I hesitate to think how many beers the BeerMenus team consumed in 2016.
- We had a heck of a lot of local stuff from the many great NYC breweries.
- We made a few collaboration brews.
- We went down to Philly for the Craft Brewer's Conference.
- We flew to Chicago for Craft Beer Week.
- Our co-founder Will went to Belgium and brought back some Cantillon.
- We attended Ommegang's Belgium Comes to Cooperstown.
- We had a company retreat in Maine in December.
But despite the one or two beers all that entailed, everybody here at BeerMenus had one single beer that spoke to them more than the rest. Below you'll find everyone's top beer from 2016.
If you're one of the breweries who make these great beers, thank you! And if you agree with our choices, then cheers to you!
One Friday I hopped on a Citibike to head up to Greenpoint Beer & Ale for their can release. When I got there I was greeted by brewer Jeff Lyons who gave me a full tour of the brewery, explaining each step of the process, all while waxing poetic about craft beer and the kind of beers he likes to make. The can of Turbulence, an Imperial IPA featuring Equinox, Citra, and Mosaic, was as fresh as it gets and bursted with fresh guava and papaya flavors from the Equinox hops. The beer on its own was fantastic, but the personal connection to the brewer made it my favorite beer of the year.
I was visiting my family on the Chesapeake Bay and stopped to pick up beer at a liquor store nearby. When traveling, I always try local beers, and this time I picked up a six pack of RAR Nanticoke Nectar. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a delicious, fresh, juicy IPA. Discovering it was great, and drinking it in this beautiful place, cool breeze coming off the water, and surrounded by the people I love made it my favorite beer of the year. (Photo courtesy of Washington Post.)
I love the legends about Lagunitas's GABF disqualifications. Category-bending styles, envelope pushing...these words used to describe craft beer perfectly, but they were exactly what Lagunitas was punished for. For me, Mad Eric fit perfectly in that same boundary-pushing vein. The bonus: SingleCut is in Astoria, Queens, just a subway ride from my apartment.
And the coup de grace: the beer adds a great story that elevates each sip. Unexpectedly infected barrels with a unique strain of yeast that turned what was meant to be a barrel aged stout into a sour milk stout. That's everything I love about craft beer.
I had the pleasure of dining at Blue Hill Stone Barn last summer and was blown away by their commitment to holistic farming. We ate mushrooms smoked over spent grains, sampled cheese from cows grazing twenty yards from the kitchen, and picked vine-fermented crabapples that were stewed for dessert.
Field Rotation captures the essence of craft beer: quality ingredients and attention to detail. The clover, oats, rye, and barley all grow in harmony to create a sustainable ecosystem - and deliver one delicious brew.
Every late spring I head up to my dad’s cabin in central Minnesota. It’s a perfect time of year to be there because fishing season’s open, the kids are still in school (so it’s not too busy), and the weather's cool. The return to my home turf also lets me binge on some of my favorite home-region beers. First place is Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout. Cracking one of these after bass fishing on dad’s pontoon (hands still fishy) with a good buddy was by far my favorite beer of the year.
After a 5-hour drive from NYC to Portland, Maine (the entirety of which I slept with my mouth open), I was parched when we showed up to Bissell Brothers. The beers were delicious by themselves, but it was especially fun enjoying them while I watched the rest of our team caravan roll in—the stop at Bissell marked the start of the BeerMenus December beer retreat.
Also great: how many cases of beer we took with us, as seen in the picture below. Hard to believe we fit four grown men and six or seven cases of tallboys in there.
What a year, 2016. I sure drank a lot of beer, so I had no shortage of excellent options when naming my favorite.
But nothing hit me quite like Derivative. The blue can is visually striking (+1), and even though I drank it right alongside all the standouts the great state of Maine has to offer, it was still special.
Once I popped the can, huge aromas of pineapple and passionfruit flew out. I've had plenty of Galaxy beers over the years, but none has so masterfully harnessed this hop like Derivative. It drank juicier than most and absolutely floored me with its flavor. After the first can, I hoarded the other four packs that we'd picked up. Sorry, co-workers.
The take home: I'll be on the Amtrak to Kingston as often as possible in 2017.
Roni, adventurous Colorado citizen that she is, was unfortunately off the grid when we rounded up our list of favorites. So, while we can't know exactly why she loved this apricot sour from Odell, we do know that, when annoyingly pressed about her favorite beer of 2016, she was direct with her answer: Zard-Alu. Hope you're enjoying yourself, Roni!
We've got a BeerMenus page for our office fridges here in Brooklyn, so beer lovers occasionally drop in for a conversation and/or a beer. Being relatively new to the team, as of early fall I hadn't really been involved with one of these occasions. But then, one nice autumn afternoon, a fella named Nathan arrived and pulled a couple cold Focal Bangers out of his backpack. We cracked those—and a few more beers—and had a helluva time. While I now know this is pretty commonplace, Nathan's visit was one of the first times I partook. And I loved it.
I first discovered Gravitation in May 2015. It's a seasonal beer, part of Smuttynose's "Big Beer" series. My first taste was on draft at Valhalla, near my apartment in Manhattan. I loved the sweetness and the maltiness (tripels and quads are my favorite beer styles) and was a big fan of the Gravitation right away. I drank as much as I could and began counting down the days until the 2016 release, which was supposed to have come out in February.
But the month came and went with no Gravitation—Smuttynose decided not to brew it this year!
For a few days I thought all hope was lost. But then Smuttynose tweeted that they had some cases of the 2015 Gravitation leftover. They were selling it out of their brewery store for $30 per case. I managed to purchase a lifetime supply and, almost a year later, I'm still a huge fan.
Make sure you check back again tomorrow to read our 2016 Roundup Part 4: Most Popular Beers.