By Matt, Daniel and Carlos
Just when we thought craft beer in Austin couldn’t get any better than it did in 2012, 2013 rolls around and gives us punch after punch of some fantastic beer. It seemed to be a year of experimentation and bravery with new hop varieties, barrel aging with fruit and 70’s fashion resurrected. Even with three people on the You Stay Hoppy team, it’s damn near impossible to taste every single release, but we did our best to keep up. Now if your brewery/beer didn’t make this list, it doesn’t mean we didn’t like your beer(s), these are just the ones that really stood out and wow’d us. Also remember, this is completely subjective, and we would love to hear from y’all as well on what YOUR favorites were!
In no particular order, our ten favorites…
Hops & Grain/Pinthouse Pizza Hopscrepency
This was one of the first beers of Austin to feature the now popular Mosaic hop. Debuted at our last Bats & Beers event, the beer was a tropical fruitstorm with a bitter finish, an excellent way to feature the Mosaic hop. Not only that, attendees of the event got a taste of three separate firkins featuring the parent hops and the Mosaic hop, giving their palates a tour of flavortown.
Real Ale Brewer’s Cut #7 – Kolsch
This was a quinessential Kolsch style beer (dare I say better than Saint Arnold Lawnmower?). It boasted some fruity aromas along with a nice hop profile. A dry and slightly bitter finish made me eager to return for more. Quaffable, and certainly enjoyable on a warm day to say the least.
Austin Beerworks Einhorn
Last year this was ‘Best of the Year’ so it’s no surprise that this beer made the list again with its cult-like following when released. I swear the ABW guys really do take some of the magic from a unicorn and put it in this beer because when you sit down with a liter of this Berliner Weisse on a hot summer day, it truly is a magical experience.
Austin Beer Garden Brewery Capt. Ivan Drago
A Russian Imperial Stout that will truly break you, crush you and toss you around the ring like a ragdoll. Amos and Swifty brewed this one back at Uncle Billy’s and we are so glad that it has transferred over to their new brewpub because this one has become a staple in our hearty Russian…er, Texas diet. The beer just insults your taste buds with loads of malt all around, with coffee and even more coffee, roasted malt and chocolate. Huge beer, huge flavors.
Hops & Grain Sour Barleywine
It’s like a barleywine and a sour ale made sweet sweet love and had this as their offspring. This was a big malty beer, hidden very well behind delicious sour notes. We all had many pours of this at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival, we just could not get enough.
Surprised to see a cream ale make the list? Don’t be. It took guts to release a cream ale (a once popular beer in the 70’s) as a mainstay beer, and it was done well. Hijack surprised us with its more aggressive hop presence while still staying crisp and clean. It is an approachable craft beer for newcomers or a go-to pint for craft beer veterans.
Formerly Known As Namaste (aka Whip in) AustonerVeisse
A close second to the awesomeness that is Einhorn, this Berliner Weisse was as tart as they come, quenching your thirst at a moment’s notice, or maybe it’s a tap’s notice. There have been many fruit variations (peach was at GABF) but the original is still our favorite.
(512)’s 5th anniversary beer was an exceptionally huge imperial stout boasting huge chocolate and coffee flavor and aromas. Well done.
Pinthouse Pizza Fallen Cask West Coast IPA
Another winner from Pinthouse Pizza, this IPA was dank just like a West Coast IPA should be.
And the Best ATX Craft Beer Release of 2013 goes to…
Jester King Atrial Rubicite
Best of the year was such a toss-up between Atrial Rubicite and Viking Metal. Both were excellent on their own terms, but what it really came down to was Atrial’s unapologetic raspberry flavor by adding hundreds of pounds of fresh Oregon raspberries to the barrels where this wild ale was allowed to re-ferment. The ending beer was magical. It poured a beautiful reddish brown with a bright pink head and the air around just filled with raspberry aromas. Tart raspberry dominated the palate with a dry finish. Paired with dark chocolate, this beer was taken to a whole new level of complexity and craziness.
Jester King plans on making more fruit beers like this in the future using their coolship, which is 100% spontaneous fermentation. This magical beer could just be a gateway into pure nirvana.
So what were YOUR favorite beers of 2013? Let us know, and remember, support your local brewers. Cheers!