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Top Beers of 2012
A look back at all the great brews tried and enjoyed in 2012.

It’s time to bid another year adieu. Not too much stands out about 2012 (I did enjoy the late-season surge by the Brewers and tried to ignore Gangnam Style as best as I could).

I did, however, try quite a few new beers (it’s all part of my job). The following brews were new to me in 2012 and stood out among the dozens that I sampled. 

Sixpoint Apollo: I’ve liked what I’ve tried from Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery, but I think Apollo might be my favorite. It’s a tasty and refreshing wheat beer that accompanied me to the parking lot of Miller Park more than once. Like we need another reason to wish for summer to get here.

Odell IPA: I’m sure that plenty of readers have tried this beauty before, but unfortunately the brew from Fort Collins, Colo., isn’t available in Wisconsin. I tried it on a trip to Omaha and couldn’t stop buying the stuff. The balanced IPA features balanced hops and a grapefruit citrus bite. 

Goose Island Bourbon County Cherry Rye: I’m a big fan of the Bourbon County series (most beer drinkers are), and I thought that this year’s new concoction was stellar. The cherry flavor wasn’t overpowering, and actually the hint of cherry seemed to tame some of the booziness that comes from aging stout in rye barrels. Cherry Rye was extremely tough to find, which only added to the buzz.

Pipeworks Citra Ninja: The best effort so far from the upstarts at Chicago’s Pipeworks Brewing. Citra Ninja has a big hoppy citrus bite and is ideal for those who like their IPAs with a fruity kick.

Three Floyds Barrel Aged Vanilla Dark Lord: I don’t get to try beers this rare very often. But I made a trip to the Map Room in Chicago for the chance during the bar’s anniversary party. My efforts paid off with a 10-ounce pour of the thick black stuff. It was sweet and boozy but smooth. I enjoyed every sip (and sip is all you do with a big 15 percent ABV stout).

Three Floyds Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker: A crazy name that goes a long way to describing what this double IPA does to your palate. I stumbled across this last winter while trying to make it to every bar in Milwaukee and Chicago that made Draft Magazine’s best beer bars list. The Hop Leaf put it on tap the minute I got there. I was rewarded for perfect timing with a 10-ounce pour of some decidedly hoppy elixir. I haven’t seen the stuff on tap since, but if I do, I believe I’ll have another.

Central Waters 1414: Another extremely delicious rarity. The 14th anniversary stout proves that Central Waters is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to barrel aged beers. The brew was thick, sweet and extremely smooth. I have to thank Burnhearts in Bay View for the chance to try this beauty. 

Coast HopArt: I am a beer tourist. When I’m in a new city I tend to seek out regional beers and standout beer bars. A trip to Charleston, S.C., in late summer gave me the chance to sample this IPA from Coast Brewing, a Charleston local. HopArt was extremely well balanced and had a reasonable but not overwhelming hop bitterness. In short, it’s an IPA made for the beach.

Standout Events of 2012
I should also give a quick mention to three of the better beer events that I managed to get to in 2012. The Bell’s tasting at Burnhearts (2599 S. Logan Ave.) in February was amazing. A cask of Hopslam and the rare Black Note on tap made it a night to remember. Keep an eye on Burnhearts because they do things like this a lot.

Milwaukee Brewfest benefitted from a near perfect day on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The warm and sunny Saturday in July was made better by the fact that scores of quality breweries were on hand sampling their brews. 

The previously mentioned 20th anniversary party at the Map Room was outstanding. It included samples of Three Floyds Dark Lord, Founders Bolt Cutter, Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary Ale, and too many more to mention.

Events Brewing
Friday, Jan. 4: Lakefront Brewery co-founder Jim Klisch is on hand at the Uber Tap Room (1048 N. Old World Third St.) to pair Lakefront brews with cheese. Cost is $10 and the festivities begin at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 5: Get to Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) early if you want a chance at a raffle for a tasting of the pricey Sam Adams Utopias. Stick around to sip new arrivals from 1-4 p.m.

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