To arrive at our candidates for the 2010 Knights of the Beer Roundtable Beer of the Year, we took a look back at all the beers reviewed during our roundtables over the past year. In some cases, not all the Knights attended, but their familiarity with a reviewed beer allowed them to place it in their rankings.
This year's field was made up of 68 competitors from 11 states and three countries. The vast majority of the candidates were from Indiana - this is Hoosier Beer Geek, after all - but we feel confident that the beers receiving votes are as good as any beers you'll find anywhere.
This isn't science; this is Hoosier Beer Geek. And it's possible that we may have decided that we like a beer more or less since the original roundtable has happened. In any case, looking back, we've decided that these beers left us with the fondest of memories.
And our fondest memory of them all?
Brugge Brasserie's Spider
When we stopped in at Brugge in May for their fifth anniversary, it wasn't to try Spider - it was because we knew Diamond Kings would be on tap. Needless to say we were equally impressed by the newcomer.
"Spider offers up an enjoyable pairing of sour yeast, Belgian fruits and chocolate undertones. "Our congratulations go out to Brugge's Ted Miller, who continues to surprise and amaze us.
"Ted calls Spider 'one of the three best beers I've ever made', and from my three plus years of Brugge experience, I'd agree."
"I mean this in the nicest way possible - the boys at Brugge have somehow combined Nestle's Nesquik and Lemonade into a Belgian taste experience that leaves me craving more."
And here's how the vote came together. We awarded 3 points for a first place vote, 2 points for second, 1 for third, and 0.5 points for an honorable mention:
3 points - People's Hopkilla - A boat load of hops, addictive
2 points - Brugge Spider - Super sour, tart, mouth-watering goodness.
1 point - Rock Bottom College Park - Simcoe IPA - Clean, delicious, hoppy.
Honorable mentions to : Oaken Barrel Apple Buzz, Great Divide Hercules DIPA, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
3 points - Brugge Spider - Oaky and tart awesomeness. Up there with the best Flanders sours.
2 points - Schlafly Pumpkin Ale - The perfect pumpkin ale. No one else is even close.
1 point - Founders Porter - On draft, this is the best porter I've ever had.
Honorable mention: People's Hopkilla, He'Brew Vertical Jewbelation, Sun King Osiris Pale Ale, Great Divide Hercules DIPA
3 points - Brugge Spider - Chocolate lemonade that kind of reminds me of purplesaurus rex in a good way.
2 points - BRBP's 2001 A Stout Odyssey - This chocolaty delight stands out in my mind as being a top pick from this year.
1 point - Schlafly Pumpkin - I like pumpkin anything.
Honorable Mention - Sun King Osiris Pale Ale, Founders Porter, People's Procrastinator Helles, New Belgium Ranger IPA
3 points - Founders Porter - Founders says it right. Rich. Dark. Sexy. Damn straight.
2 points - People's Hopkilla - I still don't think it is a DIPA, but it tastes great and I want seconds on it, and that is unusual for me with a DIPA.
1 point - New Albanian Beak's Best - This is a drinking man's beer. Not too heavy, and loaded with flavor.
3 points - New Albanian Beak's Best - 2010 seemed to be the year that craft beer fans came back to sessionable (easy-to-drink, lower ABV) beer, and at 5.3% ABV, Beak's Best certainly fits that bill. I wrote, "The beer features a sweet malty front that's immediately chased off by a bitter bite. The nose is malty grainy goodness, and the beer tastes like a good brewery smells. It's a beer that's bitter in the best way." What I didn't know then was that I'd never be able to pass up the beer again; if I'm in a bar and it's on tap, I'm going to end up with a glass of Beak's in my hand.
2 points - Brugge Spider - Every year Ted Miller rolls out a few barrel-aged surprises, and Spider surely ranks among the best of them. Chocolate and sour aren't supposed to go together - it doesn't even sound good - but somehow Spider combines them both in a beer unlike any I've ever come across. In an industry that thrives on consistency, it's Ted's one-offs that always please the most.
1 point - Upland Teddy Bear Kisses - There are plenty of beers out there that have chocolate elements, and even a lot of them with chocolate in the name, but none of them seem to have the complete chocolate package like Upland's Teddy Bear Kisses. If you're lucky enough to stumble across a barrel-aged version, you're in for something even better. In any variety, this beer stood out in 2010.
0.5 points - (Honorable Mention and a beer we actually roundtabled but never posted) Dogfish/Three Floyds Poppaskull - Since my first taste I've not be able to pass up this beer. Maybe not a year-round kind of beer, but definitely perfect for the holiday season. I even drank a bomber at home by myself.
0.5 points - (Honorable Mention) Sun King Oktoberfest - In a year where I'm pretty sure I've had every beer Sun King has released (and some they haven't), it's their Oktoberfest that sets a standard by which I'll now compare all others. And believe me when I say I know what an Oktoberfest tastes like.
3pt - Brugge Spider - Nothing else we tasted this year remotely sparks my memory as well as this beer. Unfortunately seen too rarely, this rich, tart beer is a gem in the local beer market.
2pt - Sun King Osiris - From day one, this was a very good pale ale. In 2010, Dave Colt and company dialed in this beer's recipe to hoppy perfection and went on to can one of the best pale ales on the market. I'd put a fresh growler of Osiris up against any pale ale on the market -- that's saying something given the crowded field.
1pt - Schlafly Pumpkin Ale - It's a familiar refrain: no one makes a Pumpkin Ale as delicious as Schlafly.
0.5 pts - New Albanian Beak's Best, Founders Porter
3 points - Brugge Spider - Haven't had too many dark sours, but the depth of flavor certainly made it more enjoyable. Had this later in the year and it wasn't quite as good, so this may have some batch-to-batch variation - but the first one was incredible.
2 points - Founder's Black Biscuit - Black IPAs are the "in" thing right now, but something about this one just really stands out. I wish they would bottle this; it's one of their best beers.
1 point - People's Hopkilla IPA - Heard lots of hype about this on Twitter and was kind of apprehensive, but this is a really solid IPA. I wouldn't say it's a DIPA, but it's certainly on the upper end of IPA. Great hops and great balance. Would order again.
0.5 points - New Belgium Ranger IPA, Founders Porter, New Albanian Beak's Best - Session beers are coming back strong, and these three are some of the best I've had all year. Won't break the bank and are all great go-to beers.
What a wonderful problem to have... I am having trouble picking from all of the wonderful beers that 2010 had to offer. There were plenty of beers we didn't get around to reviewing. If we had, we'd all be in a hospital waiting for liver transplants. I went through the list of 2010 KOTBR beers and nine (or 16, depending on how you do the math) stood out. And picking out my favorites from there was not easy. But here we go...
-Schlafly Pumpkin Ale: Full body, full flavor, year after year the best pumpkin beer around.
-Sun King Osiris: This has become the new standard at my tailgate parties. Hoppy enough for hop heads, balanced for those who are not, all in all a great beer.
-Crown IPA: Despite not being over the top in hops, a very tasty beer with a balance of malt to boot.
-He'Brew Jewbilation Vertical: With some verticals, the beer is supposedly the same year after year. He'Brew's recipes changed, and their gift pack was extremely fun.
-Broad Ripple Brewpub 2001 A Stout Odyssey: It wasn't a huge stout, but it was an enjoyable and fulfilling stout. Looking forward to its sequel 2010.
It came down to four beers for me this year. After going around and around, here are my results:
-2nd place - three way tie (1 pt. per beer) - Upland Teddy Bear Kisses, Sun King Oktoberfest, New Albanian Beak's Best. These beers have very little in common, but I enjoyed them for a multitude of reasons. TBK ended up being my big beer pick of the year. Chocolate and stout in a beautiful combination. O'fest from Sun King may be my favorite all time Oktoberfest beer; I will have to drink some more to make sure. And Beak's Best, which is my sessionable beer pick of the year.
-1st place - People's Hopkilla - Not surprising that a big hoppy beer won me over. People's may be a Lafayette brewery, but they have been making their way across the state. I'm a fan of their pilsner and their helles, but the Hopkilla knocked me out. Super hoppy but not overly sweet. I'd like to see this beer more often.
Spider 16.0 pts.
Beak's Best 7.5
Sch. Pumpkin 4.5
Founder's Porter 3.0
Black Biscuit 2.0
SK O'fest 1.5
Jewbilation Vertical 1.0
Great Divide .5
Crown IPA .5