The 2017 NFL Draft is almost upon us, and you know what that means: it's mock draft season. Next to bracket season, mock draft season might just be our favorite time of year. Mock drafts are just plain fun.
This year, we've decided to mix things up by holding a mock draft of our favorite beers from last year. 2016 was a fantastic year for beer, not only for us, but for the beer community as a whole. Some well-known legends like Tree House took their brewing game to new heights. Some newcomers like Foam absolutely blew us away. And we even had the opportunity to taste legendary beers like Dinner and Pliny the Elder for the first time.
More than a few of these picks surprised us [EDITOR’S NOTE: If you told me someone other than me would wind up choosing Swish, I’d have called you a damn liar], and it's interesting to see how each of our writers weighed the merits of each beer. Agree or disagree? Let us know!
York: Focal Banger, The Alchemist (DIPA)
There's one specific draft scenario that reminded me so closely of this "Beer Draft" pick of mine that I have to bring it up. In 1999, every commentator, fan, and even most teams penciled in three QBs off the board first and then Ricky Williams. Williams was the well-known, flashy guy who played at big bad Texas and had incredibly high expectations. After the first three picks went as expected, the Colts stuck with the same position but decided to forgo those preconceived notions and draft Edgerrin James, who went on to have an even more successful career than the also productive (though very dramatic) Williams. If you haven't already caught on, Focal Banger is my James aand Heady Topper is Williams. Heady is renowned for being a top beer and while it certainly is a class above almost all else, I think Focal Banger is that much better.
Shane: Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch, Almanac Beer Company (Sour)
If you had told me that York and I would have the top two picks and that one of us would choose a sour and the other would choose a New England DIPA, I definitely would have predicted it the other way around. But I've come around to sours in a big way, and no one consistently produces better sours than Almanac. Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch is a complex beer with a good amount of pucker on the front end and smooth vanilla on the back. If Focal Banger is the Edgerrin James to Ricky Williams' Heady Topper, Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch is my JJ Watt. Some people might consider it a reach to take a sour with my top pick, but I think this one is gonna work out just fine. A worthy first round pick.
Pete: Mott the Lesser, Tributary Brewing Company (Imperial Stout)
I had my draft chart in my mind a week before the draft. I played out the first round 1,000 times, expecting Focal Banger to fall to me. But much like Adrian Peterson unexpectedly falling in the draft...I am left with no choice but to draft Mott the Lesser with my first pick. One of the best stouts I have ever had and great way to start our May Beercation. This beer elevates barrel aging to an art form. It takes four different liquor barrels, and you get the right amount of character from each one. This beer is so balanced and flavorful, it is truly worthy of the hype that surrounds it.
Pete: Built to Spill, Foam Brewers (DIPA)
Following that selection up, I chose a brewery that was relatively unknown to us going into the May Beercation. We found Foam Brewers because we needed a brewery to go to, so Brian just plugged "brewery" into google maps. We hit the jackpot and found one of the hottest new breweries in the country. My second pick, Built to Spill, a juicy, amazing, peachy New England IPA that none of us thought we would be trying on that trip. This beer's ranking is more amazing when you look at the laundry list of top notch IPAs we were drinking that day.
Shane: Gose (Raspberry/Key Lime), Aslin Beer Company (Gose)
I’m a little annoyed that Pete stole my #2 pick, but I'll look past it because this is a worthy replacement. Simply put, I’ve never had a gose this good. Aslin offers the perfect amount of sourness without going over the top into warhead territory, and the flavor combination of raspberry and lime works incredibly well. The balance this beer strikes reminds me of nothing so much as Marshall Faulk, a #2 pick and one of the greatest hybrid players of all time. Much like Faulk lived up to the hype that surrounded him, Aslin somehow managed to live up to and exceed the high expectations Pete built up in our heads.
York: JJJULIUSSS, Tree House Brewing Company (IPA)
The 2004 draft featured six University of Miami players going in the first 21 picks. Four of them have made Pro Bowls since and the others are by no means busts. I felt a little pressure to get the top Tree House pick on the books early, since I know all three of us are high on them. JJJULIUSSS has been my favorite pick from the powerhouse program so far, and while I certainly could've waited until a later round for another very good beer from this brewery, I made the call to lock it up here.
York: Shambolic, Tired Hands Brewing Company (Saison)
Shambolic is my Sebastian Janikowski. Seb got drafted in the 1st round. He's a kicker. Know how many other kickers have gone in the first round? There was one other. In 1966. Saisons are the equivalent of a special teams position to me. I know they've got a specific place in their respective industries, but I've just never really been excited about them. Shambolic is by far, without a close second, my favorite saison. Very few beers stick out so dominantly in their class to me, and I couldn't risk letting this go to someone else later. Over-drafted like a kicker in the 1st? Maybe, but sometimes being that special gets you higher on the list.
Shane: Dinner, Maine Beer Company (DIPA)
I can’t believe I'm getting Dinner with a third round pick, but here we are. In a way, I understand: Dinner is such a legendary beer that, even though all three of us gave it a perfect score, it was really just living up to expectations. But scoring one of the most universally loved New England IPAs in the third round of our draft? That’s almost Tom Brady-level draft value, right there.
Pete: Wakatu Sour, Almanac Beer Company (Sour)
Dry-hopped sours are now collectively a thing we are all into, and this was one of the best. Great way to experience Wakatu hops, with that nice, balanced funk of Almanac beers. Fruity, citrusy, just a great flavor profile. You can sip this beer for hours because it's just so complex you don't need much to satisfy you. These bottles might be at your local shop and you probably ask yourself, "should I?" Well, if you ask us, the answer is always, unequivocally, yes, yes yes.
Pete: Swish, Bissell Brothers Brewing Company (DIPA)
Was this a move to screw over Shane to take one of his most beloved beers away from him? Perhaps. But this was one of my favorite beers of the year too. A great expression of everything that Bissell can do. This beer was bright and fruity while being soft and drinkable at the same time. Overall, one of the better IPAs I have tried.
Shane: Tesseract, Grimm Artisanal Ales (DIPA)
Hey Pete, go to hell. Losing out on Swish is a shame, but this pick definitely helps soften the blow. Tesseract is a beer that’s tough to get your hands on, and I really hope I have the opportunity to try it again. We were lucky enough to try a bit at a Grimm tasting in the Lord Hobo Brewing Company taproom. It's a big, juicy, flavorful New England DIPA that delivers on the considerable hype behind it. Grimm Artisanal Ales is an interesting brewery. They don't have a brewery of their own, and instead operate as a "gypsy brewery," using existing facilities. In that way, Tesseract reminds me of Terrell Owens: a surefire Hall of Famer, but a perpetual journeyman, never settling down (of course, as of writing this, Grimm is in fact building a facility in Brooklyn). I really enjoyed getting to try this beer on draught. Now, to get my hands on some cans...
York: Blind Pig, Russian River Brewing Company (IPA)
Russian River is another example of a brewery that has multiple beers in the upper echelon of the craft beer world. Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger have reputations that speak for themselves, and the sours make a lot of high lists as well. Blind Pig is the original IPA from Russian River, and my favorite. Before the Plinys and sours, there was a simple, delicious Bling Pig that set their course. I can't help but think of the Long family here. Chris and Kyle long were both first round picks and have lived up to it with multiple pro bowls, a Super Bowl, and other accolades between them. Both are known names in the current NFL landscape, but they owe at least some of that success to the original: Howie Long. Howie went in the second round and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. He's certainly not forgotten about, but gets a lot less love than the others, just like Blind Pig compared to the Pliny brothers.
York: Subliminal Message, Grimm Artisanal Ales (Sour)
Shane took my favorite cherry beer AND one of my top sours all in one shot by grabbing the Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch early. That said, Subliminal Message is a hell of a fallback. Just this past year, Houston and Washington hit the mid-first round both looking for receivers. Washington was slated to go first when Houston came running with a trade proposal to move up one spot. Washington happily took the trade, added a late round pick on top, and still got to draft a WR who was high on their board. Subliminal Message was very high on my board and even though Shane took a similar beer, that freed me up to take some of my earlier picks in it’s place. Everybody's happy in this swap!
Shane: KarnL, Plan Bee Brewing Company (Sour)
One of the single best sours I have ever had in my life. I didn’t know much about Plan Bee going into this, but I was blown away. A blended sour aged with cherries in double rye whiskey barrels. If that doesn’t sound incredible to you, I don't think we can be friends. The cherries come through in spades, with just the right amount of smokiness from the whiskey filtering through on the back end. Honestly, KarnL could have been my first round pick--it’s similar to the Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch in a lot of ways--so getting it in the 5th is tremendous value. In a lot of ways, it reminds me Richard Sherman, a fellow 5th round pick who seemingly came out of nowhere to take the NFL by storm with his big, brash style of play.
Pete: Double Dry Hopped Melcher Street, Trillium Brewing Company (IPA)
This beer was the winner of a blind tasting we did on our New England Beercation. We paired this with two other Mosaic-forward beers to see if we could pick out the beers and to see what our favorites were based purely on the beer, not the label. This beer beat out Mosaic Fort Point from Trillium and Bright from Tree House. This beer was one of my favorites from the trip because it really just punches you in the face with so much Mosaic flavor. You get bright citrus and tropical fruit, while also experiencing the earthy, dank qualities of the hop. This was the first beer that I felt that I could taste the "green pepper" people say they sometimes get from Mosaic. Amazing beer, and a clear winner.
Pete: Berliner Weisse (Passionfruit/Mango), Aslin Beer Company (Berliner Weisse)
This was the second beer I ever tried from Aslin and was the beer that confirmed for me that Northern Virginia had something special with this brewery. You think berliner and you think tart and light. This beer was just all fruit and tart from the beer and the passionfruit. Sadly you could only drink this at the brewery, but it has been my favorite berliner of theirs by far. Most people go to Aslin for the hops but more people need to be aware that they do fantastic berliners that might be better than their IPAs.
Shane: Doubleganger, Tree House Brewing Company (DIPA)
This is another sneaky value pick. Doubleganger is probably my favorite beer of 2016. It's Tree House's amped-up version of Doppelganger, which is an amped-up version of Alter Ego, which is an amped-up version of Julius. Got all that? Up to this point, Doppelganger was probably my favorite Tree House beer. Not so anymore. Doubleganger leaves it in the dust--there is so much dry-hopped citrus on the nose of this beer that I almost can’t believe it. So why is it my 6th round pick instead of my 1st rounder? Well, it's solely because neither Pete and York have had it, and necessity is everything here. Even Aaron Rodgers fell to the end of the first round simply because no one felt the need to use a high draft pick on a QB that year. So don't let that fool you: much like Aaron Rodgers, this beer is incredible.
York: Bourbon Barrel Sidamo (2016), Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Stout)
No better beer-football analogy than stouts and offensive line, right? Hardywood makes up an astoundingly large percentage of my top stout choices, with holiday versions, rum aged, bourbon aged, raspberries, vanilla, and any other delicious dark beer adjunct you can think of. The Bourbon Barrel Sidamo is my Joe Thomas. Thomas got drafted by the Browns with the number three pick in 2007. All he's done since then is go to 10 straight Pro Bowls and be recognized as one of the top players of any position in the NFL. Bourbon Barrel Sidamo is a big beer in every way and takes one of the very top spots on my list of dark beers.
Don’t worry, this is only the beginning! Check back here on Thursday to see rounds 6 through 12 of the inaugural Together We Drink 2017 Beer Draft!
Drink With Us
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