Beer of the Weekend @ 8

Another BotW year has passed and it is once again time to admire and assess the last year in beer.

It was not a banner year — nothing momentous or noteworthy stands out — but it was tasty, as usual. Many more breweries started distributing in Iowa in 2015-16, offering an even greater selection on Hawkeye State beer shelves. Every once in a while, Zee German asks me if I am running out of beers to try. Ha! I have not even scratched the surface. However, a greater selection makes picking a beer each weekend that much harder. I’m not going to complain, but I can only drink so much. I get the sense that I am forever falling behind on my liquid research so another beer-a-day month may be in order.

I have also had the desire to do the complete opposite: not review beer for a month or more. Frankly, I am burned out. I have gotten that way over the past year and have reached the point where beer doesn’t excite me anymore. I want to and gladly drink it, but it doesn’t tickle my inner nerd the way it used to. Most of the beers I drink are humdrum imitations of one another. Either I am losing my ability to pick out flavors and aromas or all the beers are starting to taste the same. Or maybe I have tried so many that none of them seem different. It once was exciting to try new styles, but now I’ve been there and tried that. Many extreme beers with crazy ingredients do not interest me. I want to drink good, solid brew — not assault my taste buds. There is a place for extreme, experimental beers and I will admit that I do not try enough of them. Perhaps breaking out of my comfort zone is a cure for my growing apathy. Maybe I need to add some spice to my beer choices — sometimes literally.

One thing I have decided to do this year is start homebrewing. It’s time. Perhaps a foray into brewing will reignite the enthusiasm and deep interest I felt in the past. However, will I have the time to do it right? It would need to be a weekend endeavor because I have a lot of other stuff going on during the week. Homebrewing has the potential to not only teach me a lot about beer itself and the art of making it — knowledge that will no doubt be helpful when writing about beer — but could eventually serve as a professional gateway. It’s just a thought, but the brewing industry may be a good fit for me. Plus, I have a DIY desire to learn a new and useful skill, something that will benefit myself and those I know. My great-grandfather made wine and my grandfather made cheese, so it seems natural that I make beer.

Here’s the list of beers reviewed over the last year:

#671: Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler (C+)
#672: Anchor Saison (B+)
#673: Downtown Throwdown (B+)
#674: Anna Belle’s India Pale Ale (A-)
#675: Astra Grapefruit Radler (B)
#676: Rauchbier (B)
#677: Cardinal Pale Ale (B)
#678: The Crisp (B+)
#679: 60 Minute IPA (B+/A-)
#680: Hannah (B)
#681: Nightfall Lager (B)
#682: Beatnik Sour (B)
#683: Equinox (A)
#684: Fresh Start (B)
#685: Hopvale Organic Ale (B)
#686: All Hands on Deck (B+)
#687: Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale (B/B+)
#688: Strawberry Picnic Summer Ale (B/B+)
#689: Yazoo Pale Ale (B)
#690: Hot Mess (A-)
#691: Woolly Bugger (B)
#692: Uranus–The Magician (A-)
#693: Hoppelganger (B)
#694: Whitewater (B)
#695: Dubbel Night Vision (B-)
#696: The Randonneur (B)
#697: Lynnbrook Raspberry Sour Ale (C-*)
#698: Kalona Classic (C)
#699: Colette (A-)
#700: HopFest United IPA (B)
#701: Weiss Grip (B-)
#702: Lakefire Rye Pale Ale (B-)
#703: Heart O’ Texas (B)
#704: The Lawn Ranger Cream Ale (B-)
#705: El Chingón (B)
#706: Slow Ride (B-)
#707: Limber Legs (B)
#708: Left Hand Oktoberfest Märzen Lager (B-)
#709: Pine Belt Pale Ale (B-)
#710: London Homesick Ale (C+)
#711: Dallas Blonde (A-)
#712: Local Buzz (B+)
#713: Ridgeback Ale (B)
#714: Tulsa Rugby Ale (A)
#715: Power & Light Pale Ale (C)
#716: Schlafly Tasmanian IPA (B+/A-)
#717: Yabba Dhabha Chai Tea Porter (A-)
#718: Rootstock (C+)
#719: Ommegang Scythe & Sickle (A-)
#720: St. Pauli Girl (C)
#721: Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer (A-)
#722: Ballast Point Sculpin (B+)
#723: Ommegang Lovely, Dark and Deep (B-)
#724: Zipline American Tripel (B+)
#725: Sixpoint Sweet Action (B+)
#726: Snow & Tell (C+)
#727: Ballast Point Grunion (B+)
#728: Gandy Dancer Porter (C+/B-)
#729: Snake Hollow IPA (B)
#730: Kalona Junior (A)
#731: Kalona Transporter (B+/A-)
#732: Exile Daytrotter Pale Ale (C)
#733: Exile Grapefruit Sting IPA (C+)
#734: Kalona Coconut Abbey (C+)
#735: Ballast Point Longfin Lager (B+/A-)
#736: Polygamy Nitro Porter (B-)
#737: Ballast Point Big Eye (A-)
#738: Ballast Point Victory at Sea (B+/A-)
#739: Deschutes Pinedrops IPA (B)
#740: Molotov Lite (B)
#741: Free State Oatmeal Stout (B+)
#742: New Beligum Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Brownie (B)
#743: Anchor Christmas Ale 2015 (B+)
#744: Sláinte Scottish Style Ale (B)
#745: Sixpoint Global Warmer (B+)
#746: Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm (B+/A-)
#747: Satin Solitude Imperial Stout (B-)
#748: Surly Darkness (A-)
#749: Kilt Kicker (B+/A-)
#750: Claymore Scotch Ale (B+)
#751: Lone Star (C+)
#752: Toppling Goliath Smoove Opferator (A-)
#753: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tropical IPA 2016 (B)
#754: Jackie Brown (C+)
#755: Toppling Goliath Pompeii (A)
#756: Otra Vez (B-)
#757: Toppling Goliath 1492 (B)
#758: Ellie’s Brown Ale (B-)
#759: Flagstaff IPA (B+)
#760: Sanitas Black IPA (B+)
#761: AleSmith IPA (B+)
#762: Naja Imperial Red IPA (B+)
#763: Man Beer (B+)
#764: Finkel & Garf Rye Saison (B+)
#765: Liquid Mechanics Amber Altbier (B+/A-)
#766: Colorado Kölsch (C+)

The Primo Island Lager BotW@8 Worst Beer Award: Rootstock. Though it did not receive the lowest grade this past year (I gave way too many points for the effort), Rootstock was hard to drink. My connections at the Co-op told me they could not even give it away. That is the sign of a truly bad beer.

“It’s Just a Little Taste of Heaven” BotW@8 Best Beer Award: Toppling Goliath Pompeii. Pompeii is a phenomenal beer. It may not be that unique, but I love a good tropical IPA and Pompeii is the quintessential example of the style. Wooo! Outstanding stuff!

BotW@8 Ultimate Six-pack: Equinox, Dallas Blonde, Yabba Dhabha Chai Tea Porter, Surly Darkness, Toppling Goliath Smoove Opferator, and Toppling Goliath Pompeii.

(The photo at the top is a self-portrait taken the last night at my old house. I specifically left the one Adirondack chair as the last piece of furniture so I could crack open a PBR and enjoy one last evening on the spacious front porch.)

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