#10 Wall Breaker E.P.A. (Bridgette Brewing, Homebrew)~ Lest you think that this beer was anywhere near as good as the others on this list, let me assure you that it wasn't. That said, this was the first year that I made my own beer using the Mr. Beer Kit. Wall Breaker was named in honor of my third marathon attempt (also my third brewing attempt), and it was a recipe that I developed myself. For a first foray into boiling and dry hopping, I was quite pleased with how this one turned out.
#9 Chunkin Pumpkin (Crabtree Brewing)~ I'm not a big fan of "fruity" beers and I'm not really all that crazy about pumpkins in general. I mean, I'll eat a slice of pumpkin pie if you give me one, but I'd prefer a Cherry, Peach, or Apple pie any day. That said, I was impressed with this beer. I had the opportunity to sample it at their new taproom in Greeley,which used to be an 80's nightclub where I spent many a "teen" night. In fact the last time I was in that building, I was probably swilling some Old Milwaukee Light beforehand. See, sometimes getting older is okay.
#8 Deviant Dale’s (Oskar Blues Brewery)~ This beer would probably be higher on my list if I'd had a chance to drink more of it. It was one of the beers I enjoyed at this year's Foam Fest. In the last 12 months, I've acquired a taste for "hoppy" beers and Dale's doesn't disappoint. Currently, this brew is selling for about $14.00 for four at our local liquor store. Even if it is a 16 oz. tall boy, that's a bit more than I can afford for an everyday drinking beer.
#7 Ranger IPA (New Belgium)~ You either like this beer or you don't. It is very strong with the hops and the bitterness is something else. This beer is my "comeback player of the year" beer. The first time I tried it was back in 2011 and I thought it was awful. But like I said, I've acquired a taste for hoppiness, and so I've learned to enjoy this one much more.
#6 90 Shilling (O'Dell)~ This is a classic Colorado beer, and the flagship beer for O'Dell. It's similar to New Belgium's "Fat Tire," and I've come to enjoy it as an everyday type of beer. O'Dell doesn't get the same amount of attention that New Belgium does, but they continue to put out excellent beers from their Northern Colorado Brewery. In fact, I haven't really had anything from O'Dell that I didn't wind up enjoying. If I were to give an award for best Colorado Brewery, they would be a contender.
#5 Winona's Big Brown Beer (Shamrock Brewing)~ Here's one for the home team. Apart from the obvious bonus points for referencing Primus in the beer name, Shamrock has come on strong during the last half of 2012 with a variety of beers to complement their standard rotation. Maybe it's just the timing, but I love walking into this place and sampling some great beers. Matter of fact, I'm going to try and convince my wife that we should go there tonight for some beers and dinner.
#4 Double Pilsner (O'Dell)~ See, I told you that O'Dell brewing was a strong contender as a brewery. This beer was on the short list for number 1 this year. It has great balance and drinkability. I enjoy pilsners because they offer something different than the standard ale. Hard to go wrong with this beer.
#3 Zora's Oatmeal Pale (Strange Brewing)~ Originally at #2 on my list, this was the most unique beer that I sampled this year (also at Foam Fest). In fact it was my favorite hand's down at the Fest back in August; very different from what was being poured by the other breweries present. That said, this is definitely a one pint type of drink. At any rate, it is no longer in production, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
#2 Nitro Milk Stout (Left Hand)~ Full-bodied with a rich creamy texture, this beer is the "go to" stout that we drink (Shamrock's 3rd Street Coffee Stout get's a mention here). Last September we had a "brewing" party to produce some porter and while we were at it, we did a blind sampling of 5 beers. The Milk Stout was the runaway favorite, even beating Guiness, which tasted thin and a bit smoky.
#1 Shift Pale Lager (New Belgium)~ This was the beer that I cracked open after completing the HITS Triathlon in Sterling this summer. The race was great, but also scorching hot, and after the two hour drive back to my parent's house, the crisp, slightly hopped beer was an ideal way to reward myself after the long race. Shift also comes in really big cans which means there's more to drink! And even though they ran out of this at the finish line of the Horsetooth Half-Marathon, this is my post-triathlon/ race beer.