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SAVOR 2019 Top Twenty Beers

Our team (Jacob Berg, John Fleury, Greg Parnas, Mike Stein, and Bruce Webster) looked at over 200 beers, the most in SAVOR history, and picked out twenty that shouldn’t be missed. Note that we are grumpy old men who mostly care not for your underattenuated hazy IPAs, though we do seem to like high-gravity, barrel aged stouts and strong ales (and sours and lagers). These are arranged in alphabetical order by brewery, with the tables in parentheses.

Brewery, State (Table) Name Style / ABV

Allagash, ME (16) BARREL & BEAN BA Tripel / 10.1%

What they say: Barrel & Bean starts its life as our Tripel—a Belgian-style golden ale. We age that beer in bourbon barrels for just shy of two months, before blending it with cold-brewed coffee from Speckled Ax, a Maine coffee roaster. The sun-dried Ethiopian beans in the coffee are known for their stone fruit and dark berry flavors. The finished beer features rich notes of caramel, bourbon, and coffee.

Cigar City, FL (81) ACROSS THE ALLEY BA Imperial stout / 14.3%

What they say: Pronounced aromas of fudge and dark chocolate dominate the nose with a chicory-like woodiness and fresh-roasted coffee notes lingering in the background. A palate of rich chocolate, espresso and blackstrap molasses sits heavy on the tongue, giving way to the unmistakable flavor and spice of fine bourbon whiskey. It’s like eating a piece of fudge dunked in a Kentucky coffee. Collaboration with 3 Sons Brewing.

Country Boy, KY (82) LIVING PROOF: OUD BRUIN Oud Bruin / 8.5%

PAPAW’S RED BA Strong Ale / 9%

What we say: Country Boy tends to have a delicate hand even when doing some aggressive styles and I’m looking forward to seeing them really show their mettle in both of these offerings. – John Fleury

Daredevil Brewing, IN (43) FIRST NOEL OAK SMOKED BOCK Rauchbier / 6.5%

What we say: A beautifully dark and rich bock that begs the question, does this beer stand up to the smoked beers of Franconia? You be the judge! Expect a caramel roundness that helps acclimate the tongue to the pleasing smokiness in this moderately strong bock. This beer is always a daredevil for brewers, begging the question to make or not to make? Thanks be to Gambrinus that Daredevil Brewing Company did and enjoy it as its always too far and between finding a clean, well-made lager beer that has smoked malt like this out in the wild. – Mike Stein

Deschutes, OR (11) BLACK MIRROR BA Barleywine / 13%

What they say: Barleywine ale rich with notes of toffee and dried fruit, presented in darkness. 100% oak aged in Bourbon barrels for 11 months.

TEMPRANILLO FLANDERS Flanders Red / 11.7%

What they say: This Flanders Red inspired ale is refermented on Tempranillo must from Abacela Vineyards, then inoculated with wild yeast in wine barrels. Tempranillo Flanders has big wine character from the Tempranillo grapes, dried fruit, brett character, and tart, dry finish and combines several wild yeast strains to intensify the wine character and its effects on the beer, pouring a beautiful dark red garnet color with pink foam.

FirestoneWalker, CA (68) UNDERCURRANTS Fruited sour / 6.3%

What they say: Using 12- to 36- month aged Agrestic Ale as a base, to which we add 1.5lbs/gal black currants, the beer undergoes the final maturation in our French Oak “Fruiders” for an additional four months. A convergence of supple tannin and deep purple pigments, gooseberry jam, a mouth-watering acidity and earthy leather elicit notes of a beer having vinous roots.

Five Boroughs , NY (64) PILSNER Pilsner / 5%

What they say: Inspired by Czech tradition, our Pilsner is light in color and body with a clean, bitter finish. Czech Saaz hops impart soft floral and grassy aromas. This style is deceptively difficult to brew, and we’ve worked hard to perfect our take on this unassuming lager.

Fremont Brewing, WA (83) B-BOMB COCONUT EDITION BA Strong Ale / 13%

What we say: In 2015 or so DC Beer had a bottle share. There were probably 10-15 people there when cinnamon version of this was poured. As each person took a sip, a hush fell over the room. We like coconuts.  – Jake Berg

La Cumbre, NM (52) SIBERIAN SILK Baltic Porter / 9.7%

What they say: We utilized our oversized mash tun, lots of German and British malts with our house lager yeast. This black beer is all about cocoa and coffee. The extended lagering produced a smooth silky mouthfeel, and we think you’ll agree, it was well worth the wait.

Pale Fire Brewing, VA (30) RED MOLLY IRISH RED ALE Amber Ale / 5.6%

What they say: Red Molly®‘s rich character starts with a foundation of authentic Irish Ale malt. Cherry notes and a slight residual sweetness come from Crystal and Munich malts, with a touch of chocolate wheat.  A clean bitterness, courtesy of mild British hops, balances the malt complexity and results in a flavorful and refreshing pint.

What you say at 7pm on Friday: I didn’t plop down $150 to drink craft Killian’s Red!

What you say at 10pm on Friday: I really want a Killian’s right about now.

Perennial Artisan Ales, MO (38) ABRAXAS Imperial Stout / 10%

What they say: An Imperial Stout brewed with ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks. Pouring deep brown with a thick head, this beer has a complex body with a delicious lingering roastiness. Abraxas is brewed with unique ingredients intended to challenge and excite the palate.

LA COSECHA Fruited sour / 6.2%

What they say: We invited our good friend Ron Jeffries from Jolly Pumpkin down to brew a beer with us that encompasses the Missouri Peach harvest. Brewed with Vienna malt, unmalted wheat and flaked oats, this beer went through primary fermentation in stainless steel with a classic Belgian yeast strain. It was then racked into French Oak barrels with a house blend of bacteria and yeast and aged for 9 months. We then racked the mature beer onto 1500 pounds of fresh Missouri Peaches where it rested for 3 additional months, and finally was conditioned naturally in this bottle.

The Rare Barrel, CA (32) WISE GUISE Fruited sour / 5.6%

What they say: Wise Guise is a blend of Ensorcelled and our golden sour. Fermented with a variety of yeast and soured with Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, this moderately tart beer showcases flavors of candied raspberry, lemon, and orange peel.

Right Proper, DC (71) SCENICRUISER Bière de Garde / 6.7%

What we say: A unique expression of yeast and bacteria, the foeder-aged Biere de Garde with grapes is one-of-a-kind. It is nothing like the sterile lager-like examples brewed in France or the single-strain of Belgian yeast used in many commercial American examples. For the sour beer drinker, this is one of the crown jewels in the DC brewing scene. Bold enough to stand out in your mind after a few pale lagers, or ales, prior. – Mike Stein

Societe Brewing, CA (20) THE HEIRESS Pilsner / 5.3%

What we say: Societe’s take on a Czech Pilsner is the kind of beer brewers and cellar workers adore. More substantive than the average Czech Pils, this beer is 5.3% ABV and looms larger on the palate. Not just a hop delivery device, enjoy this beer for its marriage of malt, hops, soft water, and yeast. A stunner that should fit into you SAVOR lineup earlier on. – Mike Stein

Union Craft Brewing, MD (78) OLDER PRO BLACK CURRANT Fruited sour / 4.2%

What they say: Every summer we brew our Old Pro Gose to beat the heat with its light, refreshing body and lemony tartness finished with a hint of salt. Now that summer is gone we find ourselves still craving the Old Pro’s quirky charm. So, we took a portion of the summer’s last batch and aged it in beautiful oak barrels that had previously held wine and added a heaping dose of organic fruit. The result is a beer with delicate oak notes, a subtle hint of wine, bright fruit, and that signature sour and salt you’ve come to love from Old Pro.

Vista Brewing, TX (58) SEEKING SAKURA Fruited sour / 6.2%

What they say: This batch was aged in freshly-emptied wine barrels from our friends down the road at Lewis Wines in Johnson City, TX. These barrels held a red blend with 75 % Tempranillo and 25% Cabernet Savignon. We picked up the barrels just after the wine was bottled, sealed them up while still dripping with wine, and added our wort the next day.  We use house-aged, whole-cone hops and begin the fermentation process for this particular batch with the Brettanomyces bruxellensis yeast strain, known for producing those earthy Brett flavors we love so much.… fermented with sweet Bing cherries.

Wallace Brewing, ID (74) 1910 BLACK LAGER Schwartzbier / 4.9%

What they say: 1910 is amazingly light and smooth, sporting hints of coffee and a touch of dark chocolate in flavor. We accomplish this by cold steeping the dark malts for 24 hours prior to brewing and using Idaho grown pilsner malt as a base.

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