The “best of” lists are just starting to hit newsstands everywhere, with every category you can think of. But can one’s best of 2009 list ever encompass everything great and drinkable from the last year? Probably not. That won’t stop us from campaigning for our much-loved beers here, though. After some contemplation and a lot of sampling, here are ten beers that took 2009 by storm and packed the calendar with twelve full months of drinking enjoyment.
Belgian IPA / 8.3% ABV
Andrew – This fairly new approach of combing two popular styles is represented best here with Flying Dog’s 20 Anniversary Belgian IPA. The Belgian yeast works quite well with the citrus and floral notes of the Amarillo hops. For me, this is one of the few beers that lived up to its twitterverse hype.
Spotted at: Â Arrow Wine, 4508 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA
Saison/Farmhouse Ale / 6.5% ABV
Deverie – Released in July of this year, this ale is brewed with Sorachi hops that were developed in Japan and grown in Oregon. Lemony, clean, and floral. Unfiltered and beautifully golden. An amazing summer beer.
Spotted at: Brickskeller, upstairs on draught.
Brew Free or Die IPA
21st Amendment Brewery
IPA / 7% ABV
Mike – I used to make it a point to visit 21st Amendment Brewpub whenever I was in San Francisco even when I couldn’t convince anyone to join me. Their IPA was out of this world and when I saw they started canning it and shipping it to our side of the world I was pretty excited. Possibly one of my favorite craft beer moments of 2009 was seeing it on shelves at DeVinos and Wholefoods and seeing Black Squirrel put it on draft!
Spotted at: DeVinos and Wholefoods P Street, The Black Squirrel
Treblehook Barley Wine Ale, 2009 Limited Release
Barley Wine / 10.1% ABV
Deverie – Poured from a beautiful frosted bottle, this ale is the color of old, worn pennies. In your mouth, it is smooth and sumptuous caramel, toffee, hops, and chocolate. The hops are definitely there, but they seem to be waving at you from afar, making sure that the finish is perfect like an Almond Roca, but just a tad less sweet. Brewer Doug McNair really got it right with this one.
Spotted at: Whole Foods, 1440 P Street NW, Washington DC
Brewdog Ltd. / Stone Brewing Company
Black IPA / 8.6% ABV
Mike – I first sampled this beer at Churchkey with George from DeVinos. When you first bring the snifter up to your face all you smell is liquid hops. The flavor continues the theme of straight syrupy hop extract goodness but the after taste is actually all roast malt bitterness. Its huge Cascade hop profile does a good job hiding its 8.6% ABV, but unfortunately that means after a few of these, it’s time to go home.
Spotted at: Pizzeria Paradiso, Churchkey, DeVinos
Heavy Seas – Big DIPA
American Double / Imperial IPA / 10.60% ABV
Andrew – At 10.6 % ABV this is one the biggest beers Clipper City produces. This beer makes my list for its freshness and great presentation of one of my favorite styles. I’m glad this one was just a seasonal. I felt like I was cheating on my Clipper City favorite, Loose Cannon, while enjoying the Big DIPA.
Spotted at: Rustico, and Rick’s Wine and Gourmet / Alexandria, VA
21st Amendment Brewery
Belgian Style Dark Ale / 8.3% ABV
Deverie – Monk’s Blood is the first release in 21st Amendments Insurrection Series and if this is any indicator of the series as a whole, we are in for a treat. Figgy, faintly nutty and malty, this dark reddish beer is a pleasing combination of sweetness and spice. Lighter mouthfeel and slightly bitter finish. Great winter beer.
Spotted at: Several DC locations, including Churchkey (on draught) and Whole Foods (cans).
American Strong Ale / 8.9% ABV
Andrew – I love how balanced this beer is. The dark malts are there, but never over the bitterness. Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA is going to do many more great things in 2010.
Spotted at: Â Planet Wine, 2000 Mount Vernon Avenue Alexandria, VA
Double India Pale Ale / 8.5% ABV
Deverie – This special edition ale from Avery is definitely my favorite of 2009. It was released in October and didn’t stick around DC long enough for my liking. They describe it as Lupulin Rapture Incarnate, and I couldn’t agree more. Grapefruit and piney-ness come through in this golden colored ale – a perfect example of a west coast double IPA, with a hoppiness that will satisfy any hophead’s cravings.
Spotted at: Churchkey, The Big Hunt
AlphaDog Imperial IPA
Laughing Dog Brewing
Imperial IPA / 8% ABV
Deverie – IBU’s of pure hop delight. Columbus and Mount Hood hops blend with just a touch of malts for a dark gold pour. So far, I have only seen this in bombers, and have savored all twenty two ounces. Just the right touch of citrus and carbonation makes this a very enjoyable beer.
Spotted at: Whole Foods, 1440 P Street NW, Washington, DC