Top 25 Beers of 2012 (available in Eastern Iowa) Part 3 of 5

top 2

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and got to drink some wonderful beers. I’m hoping to get this list done by New Year’s Day so here we go with part 3 0f 5.



stoneStone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA – Imperial IPA – 10.8%

Yes, another Stone brewery beer is on this list. But that has to tell you how great their beers are and how lucky we are to have them on our liquor/grocery store shelves in Eastern Iowa. This beer was my favorite of the year until I ran into their Enjoy By IPA, but still an amazing beer. Huge citrus hop presence in the nose and the flavor is much the same. It was one of those beers that you were lucky to try one, but if you saw 20 bottles you should buy the whole lot. Description from the brewery:

And as Stone Ruination IPA turns 10, we thought we’d make ourselves a nice little birthday present to celebrate. But what kind of selfish jerks would we be if we didn’t share?! Behold, the Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA. (Clever name, eh? That’s why us folks in the Marketing Dept. get the big bucks!) It’s an amped-up version of Stone Ruination IPA, with a bit more malt to bring the abv up from 7.7% to 10.8%, and a very heavy dose of hops. “Classic” Ruination uses 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel–which is more than double the amount we use in any other of our core beers–but for Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, we went double again, using an impressive 5 pounds of hops per barrel, including about a pound each of Citra and Centennial in the dry hop. (Hell. Yes.)

Suggested Pairings, provided by “Dr.” Bill Sysak 
Appetizers: Kimchee, ceviche, bacon-wrapped jalapeños (or habaneros)
Entrées: Salt and pepper shrimp, jambalaya, roasted pork chops with apple sauce, pineapple curry 
Desserts: Apple pie with caramel sauce, toffee bars, spiced carrot cake 
Cheeses: Aged Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort, Mimolette 
Cigars: Ashton Classic Majesty, Litto Gomez Diez, Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Invictos Corojo Robusto

evil twinEvil Twin Biscotti Break – 8.4% – Imperial Porter

A perfect beer to drink during the winter months in Iowa. Nice robust flavors of nuts, biscuits, coffee, dark chocolate, and malts. The flavor is sweet, caramel and coffee dominate with a nice bitter finish. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one and the price tag is relatively hefty, anywhere from $15-$20 for a bottle, but definitely worth seeking and trying in my opinion. From the brewery:

Editors note: the first edition was brewed at Fanø Bryghus, Denmark for the Beer cruise Rome-Barcelona, June 2011 and held 7.5% ABV. 

Porter made with espresso, vanilla and toasted almonds for the Beer cruise Rome-Barcelona, June 2011. Italy has a certain “je ne sais quoi” – fab food culture, highly decadent history of art and cool countryside. Some might argue the people are loud and flamboyant, they steal our women, and their soccer players melodramatically flop on the pitch. Listen – that’s all part of the secret Italian ingredient – keep it cool, confident, arrogant and extravagant. Forza Italia! 
Malt beverage with almonds, vanilla beans and coffee added.

double troubleFounders Double Trouble – 9.4% – Imperial IPA

Another relatively new brewery in Eastern Iowa this year that has multiple beers on my list. I think it goes to show that local breweries are going to have to up their game a bit to compete for shelf space with the craft beer greats such as Founders and Stone. Powerful double IPA with strong citrus flavor. Very drinkable and be cautious as it comes in at 9.4% ABV. Great stuff, can’t wait for spring release! From the brewery:

An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops have got you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front paired with a malt balanced backbone and a smooth bitter finish. 86 IBUs.



Sierra Nevada Hoptimum – 10.4% – Imperial IPA

The first time I had this beer I was enjoying one with my brother. His first comment upon opening the beer is that it smelled heavily of weed, which I guess must be a good thing, because this beer blew me away. In your face hop presence in both aroma and flavor. A very aggressive beer, not for virgin craft beer drinker. From the brewery:

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp (#19) brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put- Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped and torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas. 

Hops, hops and more hops are the stars of this big, whole-cone Imperial IPA. Resinous ‘new-school’ and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar and tropical fruit – all culminating in a dry and lasting finish. 

Beer specs: 
ABV: 10.4%
Original Gravity: 22.8 Plato
Final Gravity: 4.5 Plato
Bitterness Units: 100 IBU
Color: Orange Amber
Bittering Hops: German Magnum
Aroma Hops: Simcoe & New Proprietary Variety
Dry Hops: Simcoe & New Proprietary Variety
Torpedo Hops: Citra & Chinook
Malts: Two-row Pale, Golden Promise, Munich & Wheat
Yeast: Ale

great river
Great River Redband Coffee Stout – 6% – Stout

Brewed in the great state of Iowa used with their local coffee shops coffee beans this an intense coffee stout. Huge coffee flavor that pairs perfectly the dark chocolate and roasted malts in this stout. Nice bitter finish that lingers for a bit. A great beer, and glad to have this made in Iowa. From the brewery:

We love our local roaster’s New Orleans Iced Coffee so much we decided to use their beans in our brew. Redband Stout is made with Indonesian and Ethiopian beans using our 18-hour cold brew extraction method, resulting in a satisfying brew with intense coffee aromatics. The marriage of two of our favorite beverages.

Beer Review #91: Founders Backwoods Bastard

It has been a wonderful year for beer in Eastern Iowa. Green Flash, Stone, and Founders have made their way to our state and have graced us with some fantastic brews. Founders was the first major brewery to re-enter the state of Iowa and they have brought some amazing beers with them. I love their Harvest Ale, Breakfast Stout, KBS, and their IPA is really solid as well. Those are all your basic style beers, IPAs and stouts, so I was a little frightened to venture into the land of Barrel-Aged wee-heavy or scotch ales. I’m not a whiskey drinker by any means so I was under the impression that I would really dislike this brew……..I was very, very, wrong.

Description from Founders:

Big and delicious for your ’perty mouth. Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts. A bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark cherries. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.

I think the most important thing when drinking a bourbon barrel aged beer isn’t getting a mouthfeel of bourbon to taste the balanced the booziness will be with the rich flavor of malt from, in this case, a Scotch Ale, and Founders really nails it with this beer. Is the bourbon in the beer? Absolutely, but not overwhelming, and a nice warming sensation when drinking. This is not a beer to chug in 10 minutes, but to sit and enjoy for 30 minutes or so. The dark chocolate undertones you get with the bourbon when you first start drinking transform, at least for me, into a chocolately-coconut aroma and taste. Halfway done with this beer and I thought I was drinking a liquified Almond Joy candy bar.

A rustic, old world beer that hits my Top 10 beers of the fall/winter to try. This beer would also be great for aging. When the snow starts falling and you are out shoveling like a sucker or snow blowing your drive; coming in from that and having one of these waiting for you makes it all worth it.


STYLE: Wee Heavy/Scotch Ale bourbon barrel aged.


PURCHASED AT: Hy-Vee; Marion, IA

Pour: Dark red pour with a brown hue. Minimal white head.

Aroma: Malt, bourbon, caramel.

Taste: Caramel, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and bourbon. The warmer it got the sweeter the taste.

Overall: A-

My Recommendation: Awesome beer, a great winter warmer.