This past year has been a whirlwind: From global politics to technological innovation to entertainment news, things moved fast and furious throughout 2017.
But despite whatever bad news befell us, we always had one time-tested consolation prize: beer.
With so many new beers in 2017 — and new iterations every week — it is tough to choose the best from the last 12 months. But I’m going to try. As a caveat, what follows is limited to what I’ve had, and what I remember ... and I haven’t found a disagreeable style yet. From DIPAs and Flemish Reds to Rauchbiers and Goses, there are many to choose from. I limited myself to three.
To reiterate, this was a very difficult decision to make, especially considering new beers like Firestone Walker’s “Leo versus Ursus” series, Brown’s Mango Passionfruit Sour, Brooklyn sours (“Cloaking Device” and “Kiwi’s Playhouse”), plus astounding liquid I stumbled upon in Newfoundland and Montreal.
In the end, though, one of my favorites this year is an IPA I first tried at Stockdale’s — one of the best beer-focused bars in Central New York. Omnipollo “Shploing!!” hails from Stockholm, and comes in a bright, fluorescent-colored, volcano-plastered can, along with a bunch of ingredients that will have you shaking your head. (I’m still not sure if the ingredients are a brewer’s inside joke because you thankfully don’t taste them.) Weird name and can, even weirder ingredient claims, but this is an outstanding fruit-forward IPA with nice malt sweetness to balance big tropical hops.
Another IPA, but of the wild yeast variety, is a rare brew I came across by pure good fortune. In fact, it may have shown up accidently, (but “unfortunately” got tapped before the error could be remedied). Nevertheless, this Brett (Brettanomyces) IPA called “MoBretta” from Ithaca Brewing was amazing. One sip and I was brought back to the legendary Brett IPA Ithaca collaboration known as “Superfriends.” “MoBretta,” however, was more tropical fruit forward, less dry, and a touch tarter. Sometimes with transcendental beer, you have to be at the right place at the right time. Ithaca, and their former Saranac brewer Andy, knocked this one over the fence and into the river.
Speaking of Saranac … the hits keep coming. Scott, the pilot brewer, continues to put the brewery back on the map for beer-hunters out there. With so many outstanding creations, it is hard to choose one, but here goes: Saranac “Patters Brett.” This interpretation of a monk’s table beer, also dosed with a Brett culture and combined with the legendary Westvleteren yeast strain, provides light tart fruit character around the edges, and an exceptionally straw-colored, bready, balanced brew perfect for a hot summer day. Here’s to 2018!
This week’s recommendation: Any of the aforementioned beers will take your palate to a very good place, so don’t sleep on the chance to try a pilot beer from any good brewery.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, New York.