As mentioned in my last post, I kinda took the “year off” from documenting any and all beer-related foibles, starting around July 2014 and ending right about now. The mania hath returned. And while I don’t exactly have good notes from a year’s worth of quiet beer exploration lying around – since I didn’t take any – I do remember a few highlights from 12 months of steady, solid, stealthy beer studies:
HAANDBRYGGERIET (all) - I moved to Oslo, Norway in May 2014 and soon thereafter quit this blog. I didn’t get to tell you about how Haandbryggeriet beers, brewed in nearby Drammen, are part and parcel of every quality bar, restaurant and even grocery store across the whole of Norway. Thanks the nordic godz for that, right? It’s one of my favorite breweries anywhere, and even the low-ABV stuff you buy at the grocery store before 8pm (Humlesus, India Saison, Pale Ale) are bursting with flavor and complexity. These, plus the knockouts Norwegian Wood, Dark Force and Fyr og Flamme were my go-to beers for four months.
TIM WENDELBOE’S COFFEE RED ALE – It’s a little unfair listing this one, since I think it may only exist on draft at one beer bar in the world: The Grunnerlokka Brygghus in Oslo, which just happened to be around the corner from my apartment. What a treat it was to have big, frothing pints of it repeatedly all summer, though. It’s a classic smooth reddish/amber ale flavored with coffee from another local institution, the Tim Wendelboe’s Café, also in the Grunnerlokka neighborhood. I was skeptical at first sip, but it’s such a knockout ale that I had it every single time I went to that bar during my time in Oslo. Look for it next time you’re on Thorvald Meyers Gate.
TAHOE MOUNTAIN BREWING - “BARREL-AGED SMOKED MAIBOCK” - Wow, totally took a flyer on this one and was stunned by it, just a few weeks ago. Tahoe Mountain started up in 2012 in Tahoe City, CA. We drove by the place a couple months back but I couldn’t convince the family to let me stop there for a pint, seeing as it was, like, 1 in the afternoon. So I found this bottle at City Beer Store in San Francisco and dug in. I didn’t take “tasting notes”, but I remember thinking it was pretty much the best non-IPA beer I’d had in all of 2015 so far.
HEADLANDS BREWING - “HILL 88” - When I tired a bit of all the xtreme beer hunting I’d been doing, this became my fallback beer. I’ve probably had well over fifteen cans of it since this blog was last active. An nearly-perfect double IPA, with hopping that hurts just a little and it then smoothed out by one of the most robust, thirst-quencing citrus/pine combos I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a few double IPAs in my time. This is one of the kingpins of the style.
SANTA CLARA VALLEY BREWING - “VALLEY SURPRISE DOUBLE IPA” and HUMBOLDT BREWING - “500 BC DOUBLE IPA” - Two more Double IPAs among many tried over the last year that vaulted well above the pack. I can’t remember why, and damn it, both seem to be seasonal and hard to find, but they were amazing. Godspeed to you in finding both. I hope to get a line on some and will let you know if I do.
From here on I’ll proceed to be present-tense or nearly present-tense in my reportage. I have a few recent conquests to tell you about in forthcoming installments.