Best “New” Beers of 2016

2016.pngOh yes, another Top 10 list. Everyone loves to read a top 10 list; either to trash it, agree with it, discuss it, or do all of the above. My top 10 list of favorite “new” beers of the year has certain criteria to meet. The beer must:

1: Be a beer I had not tasted previously

2: Must be available for purchase at Eastern Iowa breweries, restaurants, or liquor stores.

That’s it.

This list could easily be 25-50 beers deep, but I finally got it down to 10. Last year my list was a tad excessive so I refocused, recollected, and thought long and hard. This is purely subjective and I know I probably left one off that made your list so feel free to respond with your top 10, top 5, or just your favorite of the year. So, without further ado, in no particular order, the Baron’s Top 10:

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**Prairie Pirate Noir – I just had this beer this past weekend and was absolutely blown away. Part of 4 variants released recently in Eastern Iowa and this one was my favorite of the 4. All very good, but this one stood out. Rum barrels shine a bit more in this beer than in Pirate Bomb! A very viscous stout and perfect for a chilly Iowa day. I would love more of this!

mondos**Reunion Tank Puncher – I hope folks were able to try this beer from Reunion and I hope they decide to make more of it as well. This was my entry into my family beer festival and eventual gold medal winner (back to back for me :). This is the perfect beer for the tropical hop crazed beer lover. Reunion was out the last time I checked, let’s hope they get this one up and rolling again!

lion-bridge**Lion Bridge Gobble Wobble – take a traditional style brown masterfully done by Lion Bridge and age it on Wild Turkey barrels…what do you get? An excellent cold weather brew! The taste from the barrel pairs well perfect with the nuttiness of the brown to give you the a great companion to warm you up this winter.


pipo

**Kickshaw Pipo– watermelon shines in this sour/blonde beer from Kickshaw. Stocking up on this one as I’m looking forward to a few glasses of this during the summer months but damn it sure is tasty along side a salad and even better with some fish tacos! Looking forward to more from Bill and Kickshaw!

img_0804**Summit Unchained: Dark Infusion – this beer made my Drink This! write up. You can view that here:  https://iabeerbaron.com/2016/11/05/drink-this-summit-dark-infusion-coffee-milk-stout/. Summit gave us one of the best stouts of the year IMO and luckily I’m still able to grab four packs of this from the shelves. Almost chocolate covered caramel with some coffee splashed in. Stout lovers will rejoice for this brew. No need for barrels, this is perfect as is.

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Odell Jolly Russian– I must have a thing for rum that was apparent until drinking this and Pirate Noir. So many great barrel aged beers available to us this year and I was happy to get a chance to try this one. The dark roast and coffee flavors blend nicely with the rum barrel. I would love a few more bottles of this!

big grove**Big Grove Brewery Richard and Pralines – keep the barrel-aged year going with a brew from a local brewery. Big Grove has made their mark with some great pales/IPAs and their popular Richard the Whale and variants. This variant adds a bit of sweetness to Richard. If you can still get a pour of this, order yourself an Arms Race as this warms and then you’ll be in for a real treat. With the opening of the new brewery on the horizon it will be interesting to see what Big Grove has in store for us! 

pulpi**Pulpit Rock Loopy Lynn – a relative newcomer to the Iowa beer scene and right across the street from TG, Pulpit Rock has become a big time player making some awesome brews! I had this double IPA at a Pulpit tap takeover at Blackstone Restaurant in Iowa City and was blown away. City shines though on this juicy double. I really want more of this!

**Pulpit Rock For the Joy of Almonds – liquid Almond Joy. Amazing beer on its own or for dessert. Pulpit takes their milk stout and ages it on toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, and almonds to give you silky, smooth, delicious stout. Pulpit brews are starting to pop up more in the Eastern Iowa area. Need Pizzeria in Cedar Rapids has had them on frequently and Reds Alehouse is starting to get some kegs as well. Great things coming out of Decorah.

toppling goliath**Toppling Goliath Double Dry Hopped Sue – How do you make an already impressive and sought after beer more impressive and sought after? Double Dry hop that bad boy and that’s what Toppling Goliath did with PseudoSue. More hops equals more hazy goodness from this beer. Hopefully this makes a return this summer as this would make a fine companion to some grilling in the Iowa heat.

Honorable Mentions:
Odell Elephunk, 3rd Base Friends Forever, Pulpit Rock Mighty Fine, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Coconut Rum Reserve, Lagunitas High Westified, Prairie Apple Brandy Noir, Big Grove Raspberry Que Sera.

There’s the list. There were some beers I wish I could’ve tried but missed out on, there were some that would make many lists and some that made mine but not even scratch the surface of yours. My New Year’s Resolution is keep trying to get to the Iowa breweries. I would love some more Alluvial and 515 in my life. I would love to see what beers made your list. Maybe it’s time for another Best of Iowa poll? Happy New Year!

And the Best Pale Ale in Iowa is……

 

gold

 

big grove1st Place – Big Grove Brewery Arms Race Pale Ale

 

 

 

 

silver

2nd Place – 515 Brewing Passe 515

 

 

 

 

 

bronze

 

toppling goliath 3rd Place – Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue 

 

 

 

Once again, congrats to the winners. Next poll will open either tonight (Monday) or tomorrow and I’m thinking it will be double/triple IPA category. Are there enough browns/porters/saisons/pils to do individual categories for those? I’ll research a bit and hopefully we can do all of those. Thanks for voting, thanks for the interaction and cheers!

Best of Iowa Beer: Pale Ale

beerbaronA new poll is upon us and with the past polls I’m hoping for some fun discussion and comments. Lion Bridge takes home gold in the barrel-aged/imperial stout category and Big Grove takes home the gold in the IPA category. Toppling Goliath dominates the entries in the pale ale field and is probably a clear favorite.

Of British origin, this style is now popular worldwide and the use of local ingredients, or imported, produces variances in character from region to region. Generally, expect a good balance of malt and hops. Fruity esters and diacetyl can vary from none to moderate, and bitterness can range from lightly floral to pungent.

American versions tend to be cleaner and hoppier, while British tend to be more malty, buttery, aromatic and balanced.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%

Once again, if I’ve left off a possible entry please shoot me a message so I can get it added. Voting will close next Sunday night! Good luck, have fun, and cheers!