2019 was another great year in beer and the Great Raft Brewing crew got out there and put in the work, doing their research and throwing back a few. Here are some of our favorites from 2019.
Slow Pour Pilsners aren’t something that is necessarily new to me, but I haven’t had one so expertly prepared as at Bierstadt Lagerhuas. The Craft Brewers Conference was in Denver this year, and this brewery was a must-do in a city bursting at the seams with breweries. This beer takes nearly 10 minutes to prepare — and I especially appreciate their dedication to the craft with a never-ending line of thirsty brewers in town. They never once compromised the pour. It is what it is. If you want it, you will wait, and it will be worth it. To read more about slow-pour pils, click here. Next time you are at the brewery, our beertenders would be happy to pour you one.
I can’t go but a few months without pausing to recognize Grant Nuckolls here in Shreveport, LA for the beers he is seeking out and tapping in our little corner of the world. He owns and operates a burger joint, but he is consistently raising the bar and bringing unique beers to our market that we may otherwise never get to enjoy. Kriek Boon is a traditional Belgian Lambic fruit-beer made with fresh cherries. Click here to read more about what made this particular keg so special.
2019 was by far the most exciting year of my life. I got to marry my best friend, travel to unfamiliar places, and grow into a new role within the company. Along the way there were many beers consumed. In Asheville for my bachelor party we enjoyed the finest east coast offerings. On our honeymoon, my wife and I had our fair share of a Bahamian lager called Sands. While celebrating 5 years at GRB with Brunson, Andrew, and Lindsay in Washington D.C. and NYC we had world renowned sours, and some of the most crushable lagers there are. Needless to say 2019 was the year of new and exciting beer adventures for me.
The one Great Raft beer that stands out to me is the Old Mad Joy “Bob’s Birthday Cake” variant that Zak and Brunson whipped up. I had a vision of what I wanted and those guys nailed it. They took our already amazing Old Mad Joy, and added in vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs. The results were outstanding, and I was thrilled to share something that I helped create with our customers.
Outside of Great Raft, I have to say that having a Sierra Nevada pale ale at the brewery in North Carolina was an amazing experience. Their facility just outside of Asheville, NC is dubbed “Malt Disney” for a reason. To say that I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of their facility would be an understatement. If you have the chance to visit there, don’t hesitate.
Cheers to 2019 and the memories that were made.
This baby was thick and delicious sitting at just over a boozy 11%.
Where can you go wrong pairing an imperial stout with peanut butter and lactose? The nose is reminiscent of Nutter Butter bars. Hands down one of my favorite beers/breweries in Texas. When I found out we were going to finally be collaborating with them this year, I was beyond excited. This brewery is always one to never disappoint and I am always keeping my ears to the ground on what they will be coming up with next!
Before I worked here, I started just like anyone else did – I was a fan. Around 2016, I remember walking into the tasting room to try some beer from this local brewery that I had heard so much about. A buddy of mine had told me to try one of their sours. I had no idea what a sour beer even was, much less if I would even enjoy it. Needless to say, it rocked my world. The fruit-forward sourness, accented by balanced acidity from various bacteria and expressive oak – wow. This beer left it all on the field, and it’s almost a shame to drink it. It’s like killing a unicorn with, like, a bomb.
I had lots of terrific beers on California this summer, but my love of kveik yeast (a Norweigian farmhouse strain) draws me to anything on the menu that features it. Viking Space Probe is a DIPA with Ella & Citra hops and really balances with the strong funk of the kveik. Also Stone Brewing’s Napa taproom is beautiful with some friendly staff and good food!
Yes, I have the reputation here at Great Raft as the “resident haze boi” but having Surly’s Hell, one of the best lagers in the U.S. right in their tasting room blew my socks off. Right at 5% ABV, this is as balanced of a German lager as you may come across. I have a deep affinity for Minneapolis and their beer scene, and Surly holds it down on all fronts.
Is it cheating to put a beer that we’ve made on this list? Oh well. Over the past year Brunson and I would sneak out to the cellar and pull the nails out of the Pinot Noir barrels of this mixed-fermented saison. Even before we added mayhaws and peaches this beer was tasting amazing. We knew we had some gold on our hands, but I honestly hope that everyone enjoys this beer as much as we do. Great Raft has put out some amazing beers in 2019 and to cap it off with Future Self is a fitting end to the year.
The Ballad of Minnie Quay is an English Old Ale. It’s really sweet and rich. Massive undertones of caramel, oak, brandy and fig-like fruitiness. This beer is a true example of what can be done with the right combination of malts. Very impressive beer.
Song of the Whale, Finback’s collaboration with Dry & Bitter, is a cantalope New England IPA. This is possibly the most aromatic IPA I have ever had. As soon as this beer hits the glass, the room is filled with the smell of cantaloupe and grapefruit. The beer is in perfect balance and just plain inviting. This beer changed my perspective on NEIPAs and I’m still shocked at the level of aromatics they achieved with this beer.
A beer that I wouldn’t mind drinking every day for the rest of my life. Crispy boi approved with a mildly tart finish from the Brett and mixed sour cultures. Nothing aggressive but overflowing with nuance.
One of the best West Coast IPAs I’ve ever had. It has an elegant blend of pine resin from Simcoe boil additions and tropical fruit/dank hemp from the dry hop pairing of Citra and Mosaic.
Not just saying this because the team at Celestial is full of cool folks, but this is the best NE style IPA I’ve gotten a chance to to taste in 2019. Fluffy AF with all the juice characteristics from the haze bro yeast set the stage for the Idaho 7 and Vic Secret hops to dance like nobody’s watching.
A New England IPA that became the staple to me – huge citrus and tropical fruit notes right out of the gate, a very soft and creamy pillow mouthfeel and little to no perceived bitterness with an orange juice-like look, this beer changed the way I look at IPAs. This beer is the reason I pay closer attention to salt profile, whirlpool additions and a little trick called bio-transformation.
Pretty wild beer that I had late in the year. This beer is an oak-aged sour in which every iteration is slightly changed. This batch is brewed with blackberries and raspberries and bottle-conditioned with champagne yeast. It was so crazy to me how the oak still shined through after the fruiting. The carbonation from the champagne yeast left it so bright and balanced the acidity perfectly with a pleasantly wet mouthfeel.
These are just a handful of the stand-out beers we loved this year. We are looking forward to trying even more incredible beers from our brewing brethren in 2020. Cheers to the new year!