Commentary

2016: Best New Beer

For the second year now, the danish beer bloggers are doing a "best of..." series. Started by Stovt last year, it's being done all over again, with some minor changes in the titles, but still with a view at the difference in beer bloggers views and experiences.

There's no denying that my tastebuds have evolved over time. A good solid 5 gets rarer and rarer by the year. Usually when I do my yearly tally I get a bit of help from Untappd, where I pull all my data from. There's simply no other way to keep track.

I've decided to divide the Best New Beer award into one foreign and one Danish. It just made more sense that way.

My non-danish favorite list has a bunch of different styles, although mostly leaning towards imperial stouts. At an almost perfect score there's Anagram from Omnipollo, that I had when I did a Tap Takeover with them back in May. Then there's Saison Melange and Broken Truck No. 2 from de Garde, Black Magick (Rye Whiskey Barrels) from Voodoo Brewing and Wednesday from Cycle Brewing, which was all consumed during Copenhagen Beer Celebration.

The winner however, and the only 5-star rating (of a new beer) this year goes to Cloudwater with their DIPA v2, which I traded with a british guy back when it was only days old. Nothing but amazing, and they deserve all the praise they get for the continoud DIPA lineup - it's now at version 10!

I do however find it much more interesting to see which beers from Denmark, makes the top spots and not surprisingly, my two favorite breweries from last year is well represented. Alefarm, last years "best newcomer" is at three spots with their Old Creation and their Collab with Bad Seed and off course Kindred Spirits, which may be the IPA I've consumed the most during 2016.

 Courtesy of Alefarms Facebook page. 

Courtesy of Alefarms Facebook page. 

But my favorite brewery from last year also snuck their way in with their NE IPA, The Bastard Princess, appropriately named after The Editor. Alongside Gamma Brewing and their Ionize DIPA they're the last ones to make top spots before announcing my apparent favorite beer of 2016.

Black Luck from Beer Here takes the top spot alongside Kindred Spirits from Alefarm are my duo for the best beer released in 2016. One is sweet, heavy, roasty and toasted, while the other one is hoppy, funky and smooth as silk. Both of them warms my soul and I smile when I think of how spoiled we are here in Denmark sometimes.

2016: Best Beer Bar

For the second year now, the danish beer bloggers are doing a "best of..." series. Started by Stovt last year, it's being done all over again, with some minor changes in the titles, but still with a view at the difference in beer bloggers views and experiences.

 On a cold winter night, this is the view that greats you.

On a cold winter night, this is the view that greats you.

Choosing the best beer bar seems counter intuitive, since I've been managing a bar for most of the year. After all, "my bar" would have to be my favourite, right? In Copenhagen, there's a lot of competition and some of these bars have been around for years and years. Fermentoren and Ølbaren are old favorites, but newcomers such as Himmeriget and Bootleggers are ready to steal my attention.

Future additions seems to make it even harder to chose my favourite for next year, but more on that later...

A certain memory keeps popping into my brain when I try to pick a favourite. It stands out because it was a combination of so many things, that just worked in perfect unison. And the fact that I wasn't working there might've been factor for it winning the title.

Beer is in focus, but add in the share-friendly dishes from the kitchen, the amazing view and of course the wonderful presence of some great, passionate people behind the bar. You got yourself a winner! It doesn't make it worse that my wife was on the other side of the table, the first time i visited.

If the above picture hasn't given it away yet, my favorite bar in 2016 is Penyllan Bar & Kitchen...

And the reason is mainly because of the first visit I had there. It was my wedding anniversary and I was having dinner with my wife. The food and beer was perfect, but the detail was in the pairings. Most beers on tap came from Beer Here, which is one of the few breweries I'll order with no hesitation, but rumors have it that Penyllan is launching soon... Perhaps? Maybe...? Hopefully... 

Either way, everything just works and I would recommend anyone to go there if they want an experience beyond amazing. Especially, but not limited to, beer drinkers.

Food connoisseurs will find a menu bringing you directly to heaven. I'm still dreaming about the chocolate cake paired with the Imperial Stout (Black Luck with Ghost Brewing).  

If you're more into cocktails you'll be treated great too. With barrel aged Negroni and Old Fashioned, you're in for a special treat although the Gin & Tonic worked as a perfect nightcap for us. Made with homemade tonic, there's simply not anything like it out there!

Add the carefully selected beer list and highlight the view one last time and I wish I could never leave Bornholm! 

2016: Best Beer Experience

For the second year now, the danish beer bloggers are doing a "best of..." series. Started by Stovt last year, it's being done all over again, with some minor changes in the titles, but still with a view at the difference in beer bloggers views and experiences.

The experiences in 2016 has been many. So many that I've had trouble actually telling anyone about them, if not face to face. Traveling, hosting tap takeovers, meeting brewers, importing my own beers. One travel was especially on my mind, yet I'd rather wanted to save that for the best beer bar. More on that later this week!

But then it hit me, I'd been traveling to a certain brewerys location twice mere months. Maybe it's the second visit that made me forget i ever had been there - considering the amount of beers and the high quality, mixed with some hype in vintage form - it doesn't seem unlikely!

Of course, it's one of the breweries that's been on everyone's lips the past six months, Stone Brewing!

With their newly opened factory/beer garden/restaurant opening up in Berlin, there's a good chance they'll shake up the scene, produce some fresh and hoppy beers and finally let the can make it's way out to the consumer, break down some barriers on the way. Good beers can also be in a can.

But not only do the have a great hope for the future of craft beer, in Berlin as well as in Europe, they also threw one hell of a party. Food enough to feed a couple hundred of people, beers enough to get them all drunk AND have leftovers, but also setting up extra bars, with incredible beers everywhere on the premises. For the lucky people there, you never had to walk more than 10-20 meters to get your glass filled.

 ... and the winner is! 

... and the winner is! 

And I haven't even started on some of the amazing beers that was present. W00tst00t in all of it's vintages, Imperial Stout on Bourbon barrels from 2008 are the ones that stand out the most, and the ones that made me forget most of the trip home. I still have dream about those beers and I very much look forward to trying the next batch of w00tst00t - the first one to be brewed in Berlin.

2016: Best Foreign Brewery

For the second year now, the danish beer bloggers are doing a "best of..." series. Started by Stovt last year, it's being done all over again, with some minor changes in the titles, but still with a view at the difference in beer bloggers views and experiences.

Personally, 2016 has been a very different year, than every previous one I've had as a beer writer. Mostly because most of my time has been spent running a bar, but also because I've come to know a lot more breweries around the world during my run as mayor president manager. That also makes it a lot harder to choose a candidate for this year.

I've considered a bunch of breweries, including the one I deemed the winner last year (Omnipollo, for those who didn't know).

Cloudwater come to mind, because they've made some incredible hoppy beers over the last year. They've now made it to version 10 and from the rumors they haven't slowed down a single bit

In keeping in line with last year, I also feel like it was appropriate to keep a Swedish brewery on the list. After all, Omnipollo was the winner of best non-danish brewery last year. Stigberget has been making some of the best IPA's I've ever had on danish soil. Westcoast IPA, Business as Usual (with All In and O/O), but more so Amazing Haze and the now world famous GBG Beer Week - all beers worthy of putting them permanently on my beer map.

A third contender for the title comes from my trip to New York. Other half have been slaying the beer scene, including my own pallet. The IPA's I've had on my trip was nothing but amazing and has earned them a spot on my list.

Before hitting the final spot, and winner of my list, I do need to turn my head to the other side of America, to a brewery that blew my mind on all scales. But a beer that really struck the high notes was Double Stack - an American Stout brewed with coffee and maple syrup. I'm obviously talking about Great Notion, the new west coast experts in IPA's, Stouts and Funk!

 ... and the winner is! 

... and the winner is! 

But one brewery that has crossed my path several times during 2016 and has kept surprising me, must be Brew by Numbers. It's not because they have the same weird relationship with numbers as I do, but because their beers have kept the same high level all through the year - many times even exceeding my expectations. The duo of double IPA's 55|01 and 55|02 was especially high hitters for me, but also their more subtle styles such as Oatmeal Stout (08|06), Red IPA (35|01) and White IPA (25|05) has peaked my tastebuds.  

An American comes to Europe

When you take a good look at Stone, it's hard to combine that with the words micro brewery. But 'craft' is still deeply ingrained in their DNA. With several outlets in the US, they're the first American brewery to open their own facility overseas. Something like that doesn't go un-noticed. With such a name and brand behind you, there's bound to a grand opening party. And as a participant, I can guarantee they succeeded.

 Part of the restaurant.

Part of the restaurant.

This is my second visit to Stone, as I was there only two months ago. Back then there was still a lot left to be done, but everyone pulled through and out of seemingly nothing an enormous beer garden rose. My partner in crime for the opening was Andrew and according to him, the Berlin chapter looks and feels quite a lot like the one in Escondido - in a really good way. Big, open, spacious and playful comes to mind, but organic and friendly shouldn't be left out. This place is massive, even if I tried to not count the outdoor area, which seems to be taken directly from California and planted in Berlin.

 Andrew with our first couple of beers.

Andrew with our first couple of beers.

But what makes this so special, is not only the restaurant and beer garden. If not even more important, the brewery. The corner stone (pun intended) is the beer and all of the flagship beers will now be brewed in Berlin, with local, fresh ingredients. And that's important, especially for Berlin!

A city that seems to be in it's infancy when it comes to craft beer. Double IPA's are a rare sight, Imperial Stouts are far between, and craft beer places are in general hard to come by, spread across the city. With a giant production like Stone, the small brewers have got some serious competition on their hands.

 One of the out door bars. Notice the Stone Farking W00tstout.

One of the out door bars. Notice the Stone Farking W00tstout.

 Previously mention w00tstout posing for the camera

Previously mention w00tstout posing for the camera

I won't go into too much detail about what was present at the opening, mostly because I didn't take notes, but also because that list would be massive. I believe to have heard there was 88 different beers on tap during the opening night, where most was in the main bar located in the restaurant, some were in the library bar and yet some more were located outside at smaller stands. 

 Fresh hops.

Fresh hops.

My hope is for Stone to bring their Enjoy By series to Berlin and start putting some much needed focus on freshness. Whether that'll be the case or not, Stone is here to stay and I'll be on the sideline, watching, waiting. Anticipating!

 The happiest man at the opening

The happiest man at the opening

On a sidenote, I got to meet Greg (the happiest man at the opening) while he was in Copenhagen only a couple of weeks later. I even got to serve him food at Banksia, before bugging him about various beer related geeky questions at Taphouse.

Stone Brewing, welcome to Berlin and welcome to Copenhagen.