The Best Craft Beer

The Best Craft Beer Of 2017: Does It Get Any Better?

What a year! 2017 went by too quickly but I am thankful to have gotten to try a lot of great craft beer along the way. As you may know, I compile a Best Craft Beer list each month to highlight what I liked most from that month. To wrap up the year, I’ve taken stock of those lists and made my Best Craft Beer Of 2017 list.

When making this list, I looked at each month and pulled out any standouts. From there, I started to make cuts until I was left with the best of the best.

This process took my list down to 15 which I think is a reasonable number considering the number I had to choose from.

This wasn’t easy but I think I came up with a great list of craft beers that I won’t forget anytime soon. These are not ranked as that would have been almost impossible.


The Best Craft Beer Of 2017

CBS

Canadian Breakfast StoutBrewery: Founders Brewing – Grand Rapids, MI

Style: Barrel-Aged Stout

ABV: 11.7%      IBU: N/A

Description

Canadian Breakfast Stout is an Imperial Stout brewed with a blend of coffees and imported chocolates, then aged in spent bourbon barrels that have most recently been aging pure Michigan maple syrup.

Why it made the list?

Simple, it lived up to the hype.

Founders waited 6 years between releases of this beer and the craft beer community was eager to get it. This great brewery didn’t let us down.

This big stout is sweet, rich and finishes with a touch of bourbon. I recommend sharing it as it’s a hefty beer to drink on your own.


Hazy Jane

BewDog Hazy JaneBrewery: BrewDog – Columbus, OH

Style: New England IPA

ABV: 7.2%      IBU: 30

Description

Hazy Jane is a Vermont style IPA, with low background bitterness, loaded with intense juicy fruit character. Pineapple, stonefruit, mango, light resin and hints of lime peel – this juicy IPA is full-bodied and smooth, enhancing the soft ripe fruit flavours.

Why it made the list?

If you want the full details, read my Spotlight on Hazy Jane.

But here’s the short version. New England IPAs are typically hard to get. So when a large brewery mass produces one, I get skeptical.

But BrewDog delivered a beer that was true to style that you didn’t have to line up to get. That’s impressive!


Backwoods Bastard

Founders Backwoods BastardBrewery: Founders Brewing – Grand Rapids, MI

Style: Barrel-aged Scotch Ale

ABV: 11.2%      IBU: 50

Description

Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.

Why it made the list?

Here’s another beer that I wrote a Spotlight about because I always look forward to drinking it.

I think it’s often overlooked when compared to the other barrel-aged beers by Founders.

And in Spring of 2018, it will be available year round. That’s great news for those that have been claiming its greatness for years.


Belgian Mosaic Anomaly

best craft beer of 2017

Brewery: Darkness Brewing – Bellvue, KY

Style: Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale

ABV: 5.2%      IBU: 20

Description

A single hopped black ale featuring Mosaic hops and Belgian yeast. The late hop additions and dry hopping create tons of flavor upfront with a clean smooth finish.

Why did it make the list?

I can’t make a list about the Best Craft Beer of 2017 and not include some local beer.

This makes the list because of how it surprised me and has stuck with me.

The fruity Belgian yeast played perfectly with the Mosaic hops and I just keep hoping that they brew this one again.

I rarely think about beer without thinking about this one. There’s something that just makes this beer stand out.


The Great Eclipse

450 North Brewing The Great EclipseBrewery: 450 North Brewing – Columbus, Indiana

Style: New England IPA

ABV: 8.21%     IBU: 30

Description

Brewed in observance of The Great American Eclipse 2017! DDH with a hefty dosage of 50/50 Citra/Mosaic to create a tropical and citrus wonderland. This is a one time only brew so enjoy it while it lasts!

Why did it make the list?

450 North Brewing has become one of my favorite breweries. They released some amazing New England IPAs last year.

The Great Eclipse was one of the best. And they released it just in time for the eclipse on August 21st.

Then they hosted a viewing party and even passed out the special glasses.

When you combine great beer with great marketing, you’ve got a winner. Read more about it here.


Bring The Hops

Listermann Brewing Bring The HopsBrewery: Listermann Brewing – Cincinnati, Ohio

Style: New England IPA

ABV: 6%     IBU: N/A

Description

NE Style IPA with Apollo, Zythos, Galaxy, Citra, and Lemondrop. Smooth Mango and Citrus, lots of Citrus Zest, Tropical Fruit mix flavors.
Turn it up! Bring the noise! This is the next beer in the HipHop series with 10% of the proceeds from this beer will be donated to Elementz Urban Youth Center

Why did it make the list?

Yes, another Cincinnati beer is on my list.

This time, it’s a New England IPA because it was by far my favorite style of 2017.

And it’s easy to say that Listermann made the best beer in this style in Cincinnati.

This one featured huge citrus aroma and tropical fruit flavor. It was soft and full. Sweet and not bitter.

Easily one of the best from them and one of the best in this style that I had in 2017.


Focal Banger

The Alchemist Focal BangerBrewery: The Alchemist – Stowe, Vermont

Style: New England IPA

ABV: 7%     IBU: 90

Description

American IPA with Citra & Mosaic hops.

Why did it make the list?

Many can’t wait to try the acclaimed Heady Topper from The Alchemist.

And I can’t blame them because that’s an amazing beer and many credit it with starting the New England IPA trend.

But I think Focal Banger is the best beer they make. And I was thrilled to be able to try in 2017.


DDH All Citra Everything

Other Half DDH All Citra EverythingBrewery: Other Half Brewing – Brooklyn, NY

Style: Imperial/Double IPA

ABV: 8.5%      IBU: N/A

Description

Our standard All Citra Everything double dry hopped with an extra dose of Citra lupulin powder

Why did it make the list?

Other Half Brewing must be doing something right, they have people waiting hours in line for the right to buy their beer.

So I am always thankful when I get to try something from them.

A friend shared with this me and (like most of their beers) it was phenomenal. Tons of juicy citrus fruit dominate the flavor and aroma.

I’m hoping I am able to enjoy more of their beer in 2018.


Strawberry Rhubarb

New Glarus Strawberry RhubarbBrewery: New Glarus Brewing – New Glarus, WI

Style: Fruit Beer

ABV: 4%     IBU: N/A

Description

Teased from the loam by the kiss of the Sun. Mom’s Strawberry Rhubarb delights are the happy memories of childhood. Diploma Master Brewer Dan employed juicy sweet Strawberries to take the barbaric wild tart fermentation of rhubarb. Escaped from the far corners of neighboring yards, local rhubarb was incorporated into the wild sour fermentation to create this drinkable dream. Bright sour and effervescent. Toast chilled cold to Bright skies, fireflies, bare feet and rhubarb pies!

Why did it make the list?

Fruit in craft beer is a good thing.

And New Glarus knows what they are doing. This one is nearly a fruit smoothie. If you get the chance, make sure you try any of their beer – especially the fruited one.

I also got to enjoy their Raspberry Tart last month and it was like drinking jam. I hope more breweries get into using fruit in this way.


Dire Wolf Yub Nub

Wolfs Ridge BrewingBrewery: Wolf’s Ridge Brewing – Columbus, OH

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

ABV: 10.4%     IBU: 50

Description

Dire Wolf infused with cinnamon and One Line Espresso

Why did it make the list?

The first beers I really loved were dark beers; so I naturally gravitate towards stouts.

During a trip to Columbus, Ohio, I found myself at Wolf’s Ridge and had to try some of the variants of Dire Wolf.

My favorite was Yub Nub. It was rich, sweet and strong. The cinnamon and coffee created the perfect balance to the strong Dire Wolf base stout. Now I need to get back there and try their food as well.


Babysitter

Magnify Brewing BabysitterBrewery: Magnify Brewing – Fairfield, NJ

Style: Session IPA

ABV: 4.2%     IBU: N/A

Description

IPA hopped intensely with Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, & Centennial hops.

Why Did It Make The List

It is rare that I get excited about trying a Session IPA but this one may have changed my viewpoint.

While most sessions seem to give up some of their flavor to achieve a low ABV, Babysitter doesn’t.

This is a hop bomb of flavor but still comes in well under 5% ABV. I was shockingly surprised and made me reconsider what a Session IPA can be.


Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy

Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten FidyBrewery: – Oskar Blues – Longmont, Colorado

Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

ABV: 12.9%    IBU: 75

Description

Aged through four seasons and from a blend of the top Bourbons around, this Ten Fidy has morphed into a monster of cranked up flavor. Espresso, burnt sugar, rich chocolate, caramel notes are now driving alongside the vanilla, oak, bourbon from the barrel and been smoothed out during maturation. Even at 12.9% (75 IBUs) it is cool and drinkable, letting each sip add more and more complexity.

Why did it make the list?

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy is an all time favorite Stout of mine. I recommend it all the time to those looking for a great Imperial Stout.

What can make a Stout even better? Age it in bourbon barrels.

Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy took what was a great stout to the next level. It’s boozy and a little “hot”. You get all the flavor of a great stout with the addition of bourbon, barrel and some extra sweetness.

If you want all the details, make sure you check out my Spotlight on this beer.


DFPF 2017

J Wakefield DFPFBrewery: J. Wakefield Brewing – Miami, Florida

Style: Berliner Weisse

ABV: 7.0%  IBU: 4

Description

Batch 2017 of our world famous Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit Florida Weisse. Rated #1 Belriner Weisse in the World by Ratebeer.com and takes the #2 spot in the World by BeerAdvocate.com.

Why did it make the list?

Early in the year, I got to visit J. Wakefield Brewing in Maimi, FL. The best beer I tried while there was their DFPF.

It’s a fruited Berliner Weisse that ranks as one of the best around. And it earns that recognition.

DFPF stands for Dragon Fruit & Passion Fruit and that is exactly what you get. There’s enough tartness to keep the sweet fruit in balance.

J. Wakefield has gotten a lot of attention in 2017 as they are releasing canned beers on a regular basis that are in high demand. So look for more great things from them in 2018.


Frootwood

Founders FrootwoodBrewery: Founders Brewing Co. – Grand Rapids, Michigan

Style: Barrel Aged Fruit Beer

ABV: 8.0%  IBU: N/A

Description

Founders took a crisp, light-bodied cherry ale and hid it away in oak barrels that have held both bourbon and maple syrup. After a lengthy stint, it emerged a changed beer, blanketed in notes of warm vanilla and earthy sweetness. The wood proves itself the star of this beer, adding depth and taming the tart cherry while the maple imposes a velvety texture that lingers for not a moment too long.

Why did it make the list?

This list has included a few other brews from Founders which makes me realize just how much I enjoy their beer.

Frootwood was another standout from them this year. It was the first release of their Barrel-Aged Series and it started the year out right.

For me, it was like a beer version of a Manhattan. Lots of sweet cherry along with bourbon. Read more about it here.


Black Note Stout

Bell's Black Note StoutBrewery: Bells Brewery – Kalamazoo, Michigan

Style: Imperial Stout

ABV: 11.2%    IBU: N/A    SRM: N/A

Description

One of the most sought-after stouts in Bell’s history, Black Note Stout blends the complex aromatics of Expedition Stout with the velvety smooth texture of Double Cream Stout and ages the combination in freshly retired oak bourbon barrels for months. The resulting harmony of flavors captures the finest features of all three components: malty notes of dark chocolate, espresso & dried fruits, all buoyed by the warmth and fragrance of the bourbon barrel. Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark

Why did it make the list?

I really can’t get enough barrel-aged beers. There’s something mesmerizing about their depth of flavor that comes from the aging process. Black Note is a great example of that.

Black Note takes on the expected bourbon barrel flavors but I also get dark fruit. Many other beers claim to have this flavor but Black Note delivers in a big way.


Wrapping Up 2017

So what do you think? Have you had any of the craft beers that made my list?

After having so many great beers, it wasn’t easy to pick which ones would make this list. And I am sure that I am missing some great ones.

I’d love to know what would make your list of the best craft beer of 2017. Let me know in the comments below or send me a message. I’ll do my best to track down any recommendations and give them a try.

What Beer Is On Your List To Try In 2018?


 

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