimmer of hope. El-P made 2012 his bitch. This monstrous album paired with his killer Mike collaboration kind of reinforced why he's that best at what he does. El-P as a producer, was always top notch, as an MC though, he took some getting used to. He has an awkward flow on a lot of his tracks, like a slam poet or something of the sort. This time around though, he has mastered his flow. This album is perfect, in almost every way.

Stand out track: $ Vic/FTL (Me and You)

And now.... drum-roll please...

The moment you have been waiting for, and I waited 5 long years for, my number one record of 2012...

1) Black Light Burns - The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall




Remember Limp Bizkit? Remember how they weren't really good, but the guitarist was noticeably weird and incredibly talented? Well, he started a band of his very own, and they are leagues and fathoms different than LB. In 2007, they released their debut album, which still gets an almost daily spin from me, it really is that good. A year or so later they released a follow up b-sides and covers album. That was the last I heard from them until they popped up on the last Underworld soundtrack. And now, 5 years after their initial debut, they come back with this album. It has taken my breath away.

Wes Borland has created this weird landscape of music, and I couldn't be more in love with it. The videos are exceptionally surreal to watch (Here is the newest [NSFW]). There isn't one thing about this album I don't like. I find myself headbanging at times, or listening intently, not really paying attention to much else going on around me, other than the music. This album is a piece of art. It is everything I could ever want from an album. Please don't let the LB affiliation dissuade you from checking them out. I didn't  and I couldn't be happier.

Stand out track: Tiger By The Tail

So that wraps up the first part of my year end wrap up! I hope you check in in a few days for the next installment (given we're still alive)!

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#25 Bell's Brewery This One Goes to 11 Ale

**This beer was provided to me by a totally generous, and awesome reader**

I've been attempting to write this review all week, but honestly, this week has been a damned mess. So now, in the comfort of my hotel room, with Sons of Anarchy in the background, I can finally move forward with it.



It's like they knew I was coming. Thanks, hotel people!


This is another excellent beer from Bell's Brewery, over in Michigan. The first beer of theirs I had was the Expedition Stout. You can read about that here. Months later and I still find myself daydreaming about that beer. It's really weird.

I wonder if it ever thinks about me.

Er, anyway...

"This One Goes to 11 Ale" is a special brew, and I'm going to let Bell's tell you all about why:

"Bell's Brewery, Inc.
09.10.2012


Our Batch Series ended at 10,000, but This One Goes to 11 Ale is a bit louder.

Brewed to commemorate our 11,000th batch, this Imperial Red uses hops from the Southern Hemisphere, but also features those from the Pacific Northwest, including a freshly named and newly released varietal.


The official description:

This One Goes to 11 Ale opens with bright, juicy aromas such as tropical fruits & ripe cherries, largely derived from massive kettle & dry-hop additions of Southern Hemisphere hop varieties such as Galaxy, Motueka, and Summer. The citrus & resinous pine notes of the Pacific Northwest hop family are also well represented, making their presence known through Simcoe, Citra, and the newly released Mosaic varietal, just to name a few. A wide range of specialty malts anchor the hops to this Imperial Red Ale, contrasting the assertive bitterness & juicy aromatics with a robust, toasty depth of flavor. Fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, This One Goes to 11 Ale finishes with a lingering warmth.
"

This is copy and pasted from their own blog, here.

So let's get to the review.

They're Waiting...

11 pours a beautiful, dark amber, comparable to the burning orange-red of a sunset. There isn't much of a head in my pour.

It smells damn wonderful. A tempting, roasted sweetness. Citrus and other fruity tones. Definitely can get a hint of booze. It's a very complex nose. Color me damn impressed. But wait, there's more...





The first sip, and it's noticeable heavy in the mouth, but incredibly smooth. The slight burn of booze is upfront, but subsides quickly to a sweet (and hoppier than I would have thought) finish. This is a busy beer. Everything about it, malts, hops, alcohol...It's all perfectly balanced. Which I thought odd, as 11 is a prime number. But hey, that's just my imagination getting away from me.

This beer is very, very good. Even with the slight trace of alcohol in the nose and taste, you would never believe it to be an 11% beer. I am extremely lucky to have gotten my hand on TWO bottles of this, which I will never have again. Were you lucky enough to have gotten your hands on any?




I love Bell's, they need to be available in Maryland. A big thank you to Chester for looking out for me and sending me these bottles and stickers.

You can find them online!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BellsBrewery
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellsBreweryInc
Website: http://bellsbeer.com/

Bell's Brewery This One Goes to 11 Ale

Smell: 4.5/5
Appearance: 5/5
Taste: 4.5/5
Feel: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

This beer pairs well with: This is Spinal Tap

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Cooking With Brewfus: Corn Chowder

YAY! MORE FOOD!

Today's post is relatively quick, easy and delicious. It's also one of my favorites. And as opposed to my last two recipes where I used dark, heavy flavored beers, I used a light flavored ale for this.

So lets get down to it!

Here's what you'll need:

6 cups of peeled and cubed potatoes (Or unpeeled red potatoes. Your call)
1 chopped onion
1 pound of ground pork sausage
1 pound of bacon
16oz bag of frozen corn (or a can of whole corn, but frozen is better)
1 can of creamed corn
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon of marjoram (or oregano)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1-1/2 cups of water
12oz bottle of beer (lager, pilsner, or pale ale)

1) Put the taters, salt, pepper, marjoram, beer, and water into a pot. For this recipe, I used Horny Goat Horny Blonde. Bring to a boil, until potatoes are tender. Maybe about 20 minutes.

2) Cook bacon, set to the side to drain and then crumble. or chop, whatever  Cook the onion and sausages, and drain off the excess. This, I actually do. The grease and oil doesn't seem to mix well with the rest of the recipe. Add this mixture, along with the bacon, to the potatoes, once they're ready.


Have you noticed how much I love meat?

3) Stir in the creamed and frozen corn, along with the can of evaporated milk. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for about 20 minutes or so.


Still doesn't look like much, right?

At this point you're pretty much good to go! I hope you enjoy it, because seriously, it's delicious.


OMNOMNOM

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