Love Is (Finally) In The Air: Our Favorite Beers of 2017

summer beers

It took us awhile, but only because we wanted to make sure to get it right. Here are all of our favorite beers of 2017.

We thought long and hard about this, and after six weeks of near-constant consideration, measuring, grading, scaling, and a few heated disagreements, we’ve come up with our respective favorite beers of 2017.

We write about and review plenty of beers here — but we sample many more over the course of a calendar year. Nearly none of them get any level of visibility from us. Some we love, others disappoint. But overall, the best beers of 2017 are a mix of successful experiments, longtime favorites and just great beers that we had at just the right time (be it vacation, with friends and family, celebrating a milestone, etc).

Here now, on this Valentine’s Day, we put a pin in the many beers of last year with a look back at what truly stands out — our most-loved, favorite, top beers of 2017 in no particular order.

Ryan:

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, 2006

Patience certainly paid off with this more than 10-year-old pour of Goose Island’s venerable Bourbon County Stout. Spilling out charcoal black from the bottle, an ’06 Bourbon County Stout carried faint scents of vanilla, fresh-sanded wood, soy sauce and brine.
A stemmed cherry atop vanilla bean ice cream opens the flavor gates followed by cocoa powder, a bit more vanilla, and black licorice — all leading to a creamy finish, a lengthy tail and a sufficient bourbon burn. The flavors hadn’t diminished much from a decade in the bottle with strong notes of chocolate and vanilla, little oxidation and still plenty of alcohol notes.

Old Nation Greenstone

A small brewery in Williamston, Mich (just outside of East Lansing) took the state by storm in 2017 with M-43, arguably the pinnacle of hazy IPAs in this state. However, it was the least juiciest of the bunch that carried me through the summer months. Greenstone is equally as hazy as M-43, however its hop profile bends slightly away from juicy with bits of rind and an herbal hoppiness. Dry-hopping gives it a more of a traditional IPA-ish scent too, despite the cloudy appearance, and carries a bit more bitterness.

summer beers

TIE: Dovetail Lager and Territorial Brewing Battle Creek Lager

Same style, but very different beers. Dovetail’s Lager is crisp and yeasty and biscuity and grainy with a subtle apple sweetness. Territorial’s Battle Creek Lager on the other hand carried the same crispness but was slightly drying with an underlying honey sweetness and an herbal and slightly spicy hop-bite on the finish. Both are equally fantastic and, sadly, more than an hours drive for a growler fill (sigh).

Steve:

More Brewing: Henna (Batch 1 – Double Rainbow)

Talk about setting the bar high. When Shaun Berns was let loose to experiment at the RAM Brewery in Schaumburg, he had folks driving from across the Midwest for his releases. Henna – a Neapolitan stout – was the first of his stouts as head brewer at this brand-new Villa Park brewery. And it was mind blowing.

With all due respect to the other Neapolitan stouts out there, it was unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Chocolate covered strawberries with a vanilla lacing? Sure. Strawberry and vanilla ice cream with a swirl of chocolate? Yep. Just amazing. A clear favorite of 2017, it’s scary to think of how good this 11.8% imperial stout is going to be with a little aging.

 

 

 

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