The first annual Together We Drink Beer Draft rolls on with rounds 7 through 12! Since today is the first day of the NFL Draft, we figured it was the perfect time to wrap up our beer draft. The back end of our draft is replete with value picks and steals, as well as a few sneaky picks from breweries to watch out for this year.
York: Kook, Pizza Port Brewing Company (DIPA)
Pizza Port is a fascinating brewery. They do things differently and don’t seem to play into nearly as many mass market expectations as others. The beach culture and neighborhood-y aura they go for is embodied in their goofy can art and simple but delicious beers. In the world of DIPAs, there are a ton of high draft picks that get gobbled up by well known beers like Heady Topper, Pliny the Elder, and everything from Tree House. Similarly, during the 2012 draft, everyone knew QBs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III would be going back-to-back to start the draft. Soon after came Ryan Tannehill, then Brandon Weeden, then Brock Osweiler, then Russell Wilson. We can stop there, because he fits my point. Wilson is unfit to play NFL QB as far as many measurables go. But since 2012, he has won a Super Bowl, been to the Pro Bowl, and, oh, won the fan-selected Rookie of the Year award over all those other QBs. Sometimes a difference in stature is exactly what's needed to find success in a position thats become a bit rigid--whether we're talking about quarterbacks or DIPAs.
Shane: Convivial Suaréz, Grassroots Brewing (Saison)
Grassroots Brewing is an offshoot arm of the legendary Hill Farmstead Brewery, and I'm happy to say they exhibit exactly the same level of skill. I've never been a huge saison guy, but I feel the same way about this beer as I do about Shambolic (York's 3rd round pick). It elevates the entire style. This beer pours an absolutely gorgeous ruby red color, and offers a hint of sweetness and just enough pucker to let you know it’s there. The beer is brewed with hibiscus and lemon, and both flavors come through beautifully. Can't say enough good things.
Pete: Citra IPA, Other Half Brewing Company (IPA)
Another beer that changed how I view a hop by helping me see a quality I had never experienced. I have read reviews of Citra beers that say you can taste melon in certain IPAs. I have always been skeptical because, for me, Citra was always citrusy and fruity, but never melon. This beer exceeded my expectations, and it really shows why single-hop beers can be special. Some breweries just make these beers because they are simple and people will like them. But this really takes a single hop and shows you how many great flavors can be coaxed out of it.
Pete: Society & Solitude #6, Hill Farmstead Brewery (DIPA)
Burlington is a great city. Well, from a Jersey guy, it's more of a town, but a great town. In every local Burlington bar, you can get just about any of the beers you see on all the beer blogs. This was not a beer we expected to find, but it was amazing Mosaic goodness. The Society & Solitude series, much like the Double IPA series, is something everyone should try. They really take beers to the next level. There is no Double Mosaic, but it is clearly the next best thing.
Shane: Madness & Civilization #7, Hill Farmstead Brewery (Imperial Stout)
I can’t keep choosing mainly IPAs and sours. I've got to mix something dark in. Fortunately, Hill Farmstead Brewery made what I would consider one of the best stouts this side of Mott the Lesser in 2016: Madness & Civilization #7. Obviously this is just one beer in a continuing series, but, to me, it stands out. Just a beautiful blend of rich, chocolatey elements that make a perfect stout that doesn’t become cloyingly sweet. It takes a deft hand to stop on the right side of this line, and maybe nobody has a defter hand than the folks at Hill Farmstead.
York: Mass Riot, Prison City Pub and Brewing (IPA)
In 2001, the Carolina Panthers (still a relatively new team to the NFL) used a third round pick that had many people shaking their heads. It was an undersized speed man that appeared to be nothing more than a punt returner, and who played the first two years of his college career at a community college and the latter two in the (not yet fully respectable) Mountain West Conference. The Panthers did their homework here and nabbed Steve Smith before anyone else was thinking about it. Fast forward to five Pro Bowls, dozens of NFL accolades, and what looks like a clear path to the Hall of Fame, and they look like geniuses. I see Prison City as those 2001 Panthers. They were on the verge of greatness on my first visit, and when I came back a year later they had just tapped Mass Riot. Now, the beer is winning accolades in competition with craft beer Giants (ha, couldn’t resist) in the IPA categories. Check the story out here!
York: The Hustle, Local Brewing Company (DIPA)
Local Brewing is know, as a lager shop. That is both rare and difficult to do, but Local has figured out a way not only to make a multitude of delicious lagers, but also Belgians, IPAs, sours, and stouts. The lager lineup they put out has completely changed my mind about lagers being a "meh" style and shown me the light with things like Mezcal Lagers, Black Lagers, Hopped Lagers, and a bunch more. That makes it all the more impressive that The Hustle is so noteworthy. At the top of a very impressive list of beers from Local, I place The Hustle. Sticking with the beauty in unexpected places theme (and the San Francisco theme), take a look at DeForest Buckner. This guy played for Oregon, which had one of the worst defenses in the NCAA the year he was drafted, giving up almost 500 yards a game. Buckner, a defensive player, then went on to be the 7th pick in the draft and rank among the top rookie performers. With both football and beer, true talent seems to identify itself regardless of whether it fits a theme.
Shane: Mambo, Local Brewing Company (DIPA)
I've got to go back to the West Coast for this one. Or rather, stay on the West Coast (thanks for stealing my thunder by choosing a Local beer before I could, York). Mambo really blew me away. It still stands as one of the best West Coast IPAs I've ever had--though that could be because it adopts a lot of East Coast elements. It's a big, juicy, fruity hop-bomb that pours a gorgeous hazy orange color. I know this is a few years too late, but it's a beer that reminds me a lot of Chip Kelly. Forget what you may think of him now. Chip Kelly was a New Hampshire native (shoutout!) who brought his electric, fast-paced, east coast style of play all the way out to Oregon and thrived, the same way Mambo takes a tried-and-true New England formula and applies it to a west coast brewery. If and when I finally make it out to San Francisco, Local will absolutely be one of my first stops.
Pete: Kentucky Christmas Morning, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Imperial Stout)
Oh, this beer is a long story. Hardywood's Gingerbread Stout has an important place in my heart: I used a fake trip to Richmond for the release of Gingerbread Stout as a ruse to ask my wife to marry me. That release has changed a lot since then. They have aged this beer in everything from bourbon to apple brandy barrels. Where is the line for perfection? Well, add coffee and age it in bourbon barrels does the trick. We did a vertical of Gingerbread Stout, Rum Barrel, Christmas Morning, and Bourbon -ged Gingerbread Stout. This was the best. They have the right amount of coffee and a great amount of barrel aging without being overly boozy.
Pete: The Fruits of Our Labor (Passionfruit), Burley Oak Brewing Company (Sour Ale)
Ah, harkening back to Ocean City and our yearly trip to spend Labor Day on the beach. Burley Oak is right around the corner, and, wow, they blew our minds. They have a great selection of sour beers aged with fruit, and this was by far the best. I love passionfruit in beer. This adds the right amount of acidity to the beer while injecting huge tropical flavor. You can see my bias for this fruit based on this list--and I left at least one passionfruit beer off.
Shane: Divine Encounter, Garrison City Beerworks (DIPA)
Garrison City Beerworks is doing a ton of great things right now. In fact, I'd put them up against anyone as the best brewery in the state of New Hampshire. But head and shoulders above the rest stands Divine Encounter, a double IPA that the brewery no longer produces (you're in luck though--the backbone of the original recipe lives on in a new DIPA called Isosceles). It's hazy, juicy, and all around delicious. Is it weird to pick a beer that doesn’t exist anymore? Maybe. But it’s still one of the best things I drank in 2016.
York: Fides in Fermento, Hop Dogma Brewing Co. (Stout)
Despite how many amazing beers can be found on the West Coast, virtually none of them are porters or stouts. Fides in Fermento stands alone at the top of that list, and stands up to any East Coast stout I've come across. Every good brewery in California seems to feel the need to make a stout, sometimes seemingly just to say they can, so it's extremely difficult to know what to expect. As such, I try 'em all, and am happy to say Hop Dogmas has it figured out. In the 2002 draft, there were two defensive linemen from the UNC that were both top prospects. They played for the same school, on the same side of the ball, next to each other on the line, and were even roommates. One of these picks was Julius Peppers, a perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer, and the other was Ryan Sims, who went down as one of the biggest draft busts in the Chiefs' history. You can't know for sure what you've got until you try it.
York: Daisy Cutter, Half Acre Brewing Company (Pale Ale)
In my opinion, the later rounds in a draft are the time to go for the picks that may not have the highest ceiling, but have a comfortably high base. I'm normally a big fan of adjuncts done well, but Daisy Cutter is one of the simplest, truest favorites of mine. Antonio Brown went at pick number 195 in 2010. Everyone knew the guy had all the core skills, and there was almost no chance he wouldn't make it as a third or fourth receiver. Fast forward just a little bit, and Brown is one of if not the most highly rated player at his position, and it's largely because there's never been a question about his base abilities. That's the way that I see pale ales. I know I like 'em, and I know that when done well, it's probably the most enjoyable style you can session your way through with.
Shane: Double Dry-Hopped Patina Pale Ale, Austin Street Brewery (Pale Ale)
I've been high on Austin Street Brewery for quite some time now. Their Patina Pale Ale is one of the few pale ales in Maine that can stack up against heavy hitters like Bissell Brothers and Maine Beer Company. But the double dry-hopped version leaves it in the dust. We’ve always been fans of dry-hopping, and in this case it really highlights the pineapple elements of an already great beer, turning it into a fantastic juice bomb. Austin Street has been gaining steam in Maine of late, but for a little while it felt like they were living in the shadow of giants like Bissell Brothers and Foundation, both of whom were housed in the same building complex. It's kind of funny that York led with an Antonio Brown comparison, because I was going to make the same analogy here. For years, Antonio Brown sat in the shadow of Mike Wallace, and it wasn't until Wallace left in free agency that people began to realize that, holy crap, Antonio Brown might have been better this whole time. Likewise, once Bissell moved on to a new facility, it felt like a lot more people began to sit up and take notice of the amazing things happening at Austin Street.
Pete: Bringing Sexy Back with Blueberry and Vanilla, Aslin Beer Company (IPA)
YEAH. This is an amazing beer. Usually blueberries in beer doesn’t work very well unless you use a ton of them to get the right flavor. This was perfection. Amazing fruit and the right amount of twang from the berries to play off the acidic character and tropical notes of the Mosaic hops. To build on the previous post about passionfruit, I love Mosaic, yes I do, I love Mosaic, how 'bout choo?
Pete: Funky Gold Mosaic, Prairie Artisan Ales (Sour)
I love dry-hopped sours. I love Mosaic (see the previous pick). This was an amazing introduction to Prairie and the Sovereign (a Belgian restaurant in DC affiliated with the folks at Churchkey). It's a great spot that with great food and an unparalleled selection of Belgian beers. That happens to include dry-hopped sours, and, man, that is great. This beer brings out all the great facets of Mosaic, but in a sour. You can tell the quality of a brewery when you see how they use brettanomyces and hops. If they can do both? It's money.
Shane: Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing Company (DIPA)
I absolutely cannot believe I’m getting Pliny the Elder in the last round of our draft. This beer is a legend. Pliny the Elder and Heady Topper have been the West Coast/East Coast answer to one another for years, and we were all privileged enough to finally try it in 2016. It's a wonderful, deceptively simple beer that does exactly what it needs to to bring out big flavor in a crisp, clear package. Pliny the Elder was everything I wanted it to be, and getting it in the final round is highway robbery.
York: Wolf Among Weeds, Golden Road Brewing (IPA)
Mr. Irrelevant no more! I had every intention of going for another funky beer with the last pick, but I'm so high on Wolf Among Weeds that I can’t let it go. Much like the Daisy Cutter, this beer doesn’t dress itself up or boast about fruit or smoke or coffee or any flavor other than deliciously crisp, hoppy beer. I hope this is read not as Golden Road being the worst beer on the list, but rather that it's in with the top 36 beers the three of us had last year. As much as it pains me, I can't help but think about Tom Brady being a 6th round pick and putting everyone in his draft class to shame. Cheers to everyone on the list, and looking forward to a great 2017 season!
Drink With Us
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