My top 10 U.S. craft brews of 2012

Hundreds of beers have slipped through my lips during preceding 12 months, so it’s not easy picking out favorites, but out curiosity forced myself to revisit my tasting notes to see what I imbibed.

I found quite a few American craft brews with substantial appeal, despite a personal passion for British and Belgian imports. The beers on my list represent a broad cross section of styles and U.S. geography.

For the most part, distribution limited my choices to beers available in New York. Nevertheless, such Internet suppliers as Beerjobber.com and LetsPour.com, have made it easier to locate brews from far-flung U.S.

These beers, presented in alphabetical order, stood out in my tasting notes:

stoutlabelwebDuck Rabbit Craft Brewery Milk Stout. Farmville, NC. Sweet Stout. 5.7% abv. This is quickly becoming one of my perennial favorites with its enormous cocoa hued, rocky head, deep brown, opaque body and rich, sweet toasty malt notes. It’s soft as silk on the palate.

Founders Brewing Co. Linch Pin White. Grand Rapids, MI. American IPA, 7% abv. A collaboration with Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego, CA,  this golden, cloudy, brew has a dense rocky white head, citrus on the nose and spices and fruit on the palate with a finish that can only be described as tingly.

irishdeathfullIron Horse Brewing Quilter’s Irish Death. Ellensburgh, WA. American Strong Ale, 7.8% abv. Dark and dangerous with an alcoholic strength is deceptive. Incredibly smooth mouth feel. Malty sweet, with notes of bready yeast, roasted chocolate, raisins and dates, coffee, cola, molasses and a mild alcohol tinge.   Untappd lists this as an American Strong Ale, but this is a brew that isn’t easily categorized.

Ithaca Beer Co. Excelsior! Fourteen. Ithaca, NY. Imperial Black IPA. 8.1% abv. Balance is the key to this brew, which offers sweet malt notes and a nice dry finish.

Kelso of Brooklyn Brett IPA. Greenpoint Beer Works. Brooklyn, NY. Belgian IPA. NA abv. I’m a sucker for sour beers and was quite taken by this tart, funky and fruity brew which emulates the Belgian-style. Hazy, orange-hued and oh-so-delicious.

rpab-logo (1)Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Hefeweizen. Rocky Point, NY. Hefeweizen, 4.8%. Absolutely delicious. Blind-tasted it would fool a Bavarian with its classic banana, bubble gum and spice flavors.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2012.  Chico, CA. American IPA. 6.8% abv. A beautifully balanced copper-colored blend of juicy malt and tangy hops preceded by the brewery’s trademark citrus nose.  One sip demands another and one glass must be followed by another.

Stone Brewing Co. Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale. San Diego, CA. American strong ale, 13% abv.   A tribute by Bottleworks, a Seattle craft beer store, to the number 13, marking its 13 years in business with 13 malts, 13 hops, and 13% abv.  Thick and delicious. Malty sweet with notes of dried fruit and licorice. A big thank you to Stone’s Dennis Flynn for the pour.

rudeman137x167Wandering Star Brewery Rude Man.  Pittsfield, MA. English-style Barleywine, 10.6%. A smooth, deceptively dangerous-to-drink strong brew.  Fruity with a pronounced malty sweetness, this brew lacks the  overwhelming hoppiness typically found in American craft barley wines.  I gave this five stars.

Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA. Portland, OR. 6.5 % abv. One of my favorites in the emerging black IPA or Cascadian dark style.  Round, smooth and balanced with a resiny, fruity nose, notes of toast and caramel, it has a long. dry finish.

Next: My top 10 import favorites

4 Comments

Filed under Taps - Beer

4 Responses to My top 10 U.S. craft brews of 2012

  1. greg

    Milk Stout does not belong on this list. Should instead be Flying Bison Brewing Companys “Rusty Chain”. Best beer I’ve tasted this year

    • Alan

      Greg, hate to disagree with you, since the list reflects MY opinions. As for FLying Bison Rusty Chain. Can’t get my hands on it, so I can’t rate it.

  2. john naegele

    Good choices!!!

    However, NONE of your 10 for 2012 would make my 10 for 2012 list.

    I LOVE THAT! Vive la Revolution!!!

    Minister of Information

  3. Alan,
    Thanks for the great list. I have not tried many of these beers, so now I have a new mission! Hopefully you’ll get a chance to try some of my favorites (including Smuttynose IPA). We do have some great local LI beers on tap as evidenced as your inclusion of RPAB’s Hefe. Also, a vastly underated local beer, Spider Bite’s First Bite. Unique and refreshing, not like other pale ales at all – and isn’t that a good thing?

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