2020 sure didn’t turn out the way we expected, but that didn’t stop our team from drinking plenty of amazing beers along the way. Here are a few members of the Great Raft family sharing their top pick for their favorite beer of the year.
A fresh 2×4 Double IPA from Melvin Brewing after a hike around Jenny Lake was my favorite beer of the year. The Grand Tetons in Wyoming are incredible. After a few mile hike in, Lindsay and I crushed a few overlooking Jenny Lake while taking in the view and appreciating how incredible this part of the country really is.
My Favorite Beer of the Year has to be Rail Pass. by Bingo Beer Co. out of Richmond, Virginia. This beer impressed me as being the most well-done traditional German Pilsener I have had in a very long time, even beating out the imported Pilseners I regularly get my hands on.
I decided to explore a new brewery when visiting my parents in Houston this year and ended up at True Anomaly Brewing Company. With everything from foeder-aged sours to dry-hopped pilsners, I was stoked to bring back one of my favorite styles of beer – a grissette (low-ABV saison). Liberty Bell 7 is a six month foeder-aged grissette that was aged on lemongrass and dry-hopped with Lemondrop hops. After getting over the original tartness, you’re left with a crisp petite saison that has a funky finish and great natural lemon flavors throughout. This was my Thanksgiving dinner beer and an excellent example of one of my favorite beer styles.
A DIPA? When at Jester King, one of the kings of farmhouse ales? Yes, everything I had at Jester King was excellent but I was not expecting to arrive at their beautiful farm in time for the secret release of Deinos Kynos. Certainly my favorite label design of the year, this beer also exemplifies IPAs made with Norweigien kveik yeast which is one of my favorite beer styles. Dosed with Citra, Amarillo, Vic Secret, and Idaho 7 Cryo and clocking in at 9.5% ABV, having this beer with good friends was the magic medicine after a 6 hour drive from Shreveport with two kids in the car.
A 5% Pilsner with Centennial Wet Hops from Crosby Farms in Oregon and German grown Pilsner malt. It was everything Oden intended beer to be. Dark Golden, crystal clear, pungently piney & dank, naturally carbonated with a clean finish. It was true love at first sip, and I miss it every day.
Coming in hot in true crispy boi fashion I chose CZ AF- decocted Czech style Pilsner from Wayfinder. Being the prince of pilsner on the never ending hunt of the perfect crispy, finding this beer in Portland Oregon after a week filled with hop farms and mountain biking hit the nail on the head of what I was longing for. Just so true-to-style and had such in depth flavor and the saaz hops shine brite like no other!
Traveling the country might sound like a foreign concept for us at this point in 2020…but lo and behold, I think Tony MacAlpine’s traveling circus might’ve been the last band standing right up until the day of the shutdown. I embarked on a two-month North American tour at the turn of 2020 with the last show wrapping up the day before the national lockdown. It almost feels like it didn’t happen…maybe because of all the local brews I sampled in each city. Who knows? Like any craft-beer lover, I make it a non-negotiable tradition to scout out local beer anytime I’m away from home. I was lucky to try so many different beers on the trek, but the standout winners are:
Peanut butter and jelly, or cold weather and boozy dark beer – I’m not sure which pairing is more perfect, but I’ll go with the latter. This Double-Coffee American Stout I tried in Hartford, CT really defrosted the chills in the blustery weather of the northeast: rich, boozy, very malty, and with a dash of cinnamon with loads of bitter, black-coffee aromas on the nose. I’m very vocal about my love for Great Raft Brewing’s “Creature of Habit”, and this scratched my itch while away from home.
DDH Commotion – Great Raft Brewing
Oh, this one needs no introduction. Just an extra public service announcement that this beer is rippin’ hard right now, and it’s the perfect mix of easy-drinking and beautiful bold flavors. It’s everything you love about Commotion (which can do no wrong), but with a lil’ extra love. Definitely my desert-island beer right now…if 2020 was a desert island.
Jesicah Hammett Jones
2020 started off pretty great for me. I was in Boulder, CO with my boyfriend and his family. We always like to try the local craft beer everywhere we go. It wasn’t until our last day there that we stopped by West Flanders and I had my favorite beer of the trip, ‘Udder Darkness,’ a delicious, smooth, non-filling milk stout that I just couldn’t get enough of. If you’re in Boulder anytime soon, I strongly suggest stopping by the downtown area and trying out this little Belgian-inspired brewpub. Cheers to the year ahead and so many more beers left to try!
For me, my favorite beer this year from outside GRB is Parleaux Beer Lab’s Shoreless Seeds And Stardust Barrel aged Imperial Stout. Great Rye barrel, chocolate and stone fruit notes. A pleasure to drink in the adjunct heavy world of stouts.
KanPai Style! – Great Raft Brewing
Kanpai Style Dry-hopped Rice Lager was exceptional. Clean, crisp and dry with a fantastic lemon grass note from the Sorachi Ace hops. Everyone I gave one to was blown away with how flavorful a 4% lager can be.
We had to save the best entry for last. We’ll let Bobby Beers close us out with his absolute, all-time beer of the year.
The best beer I had all year was this Commotion. It was smuggled into the hospital in a Whole Foods bag. Wasn’t the freshest and it may have been a little warm, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the best one I’ve ever had.