The Best Beers I Drank in 2012

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Friday, January 4, 2013 - 11:42am

You know how when a year ends, we all take time to reflect on what we've accomplished ? Maybe you ran your first marathon, or built a house, or adopted a child from Ethiopia.

Looking back on my 2012, I drank more beer than I ever have in my lifetime. Shh…it’s okay. Don’t be jealous. We can’t all be this accomplished.

Anyways, here are my favorite beers I tasted in the past year. Some are hard to find, but I only hope you can stumble upon them one day and enjoy their greatness

  • A Little CrazyBelgian Pale Ale (6.4%) – Revolution Brewing: I’m not one of those crazy hop heads who can drink double, triple and quadruple pale ales and be completely satisfied. I need my beer to have a complex palate of flavors, not just straight citrus bitterness or resinous hop. When I tried A Little Crazy on one of my (many) monthly trips to Revolution, I took a leap of faith. I was pleasantly surprised by my instant love for this beer. Cascade, Citra and Crystal hops come together to create the perfect combination of fruity hop. Wit yeast adds a hazy body and spice flavor that says: “Hey – I’m still a Belgian.” (Imagine your beer saying that in a Belgian accent. It’s fun). Find it Here: Revolution Brewery (2323 North Milwaukee); Gold Crown Liquors (3425 North Clark); Rayan’s Discount Liquors (1532 West Montrose); La Primeria Food, Spirits and Craft Beer (5014 North Clark)
  • Oude TartFlanders Style Red Ale (7.5%) – The Bruery: I basically enjoy anything with the word “Flanders” in front of it.  Flanders are the kind of sour that even the most hesitant beer drinker can hang with. The key to this beer is that it’s aged in oak barrels for anywhere from 6-18 months. Oak definitely has a taming element in sour beers. Along with the dark fig sweetness and enduring tartness, there are slightly sweet, earthy notes of leather and wood that blend the beer to perfection. Find it Here: Jerry’s (Wicker Park) (1938 West Division); Grand and Western Armanetti (515 North Western); Sheffield’s Beer and Wine Garden (3258 North Sheffield)
  • XLImperial Oatmeal Stout (10%) – Goose Island: I know everyone is all into this Bourbon County Stout thing, but I’m going to be honest: sometimes I can’t hang. Sometimes I want   strong, smooth, roasty stout without the syrupy sweetness and the subtle burn of Bourbon down my throat. Enter XL, a well-rounded stout that packs a punch, along with slight sweetness from the Oatmeal and a ton of deep roasted flavor. Find it Here: Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub (1800 North Clybourn)
  • Tart LycheeAmerican Wild Ale (7.5%)–  New Belgium Lips of Faith Series: If you’ve signed up for the journey into craft beer, sours is kind of like the mantle – the layer right before the core of the Earth, which is Barrel Aged beers. Tart Lychee is a golden wood aged sour beer brewed with the tropical lychee fruit and cinnamon sticks. So basically it’s a mind blowing combination of the best flavors ever. Earthy notes from the wood, baking spice aroma from the cinnamon and a lingering tropical tartness from the Lychee. If you’re New Year’s resolution is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things, start with a glass of this.Find it Here: Binny’s Buffalo Grove (124 McHenry Road); Binnys Bloomingdale (353 W. Army Trail Road); West Lakeview Liquors (2156 West Addison) Currently out of stock
  • 2012 AbraxasAmerican Double/Imperial Stouts (10%)Perennial Ales: If someone made me choose only one thing to drink for the rest of my life, I would choose this. Our love affair began at FoBAB 2012, when it was matured in Rittenhouse Rye barrels. This Imperial Stout was aged on Cocoa Nibs, Ancho Chiles, Cinnamon Sticks and Vanilla Beans. It’s the perfect beer to snuggle up with in front of a fire on a cold winter’s night. Or just go to a bar with a fire place and get really, really drunk. Find it Here: Before You Go Liquors (1917 West Fullerton), The Noble Grabe (802 North Bishop)

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: My favorites you can’t find anywhere anymore.

  • Sunday in SaigonFarmhouse Ale (6%) – Half Acre: I tried this at 2012 Belgian fest and loved it immediately. Notes of Thai Basil and Lemongross make this common style of beer incredibly unique.
  • Mint Chocolate Imperial StoutImperial Stout (9.6%) –  Stone Brewing: Like an extremely alcoholic Girl Scout cookie. Where can you go wrong with that? Unfortunately to get this beer you’d have to head to the Stone Brewery in Escondido, California.

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Follow me on Twitter! @sa_oneill

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Sarah O'Neill
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