We've got a few new faces chiming into this year's list, but, just like last year's list, the range is pretty darn impressive. We've got Minnesota IPAs, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Italy pilsners, German biergartens, mouse-themed wild ales from the Windy City, and more.
We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoy pulling this list together!
Around the holidays, I look forward to relaxing with my family and warming up with a barrel aged stout on a cold day. This year, Unique Facade, a bottle-conditioned peach and apricot saison from Tired Hands caught me off guard in the best possible way.
I was immediately hit with the bright, effervescent, fruit notes with just the right amount of tart. After a few sips, I was curious about the ABV and shocked to see it clocked in at 9.5%.
Unique Facade immediately became my new favorite winter warmer and reminded me again why I love beer—the never ending experimentation that creates new flavors and unique takes on what a beer can be.
This year I had the pleasure of working remotely from Berlin for a few months. During a hot summer day we took a food tour around Prenzlauer Berg tasting the local brats, noodles, and, of course, pilsners. Berlin is a city with practically no air conditioning—even taking a break in a movie theater leaves you sticky! So we had spent most of the day hopping from one shaded area to another to keep cool.
When we finally made it to the last stop, the Pratergarten Biergarten, the group collapsed at one of the many picnic tables. Our tour guide brought over round after round of Prater Pils as we slowly cooled down; light, crisp, just a tad hoppy, and so pleasantly refreshing.
The pilsner, together with some oversized German pretzels, wrapped up one of the best evenings we had in Berlin. The biergarten made you really feel like a local and what better way to celebrate that than with a pilsner that's been brewed from the same recipe for hundreds of years!
Dylan Blake • Head of Marketing | Freshwater shark hunter
My "favorite" beer of the year never has much to do with the beer itself. I don't wrack my brain to remember the tastiest, most crafty, most well-balanced, most anything-like-that beer. Instead, I think back to the best experiences I had during the year and remember the beer I paired with them.
One of the best experiences I had in 2019 was an autumn fishing trip I took with my dad and one of my best friends. The location: Rainy Lake in western Ontario. The primary target: the oft maligned, not-as-respected-as-it-should-be northern pike.
We stayed in a pretty darn off-the-grid place—our home island was a 10-mile boat ride from the nearest point of civilization—so we had to bring in all our food and drink. That forced me to be choosy about the beers I brought along. Among various imperial stouts was a 4-pack of Dankbot.
Our days went mostly like this: wake up, make coffee and breakfast, go fishing for a few hours, back to the cabin for lunch, go fishing again until dusk, then come back and split the evening duties (cleaning the fish and making dinner) before chatting and winding down.
(Sidebar: If I was asked to describe my perfect day, that right there would be within spitting distance.)
At night, my hands and arms were tired from the hundreds of casts I'd thrown that day and my belly was filled with fish that we'd caught, cleaned, and cooked. My dad, my good pal Manny, and I would sit around talking and drinking beer, recapping the day that was and hatching a scheme about where we'd go tomorrow to really haul 'em in.
The final team member present for those fantastic evenings was Dankbot. And since I can't choose "Northern Pike," "my Dad," or "my pal Manny" as my favorite beer of 2019, the winner is obvious: it's Dankbot.
Everybody else can pick a bright and shiny new beer for their favorite beer of 2019. Mine is one I've had countless times: Wrench by Industrial Arts.
While I'm always looking to try anything new and am open to any beer style, I more often than not wind up going with one IPA or another.
But that's getting a little tricky these days. We're living In a world full of high ABV DIPAs, and that's precisely why I love Wrench so much: it comes in at a perfect 6.8% ABV. Right in my wheelhouse.
At this point I've picked up enough 4-packs that my girlfriend gives me a hard time about not "branching-out" more and trying something else.
But whenever I catch that guff from her, I just slap back with a favorite mantra: don't fix what ain't broke.
Wrench ain't broke.
Gage Siegel • Head of Business Relations | Continental crispy boy advocate
Some people say that Italian Style Pilsner isn't really a new style of Pilsner, that much like a Brut IPA it's a flash in the pan and we'll forget about it within a couple weeks. But I've been drinking so darn much IPA since starting Non Sequitur Beer Project that all I want is a crispy boy.
I mean, if you want to give me a clean and crispy pilsner with a healthy dry hopping and a present all around hop character, I'm buying. Haters be damned!
There are a few phenomenal examples with beers like Birrificio Italiano Tipopils (the progenitor of the style), Oxbow Luppulo, and Pivo Firestone Walker's Pivo—all great! But the one that stood out above the rest was Il Purgatorio from our neighbors at KCBC. It hit all the marks, I drank a lot of them, and tbh I wish I could've consumed a helluva lot more.
Suneet Bhatt • Growth Advisor | Principled ideas man
On February 25, 2017, my wife and I sold our condo in Jersey City and set out to find a new place. At my suggestion, we moved in with my wonderful in-laws while we searched. "Three months" I told everyone. "Three months or so and we'll have a new house."
Well, fast forward through 8 or so home purchase pump fakes (bids, attempts, inspections, and so on) and—finally—on November 27, 2019 we closed on our new house. (Also, shout out to me for surprising my wife and coordinating the closing on our house to take place on our 9-year anniversary—I get one boss move every 10 years or so).
When we packed up for the move, I stashed 40 bottles of my favorite beer—Bourbon County—in a few boxes and stored them in a friend's basement. I assured both them and myself that I'd scoop them back up very soon.
But then, as it so often does, life happened. I forgot. Specifically. What I had.
When those boxes finally made it back to my orbit, I rediscovered a BCBS lineup that took me way beyond bliss.
So on New Year's Eve, with a family crawling with lice, we shelved our plans and stayed home. Yeah, that's nasty. But it gave me cause to tap into my Bourbon County collection. And tap in I did.
The 2012 held up 9 years later. The 2014 was my favorite, as it held all the notes but maintained its body—which the 2012 had foregone in favor of a less viscous liquid. The 2015 was exceptional and in its sweet spot.
It's amazing how many emotions and memories can be poured into a glass, swirled, and indulged. Adding a new sensory experience to our move and our transition to our new home with the blessings of two amazing parents (you can call them in-laws, but I've been done with that since our wedding day if not earlier) was fantastic. It all amounted to be—by far—my favorite "beer" of the year.
Thank you BCBS for holding up; and thank you Milan and Meeta for holding these in your basement. Here's to a lice-free 2020!
It's been two years since my partner and I moved to New York from Chicago, and we still find ourselves needing to make a yearly pilgrimage home to get our fill of Midwest beer & grub. After a week-long trip revisiting our favorite Chicago restaurants & drinking as much on-draft Zombie Dust & Jolly Pumpkin as we could handle, my partner and I decided to make Off Color's taproom—the Mousetrap—our final destination. Off Color's beers have hit my craving for anything yeasty, sour, and/or funky since I first got into craft beer, so I was excited to finally check out the pours exclusive to the Mousetrap.
I was immediately drawn to Squoke, the first beer brewed at the Mousetrap in Barolo wine barrels. It's dry, crisp, and full of delicious tannin & stone fruit flavors. While many wild ales I've had this year have been saccharine & fruity, Squoke hits a perfect balance of being jammy but not too sweet.
I'm excited to go back to the Mousetrap and ring in the New Year with another glass of Squoke (though probably not on the patio this time if the Chicago winter has its way).
Nelson Siegel • Mascot, inspiration | Fart machine
The doggone best beer of 2019 has got to be the newest beer I released with my human. We have a beer project called Non Sequitur Beer Project and the beer is called You Should've Seen This Coming.
Why is it my favorite? Simple: I'm on the label! Also, it's made with my namesake hops (Nelson Sauvin!). And I'm not saying I'm self centered or think the world revolves around me or anything like that, but it's about h*ckin time someone immortalized me like this. I've worked too hard to just be some run-of-the-mill Frenchie.
2 paws way up for the label, no idea how it tastes.