Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 10 BEST Beers of 2009

Everyone loves a "Top 10" list, right? So I thought I'd do a list of the 10 best beers I reviewed for the first time in 2009 regardless of their release date. This list is simply a PERSONAL PREFERENCE and is NOT intended to be "The best beers ever made" or anything like that (frankly, I think lists like that are bullshit).

And since I reviewed the majority of beers I've ever reviewed for the first time in 2009, this is essentially my Top 10 Personal Favorites of ALL TIME list!

However, next year the list will be completely different since none of these beers will be eligible. I'll also be interested to see if any future beers can usurp a beer from my personal favorites list. We'll see.

#10 Dogfish Head Squall IPA
In response to Gary & Melissa Imasofat's challenge to not only find a bottle of Dogfish Head Squall IPA, but to decide if it's the best beer ever made, I enlisted the help of the YouTube Beer-Reviewer ALL STARS!

VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF3rcAlEnZk

#9 Schneider Weisse Original
 Authentic German wheat beers are often very spicy and Schneider Weisse Original is certainly no exception. Upon my first taste I noticed a great combination of nutmeg and clove. What differentiates this beer from others is the strong sweet component it utilizes. I noticed a distinct flavor of vanilla and what I would call a “banana bread” taste (many hefes have a banana flavor, but this tastes more like banana bread – honestly!)

What’s so interesting about this beer is the palate is evenly-divided and well-balanced between its sweet and spicy components. The initial mouthfeel is sweet and delectable with a juicy-like richness of flavor (especially vanilla and caramel). As it finishes, the spices are released en masse giving the beer a bit of a kick. Clove, nutmeg, banana and possibly cinnamon make themselves known in the finish.

And yet there is still an unmistakable light and watery composition to the body so as to make the overall palate surprisingly mild. The flavor here is quite a work of art.

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/06/schneider-weisse-hefeweizen-original.html 
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT__LAoDyb0

#8 Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
I’m a fan of stouts because they tend to have a strong, roasty quality to their taste. But with Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout the taste was a bit in the opposite direction. The flavor here is remarkably sweet with a general malty palate. It certainly doesn’t taste like your breakfast oatmeal, but it does have a very robust, yet mellow taste.

Chocolate and vanilla seem to be underlying flavors, making this an excellent choice as a dessert beer. What’s interesting is the beer does not have a creamy texture as many stouts are know for. It has the basic mouthfeel of an ale with a great incorporation of hops so as to have a distinct bitterness. 

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/02/samuel-smiths-oatmeal-stout-chadz-beer.html
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o55q1IHq0T8

#7 Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale
There’s nothing quite like the joy of knowing a beer is outstanding on the first swig. I really couldn’t have drank Santa’s Private Reserve at a better time of year since this is indeed a gift in a bottle for me. My first sip was intense with a creamy, sweet head combined with the dense hop bitterness from the body. It’s very rich, intense, sticky and fairly heavy in the mouth.

The real flavor comes on the back end where the malts swoop in with a dull sweetness of maple syrup. I say “dull” because it’s not a super lively, candy-like sweetness that dances on the palate. This beer’s flavor doesn’t need a lot of fanfare to do its job properly.

It should be noted the palate here is noticeably dry and bitter. There’s a strong piney, resin-like palate and an aftertaste to match (which, as a hophead, I enjoy). Obviously, this flavor isn’t for everyone but for those that have acquired the taste it’s remarkable.

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/12/rogue-santas-private-reserve-ale-chadz.html
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkzajyw83aM

#6 Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
What surprised me about Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale was how creamy the composition of the body seemed upon my first few sips. I tend to associate beers of this type with having a flat, watery texture, but this was much richer.

Caramel seems to be the predominant flavor with a walnut-like taste noticeable in the background. Overall, the palate is very sweet, not unlike an artificially-sweetened cola, and yet it’s also quite mild. The flavor doesn’t overwhelm you, but it does make its presence known.

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/03/samuel-smiths-nut-brown-ale-chadz-beer.html
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Du-9Enlgk

#5 Magic Hat Roxy Rolles
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s just nothing quite as pleasing as taking the first swig of a beer and knowing it will be a 5-star brew on the first tasting. Roxy Rolles is the kind of beer that only Magic Hat could pull off. The bottle describes it as “a hoppy amber ale” which I initially took to mean a strong Irish Red but this is much more reminiscent of an India Pale Ale.

Much like the aroma, the taste here is bursting with hops and a strong fruit component. It wasn’t tart enough to be citrus and not tangy like cranberry, could it possibly be strawberry? Having scoured the internet and read other critic’s reviews I noticed none mentioned strawberry as a taste component but I swear I can detect it here. Grapefruit is a very likely ingredient, as this beer has a strong, delicious, lip-smacking taste that is a joy to drink.

This is not a gimmicky beer, either, as its strong hoppy characteristics are quite notable. In fact, the beer has almost a slightly salty taste not unlike an IPA (and could be the only aspect of this beer that requires appreciation to enjoy).

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2011/11/magic-hat-roxy-rolles-re-review-chadz.html
VIDEO REVIEW (original): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWoip1-WCfs
VIDEO REVIEW (re-review): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQquVXe4ni0

#4 Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
When I think of a perfect IPA, a palate such as Torpedo Extra IPA is exactly what I have in mind. It’s a great hybrid of East and West Coast styles. I find Western IPAs tend to have a resin-like, very piney component to their flavor and are more sweet and dry, whereas beers of the Eastern variety are more citrus-flavored, tart and crisp. Somehow this beer manages to contain elements of both (although I’d say it leans a little towards the west).

There is a strong hop presence to be tasted here with a very bitter back end. In fact, the finish might be just a bit too dry for some, but I enjoyed it. The initial taste is sweet with notes of resin – giving the beer a sticky palate (literally). It doesn’t quite crackle like a more tart beer would, but the sweetness itself is extremely satisfying and very inviting. It’s actually rather tangy, maybe even a little watery, but it’s ultimately pleasing to the palate and that’s what matters most, right?

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/07/sierra-nevada-torpedo-extra-ipa-chad.html
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLbRMp8fsA4

#3 Rogue Chocolate Stout
Probably the reason I’ve been so unimpressed by other “chocolate beers” to date is due to the fact their chocolaty taste isn’t noticeable until the finish and in the aftertaste. The difference with Rogue Chocolate Stout is noticeable immediately as soon as the head touched my tongue. Once the liquid itself hit my palate it was simply a chocolate orgy of flavor.

This is exactly the taste I’ve been hoping for. Sure, a dark, roasty beer with a chocolate/coffee component is quite tasty, but sometimes it’s fun to make chocolate the first and foremost ingredient. Although Rogue claims this beer is made with “natural chocolate flavors” among other high-quality brewing ingredients, it seems rich and authentic to me.

And yet the beer still has all the makings of a great beer. Piney, cascade hops are very noticeable in the flavor, so much so that I might even go as far as to describe it as citrusy. This also gives the beer more of bitter, dark chocolate taste than a sugary, gimmicky taste. 

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/02/rogue-chocolate-stout-chadz-beer.html
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7oMuH2peqM

#2 Southern Tier Pumking
We all know taste is indisputable but I think some thing are universally regarded as delicious and pumpkin pie is probably one of them. Southern Tier Imperial Pumking is as close as any beer probably will get to liquid pumpkin pie, at least in terms of enjoyment. In fact, I’d say this beer is actually better than the pie since it’s so much more complex.

As the nose indicates, the palate here is quite complex. Upon first the first sip the taste of real pureed pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon make themselves known giving the beer a sweet, confectionary taste. On the finish there’s an even stronger flavor of oak and vanilla as if this were a cask-conditioned brew (to my knowledge it isn’t).

And not unlike a double bock, Pumking also has a bready maltiness from its use of two-row pale and caramel malts. Magnum and sterling hops balance everything out for a ever-so-slightly dry bitterness. This is a beer that doesn’t really taste like “beer” but it’s not so overly-flavored to point of becoming gimmicky thanks mostly to its smooth finish.

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2011/12/southern-tier-pumking-re-review-chadz.html
VIDEO REVIEW (original): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhvNs0YdNVw
VIDEO REVIEW (re-review): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWJkL2VB1ng

#1 Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
I don’t have a checklist of things I look for in an IPA or even in a beer in general, but if I did I’d have to say Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA would meet all the requirements and then some. From the first taste I get a strong citrus taste with a bitter hop bite. It’s so good it makes me cluck my tongue just to savor it all.

Now, plenty of beers are strongly-flavored, but that doesn’t necessarily make them good. Thankfully, in the case of this beer it’s not only strongly-flavored but absolutely delicious as well. It’s a crisp, tart and refreshing as an ice-cold glass of freshly-squeeze lemonade on a hot summer’s day. But this is no seasonal, it’s a beer that really has a timeless, year-round value. 

TEXT REVIEW: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2009/05/dogfish-head-60-minute-ipa-chad-familys.html
VIDEO REVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnbY18zUxko

Honorable Mentions:
Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen Weisse Ale
Brown's Whiskey Barrel Aged Porter
Chimay White
Fort Collins Chocolate Stout
Goose Island Oatmeal Stout
He'Brew Messiah Bold
Keegan Ales Mother's Milk
Magic Hat #9
Magic Hat Circus Boy
Magic Hat Odd Notion Winter 2008 Braggot 
Magic Hat Odd Notion Fall 2009 Belgian Chocolate Stout
Rogue Shakespeare Stout
Rogue Yellow Snow IPA
Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse Ale
Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
Stone IPA

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