Yes, that’s right, it’s time for the third and final installment of my Top 25 Breweries to Check out at GABF. Just in case you missed the first two installments, click here for part one (first 10 choices) and here for part two (next 8 choices).
My final 7 choices begin now, and remember, these are in no particular order.
Flossmoor Station – When I think of Chicago area breweries I immediately think of Goose Island, Three Floyds and Flossmoor Station. Oddly though, I have never had a single beer from FS. I know them only by reputation. Since they are technically a brew pub, they utilize their smaller scale and constantly experiment, more often than not, with positive results. If I were going to GABF, I would be strongly inclined to check them off my list.
Stewart’s Brewing Co. – These guys are from Bear, DE which really isn’t that far outside of Philly, but oddly they don’t have a very strong distribution in the area (at least they didn’t when I lived there). If things haven’t changed in a big way, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a decent amount of Northeast residents that are unfamiliar with Stewart’s completely. They are extremely low-key to say the least. I remember seeing them at some of my first ever beer fests in PA like Kennett Brewfest and Philly Craft Beer Fest and wondering who they were and where they came from. Quite a few festivals came and went before I actually was brave enough to try their product and, once I did, I was appalled that I had missed out on so many opportunities. From then on I never passed them by, and was never once disappointed.
Odell Brewing Co. – It wasn’t until Odell started their Woodcut Series back in ’08 that my radar picked these guys up. This past May saw the 4th release in the line, an oak aged lager. All four have a 96 or higher on ratebeer.com. From what I understand, their standard offerings are pretty darn solid as well, especially the IPA. Working with wood, a lot of hops, brett…these guys might be on the trend train, but I want on board.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – You know that other massive American-based brew fest, The World Beer Cup? Yeah well it’s huge and Firestone Walker has won the Champion Mid-sized Brewery three times now. As far as I know, that’s unprecedented. It’s quite clear, these guys are one of the best around when it comes to making beer. Union Jack is probably my favorite single IPA in the world. Double Jack is easily in my top 5 favorite double IPAs in the world. Abacus is very possibly my favorite all time barleywine. Their anniversary beers are outstanding, Parabola, I mean come on… If I didn’t put these guys on the list somewhere I would have to kick my own ass.
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. – I would imagine that there is a few of you out there that read Draft Magazine. You know, the Playboy of beer. Beer porn. Anyway, do you know the section called “What’s In a Name?” That is where I first heard of FiftyFifty. Though I can’t exactly recall the details of the story, I remember being intrigued. I also liked the imagery and design that they evoked through their labels and website. As it turns out, they make a killer imperial stout, or so I gather. It’s a 100 on ratebeer.com and it won bronze at last years GABF in the “Other Strong Beer” category. Obviously, Timperial Stout wants to take a stab at this one.
Ballast Point Brewing Co. – The San Diego beer scene is a force to be reckoned with. Stone, Green Flash, Alesmith, Port/Lost Abbey/Pizza Port, Alpine, Coronado…I’m out of breath. All of these breweries make amazing beer and It’s really impossible to dispute that. If you were to fish for one thing that seems to tie all of these breweries together, it would be hops. Every one of these breweries, with the exception of the Belgian style based Lost Abbey (but Tomme’s other labels pick up the slack there), make stellar IPAs. Ballast Point makes at least three and each is more stunning than the last. If you find yourself in dire need of a little IBU boost at GABF, take a gander at BPB’s booth and see if Sculpin is a flowin’.
AleSmith Brewing Co. – I shudder a little bit when I think about Alesmith, in the very best way possible. I love this brewery so much. I wish everyday that Seattle would distribute their product, though all it really takes is a trip to Portland for purposes of stocking-up. I love Alesmith so much because I very passionately enjoy a lot of their beers. I’ll never forget the first time I tried, well, most of the beers that I’ve tried by them. The IPA is, like I said above, from San Diego. There’s just something special about those SD IPAs. Horny Devil is so perfectly Belgian with its fantastic sweetness and remarkably balanced spiciness. Old Numbskull is all that you could ever ask for in a barleywine. And Speedway Stout my friends…to drink Speedway Stout is to have a religious experience. I can tell you that there was a large period of time when I was very quick to answer any brave soul willing to ask me what my number 1 favorite beer of all time was with, Speedway Stout. Now I’m a bit more cautious to answer that question but, if I was forced to at gun point, my answer would be Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Possibly if I were to get a hold of the barrel aged version of Speedway, that answer would be different.
Well that about covers it. If you are going to GABF this week, damn you, I am super jealous. Please do your very best to enjoy each and every minute of it. Visit the breweries that you know and love, but also visit the breweries that you have always wanted to try but couldn’t for whatever reason. I am very hopeful that my musings can be found valuable to you in some way. If you have other suggestions for our readers, please do not hesitate to post a comment. If you end up checking out a brewery that I recommended and you have an opinion on their product, good or bad, let us know. Safe travels to you all.
The moment you have all been waiting for……
Monday, March 8, 2010
Beer U: Homebrewing Event: Escondido, California
7:00PM-9:00PM @ Stone Brewing Co.
Home brewing, any beer enthusiast can do it. Its fun and rewarding all at the same time. Join Ken Wright and Jacob McKean for a live brewing demonstration and some tasty homebrew samples! Tickets are $20 and are available at the Stone Company Store or online here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/99122
Great Lakes Brewing Enters A New Market: Greensboro, North Carolina
8:00PM-10:00PM @ The Pour House
We wish there was an event like this in Seattle which would indicate that Great Lakes Brewing is being distributed to Seattle. BUT its not, so lets get back to reality. However the lucky cities of Charlotte/Greenboro NC will experience all that Great Lakes Brewing Company has to offer. Visit The Pour House to meet GLBC reps and sample GLBC’s five year round beers: Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry India Pale Ale, Dortmunder Gold Lager, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Eliot Ness Amber Lager!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Allagash Night: Brunswick, Maine
7:00PM- 12:00 AM @ The Lion’s Pride
Allagash is known for its perfection of the Belgium styled beers, so here is your chance to try lots of limited Allagash beers on tap. This is part of the Lion’s Pride Belgian Festival week along and Allagash will be featured with other great Belgian beers.
Oatmeal Stout Night: Brooklyn, New York
6:00PM-10:00PM @ Bar Great Harry
Come taste stouts that have been aged in-house at Bar Great Harry. Before the weather turns warmer, indulge in these tasty brews: Sixpoint Otis, CASK Blue Point Oatmeal Stout, Mcneil’s Oatmeal Stout, Anderson Valley Barney Flats, Young’s Oatmeal Stout, Wolaver’s Organic Oatmeal Stout, Goose Island Oatmeal Stout.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 (the day Beer Blotter leaves for Belgium)
Victory Beer Sampling: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6:00 PM-8:00PM @ Hawthornes
A FREE sampling of Victory Brewing company. As always these fine beers will be paired with a specific cheese.
Brewers Night with Black Raven Brewing Co.: Bellingham, Washington
6:00PM-9:00PM @ The Green Frog Cafe
Black Raven Brewing Co., known for their amazing IPAs (Single IPA-Trickster and Double IPA- Wisdomseeker) is heading North from Redmond to Bellingham to sample their beers and give away schwag.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Cigar City Pre-release Party: Bradenton, Florida
7:00PM-9:30PM @ Lost Kangaroo Pub
Tonight marks the eve of the official release of the Hunapu bottle release and there are some very special Cigar City beers on tap and in bottles. Hunapu, Jai Alai IPA, Bolita Double Nut Brown Ale and Olde Ale will all be on tap and paired with cheese.
Brewery Ommegang Tasting: New York, New York
7:00PM-10:00PM @ Shorty’s
Ken Erdogan from Brewery Ommegang will be at Shorty’s tonight, as will as at least six of his fantastic Ommegang brews. In the line up will be Abbey Ale, Hennpin, Witte, Rare Vos and a couple surprises. Come by for $10 flights (4-6oz glasses) of your favorite beers.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Downtown St. Paddy’s Day Dash: Youngstown, Ohio
5:00PM-2:30AM @ Rust Belt Brewing Co.
Kick off is at 5pm at the B&O Station 530 Mahoning Ave. Then, two 55 passenger luxury buses will arrive at 7pm to take you and around Downtown Youngstown in search of 6 mystery leprechauns who will be giving out gold coins (plastic coins provided by Amscan on New York) those who collect 5 coins will receive a free Downtown Dash 2010 St. Paddy’s t-shirt. NOTE: Registration begins at 5pm, the cost is $2 with a non perishable donation to Gleaners Food Bank of Youngstown and $5 with out donation. All proceeds will go to Gleaners Youngstown Food Bank.
Berkshire Brewing Co.: South Deerfield, Massachusetts
6:00PM-9:00PM @ Chandler’s Tavern
Featuring the Berkshire Brewing Company’s handcrafted ales. The evening starts at Berkshire Brewing Company at 6:00 with an hour tour of the brewery followed by a four course dinner at Chandler’s Restaurant.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Kona Brewer’s Festival: Kona, Hawaii
2:30PM-6:30PM @ Kona Brewing Co.
Enjoy amazing beers and a stellar view at the 15th Annual Kona Brewer’s Festival. Headliners include, Jolly Pumpkin, Great Divide, Ballast Point Brewing Co., and so many more. From Oregon to Hawaii come celebrate craft brewing in the USA!
Russian River Tapping: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (this is the hot city of the week)
12:00PM- 12:00 AM @ Tria
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Fire and Ice Brunch with Glacier Brewing Co.: Anchorage, Alaska
6:00PM-9:00PM @ Firetap Alehouse
This beer and food pairing with Glacier Brewing Co. is $50.00/person. To make reservations call (the area code in Ancorage, AK plus) 561-2337. Food items include: succulent prawns in a spring roll wrapper, crisped with herbs and spices. Served with Tabboulah salad blended with Red Hot Mama and chile infused olive oil; tender short ribs slow cooked with star anise, brushed with a Jim Bean/hoisin glaze- paired with IPAs, Red Hot Mama and more!
Los Angeles St. Patrick’s Day Festival: Los Angeles, California
2:00PM- 7:00PM @ Taglyan Complex
Ballast Point Brewing Company–Firestone DBA (Double Barrel)- New Belgium Brewing Company-and a bunch of liquors for you non-beer drinkers. We wanted to mention this event, because this is a rare occurrence, a beer event in LA.
So that is it- start priming your liver for St. Paddy’s Day, as we prime our livers for Belgium. We hope to report while abroad but will be subject to internet access, so no promises. There will be plenty of materials upon our return! But check back this week, as we are working hard to get as many posts up as possible. Thanks for the support and if you go to an event, see a sign for an event, know someone who was thinking about going to an event, let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!