2012 has come and gone. It’s that time of the year when people have their top beers or top events or whatnot. Last year I did a “most memorable beers” to try and do something different. This year I tried so many different beers and I honestly love beer too much to sit here and give you my opinion of which were the best I had this year. I will however bore you with no shame on things that stood out to me the past year.
2011 saw some new breweries take front stage as some of the better new breweries in the world. Hill Farmstead likely topped that list and is the standout brewery that made it to the forefront of beer geek treks, and rightfully so. This year alone I made the 5+ hour voyage twice (not much compared to some other beer lovers out there). 2012 however, saw a few breweries put a stamp on their legitimacy. Locally, here in NJ (as I referenced in my last post) Carton and Kane both asserted themselves as the top breweries in NJ. Both breweries had their first year anniversaries this year and both show no signs of slowing down. Other breweries across the country had similar years. During my trip to GABF, I fell in love with Crooked Stave in Denver; so much so, that I signed up for their second year of the Cellar Reserve Membership. Funkwerks in Fort Collins, CO also stepped up as one of the newer breweries that are likely here to stay. While far on the West Coast, David Logsdon (formerly of Wyeast) really put out some amazing beers with his new brewery Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales. With Crooked Stave, Funkwerks and Logsdon you see the rise in Farmhouse/Funk/Wild/Brett focused breweries shining in the industry. A personal favorite style that got more recognition this year was the Berliner Weiss. Funky Buddha down in Boca Raton Florida celebrated their 2nd anniversary and have really brought the Berliner Weiss to another level. The aforementioned Carton brewing in NJ also had two phenomenal takes on this style. The Highlander Weiss was tart and refreshing and Monkey Chased the Weasel (with mulberries) was a personal favorite. These low ABV styles may be a trend to look for in the coming year.
On a personal note, 2012 ended with the fruition of Queen of Hops in November. It was my favorite project to date, I got to work with some great people and feel like it was a success. I plan on more craft-beer-centric projects this year to go along with round 2 of QOH.
Also, El Salvador (the country where I was born) now has it’s first craft brewery in Brew Revolution! Owner/Brewer Andy Newbom is a really cool dude that moved down to El Salvador to introduce craft beer to a country that has had a rough history.
One of my favorite things that happened this year was the big blow to the black market craft beer sales. EBay had long been the source of black market craft beer. With prices soaring, bottles being hoarded and beers not in their prime, the craft beer trading community had a huge scarlet letter on it. While many were pushing for this to stop, I credit Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead for the biggest push to end this. Sure, some sales are still happening on other sites, and there are some things that have snuck in on EBay under the guise of collectibles (see Westy 12), but the action received by EBay was a big win for craft brewers.
Looking forward, in 2013 you can expect more features in the media covering craft beer. I look forward to seeing more people pushing to drink local beer. I also expect to see craft beer gain more respect in the culinary world as a more than suitable alternative to wine. Locally, I’m excited to see what Rushing Duck does in it’s first full year. Even more local (as in here in NJ), I cannot wait to see my friend Bob Olson’s brewery, Bolero Snort, take off. As Draft Magazine points out, Night Shift Brewing in MA, DESTIHL from IL (who was all the buzz at GABF) and Tired Hands in PA are other breweries to keep an eye on in the coming months.
All in all 2012 was a great year for Craft Beer. I could tell you how certain things need to stop. I could tell you my resolutions. Instead, I will just say go out there and drink what you want and support this amazing community as we continue to grow.