Posts Tagged ‘Russian River’

A very rich and exciting year – and not only related to beer – came to an end and it’s time again for some statistics and ranking lists (yes: if you are looking for poetry, I fear you’re on the wrong place ;-))

After my first slow-down during the last 9 years in 2014, my number of beers tasted was boosted again last year to reach a personal new record of 1230 new beers.
Let’s be honest: for me it is getting pretty close to exaggerated. So that I’m always wondering how the top guys on RateBeer can manage to taste 4 times more beers. The actual top rater – fonefan – has rated more than 4000 beers for the seventh consecutive year … A really impressive performance!

The graphic below shows the evolution of my total number of beer tasted during the last 28 years.

evolution_of_number_of_beers

In this total of 1230 new beers, Switzerland is again accounting for approximately 50% of them with 668. The next most represented countries are far behind: the USA (94), Denmark (73), Italy (67), Spain (60) and Belgium (52).
I have been able to discover beers from 3 new countries – French Guiana, Pakistan and Transnistria – which brings my country total to 164 (or 166 according to RateBeer criteria).

3rd_Annual_New_York_Beer_Craft_Week_-_Fun_days

the USA: best country in 2015

My favorite country (with more than 4 beers tasted) has been once again the USA ahead of Norway, Denmark, Canada and Scotland. Switzerland appears only on place 10.

Two years ago, when I started to analyze the average alcohol content of my sampled beers, I would never have thought to find such similar values from year to year. After an overall average of 6.5% in 2013, it has been identical in 2014 and 2015 with 6.4%. Scotland can be found on the top with 9.5% followed by Norway (8.8%) and the USA (7.7%). The value for Switzerland is identical with the one from 2014: 6.1%.

I got beers from 464 different breweries (55 more than last year) and the most represented have been Brasserie des 5 Quatre Mille (Switzerland, 31), Mikkeller (Denmark, 25), To Øl (Denmark, 22), 523 (Switzerland, 20) and UHB (Switzerland, 20).

bfm_logoblack

Brewery of the year 2015 !

Here is my top ten of the best breweries worldwide in 2015 with not less than 5 Swiss ambassadors and among them one on the first place !

1. BFM (Switzerland)
2. Prairie Artisan Ales (USA)
3. 523 (Switzerland)
4. Blackwell (Switzerland)
5. Mikkeller (Denmark)
6. To Øl (Denmark)
7. Brasserie des 5 Quatre Mille (Switzerland)
8. Jester King (USA)
9. De Dochter van de Korenaar (Belgium)
10. UHB (Switzerland)

For the fifth consecutive year now the most represented style has been IPA again with 124 beers. And, thanks for asking, no: I don’t have problems with this hype. American Pale Ale follows far behind with 69, then Imperial Stout (58), Saison (55) and Sour Ales (53).

Talking about styles, my favorite in 2015 has been Sour Ale ahead of the winner of last year, Imperial Stout. Then come Imperial IPA, Fruit Lambic and American Strong Ale. On the other end of the scale we can find without surprise some beer styles I dislike: Dunkel, Dunkelweizen, Pale Lager and on last position Low Alcohol beers.

Let’s now take a closer look to Switzerland.

During the last 12 months the number of opened breweries has continued its cosmic-like inflation with 145 newcomers (there were 88 in 2014). The number of registered breweries in my country is now solidly established at more than 600 and there are no signs of possible middle-term weakening.

The market composition in itself – most of those breweries can be qualified of nano or even yocto-breweries maybe … – makes a complete coverage so illusory that I can be satisfied with my discover of 55 new breweries last year.

My best new Swiss breweries for 2015 are (the winner in 2014 was 523):

braubar_logo

Best Swiss newcomer in 2015.

1. BRAUBAR
2. Rud Bir
3. Güschu 58
4. Aabachbier
5. Brasserie du Temps
6. Lance-Pierre
7. Birrificio del Pirata
8. Echec & Malt
9. Brewhouse
10.Kloster Fischingen

And here are my top 20 Swiss breweries in 2015 (the winner in 2014 was Storm&Anchor):

blackwell_wood

the utterly creative Blackwell Brewery is once again close to the top

1. BFM
2. 523
3. Blackwell
4. Brasserie des 5 Quatre Mille
5. UHB
6. Barbière
7. Braubar
8. Officina della Birra
9. Brygger Øl
10.Bierzunft Wehntal
11.Gutknecht’s Hammer-Bier
12.Sottobisio
13.Trois Dames
14.Rud Bir
15.Storm&Anchor
16.Old School
17.Unser Bier
18.Güschu 58
19.Strättligen Bier
20.Aabachbier

Like every year I warmly recommend to you to try the products from these artists if you don’t know them already.

Best Swiss beer 2015

Best Swiss beer 2015

And to close the Swiss chapter, here are my 10 favorite beers from 2015:

1. BFM √226 Degustator
2. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru (2014) – Frenchy Sparkling Wine
3. Blackwell I Can See your Flanders &
3. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2014)
5. Blackwell Drahtesel &
5. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru (2013) – Megamix Rum Vol.2
7. 523 Incredibly Powerful Apricot Juice
8. Bodensee Van Meer
9. Sottobisio / Full Measure 3D-IPA
10.Storm&Anchor Beast (2015)

And the top ten of 2015 worldwide:

prairie_ba_bomb

Beer of the year 2015

1. Prairie Bomb! – Barrel Aged
2. Birrificio del Ducato La Luna Rossa
3. Prairie / Evil Twin Bible Belt
3. Russian River Consecration
3. BFM √226 Degustator
6. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru (2014) – Frenchy Sparkling Wine
7. Blackwell I Can See your Flanders
7. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2014)
7. Nøgne Ø / Mikkeller / Brewdog Horizon Tokyo Black
7. Struise Black Damnation II – Mocha Bomb

Thanks again to all of you, friends and brewers, who have heavily contributed to a rich and successful beer year 2015 ! I’m sure we’ll met again this year.

cheers !

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Yes, it’s time again ! Time to look over my shoulder and tell you how my past year looked like.

But before, I still owe you my report of November and December. Yes, I know I’m late but I have been quite busy … and lazy. The latter a bit more than the former ..

Both months have been pretty generous ones, particularly December, boosted by the festival in Chur. It resulted in a very high number of new Swiss breweries tasted: 16. Here are they (alphabetically sorted; you’ll have to wait a bit for my biased evaluation ;-)): Basiliske Bier, biergarage.ch, BRAUBAR, Braubude Basel, Brygger Øl, Büchler zu Mägenwil, Brasserie des Coudres, Drei Tannen, Full Measure, la Gerboise, HERMANN Bier, Seegal-Bräu, Stadtbier Chur, St. Johann, Thurtalbräu and Welteneis.

my beer number 10'000

my beer number 10’000

One beer among the ones from these breweries even made it to my monthly top 3, i.e. the amazing Sorachi Berliner Weisse from Full Measure (Bern), ranking number 1 in December equally with the Black Tokyo Horizon, a BrewDog/Nøgne Ø/Mikkeller collaboration and btw my beer number 10’000. November has been even better for Switzerland with the 523 Adriano’s Brown 3 Of A Kind ABA Edition Hops (third) and the Blackwell Hop Suicide! (first). More details about the beers I have tasted in November and December or about the Beer of the Month rankings are here and here to be found.

But now it’s time to widen the scope and to have a look at the whole past year.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines: one of the 4 new countries in 2014

St. Vincent & the Grenadines: one of the 4 new countries in 2014

It had to come once: 2014 has been the first year since 2005 during which I have not sampled more new beers as the year before. Looks like I have reached my appropriate cruising speed now. In a total of 970 new beers tasted (from 40 different countries), Switzerland is of course accounting for a big part of them with 470. The next most represented countries are far behind: the USA (81), Belgium (62), Germany (42) and France (39). Worth notice is a pleasant number of new countries discovered: Mozambique, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Zambia and Aruba. But this enjoyable “Magellan-task” is getting harder and harder every year, especially for a guy 4th on the “most countries rated” ranking of Ratebeer.

My favorite country has been the USA quite clearly ahead of Scotland, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The alcohol average of all beers tasted stayed pretty much the same with 6.4% (was 6.5% in 2013) and we can find almost the same usual suspects as last time on the top of the alcohol average scale: the Netherlands (9.7%), New Zealand (9.4%) and Norway (8.6%). Regarding Switzerland this average rose significantly from 5.8% to 6.1%.

I got beers from 409 different breweries (4 fewer than last year) and the most represented have been BrewDog (31), De Proef (30), Brasserie des 5 Quatre Mille (17), Storm&Anchor (16) and De Molen (15).

After ranking third in 2012, then second in 2013, Storm&Anchor finally did it and reached the first place as my favorite brewery of 2014 ! Here is how the top ten looks like with no fewer than 6 Swiss breweries present!:

Brewery of the Year !

Brewery of the Year !

1. Storm&Anchor
2. 523
3. De Molen
4. Brasserie des 5 Quatre Mille
5. BFM
6. BrewDog
7. Burg Braui
8. Blackwell
9. Mont Salève
10.Hoppin’ Frog

For the fourth consecutive year now the most represented style has been IPA again (81 beers). “Spice/Herb/Vegetable” follows with 60, then American Pale Ale (46), Imperial Stout (43) and Fruit beers and Imperial IPA with 37 each. On the other end 2 styles (on a total of 68) remain without ambassador for 2014: German Kristalweizen and Czech Pilsner (Svetlý). So if any brewer reading this would like to give it a try … (though, thinking about it: do I really want to drink a Kristalweizen ?)

This leads us to my favorite styles in 2014. No surprises here: Imperial Stout still excites me the most and is clearly ahead of the pack. If the second place of Black IPA is no revolution either, I was not awaiting Saison to make it to the third rank. Then follow Imperial IPA and Sour Ale. At the bottom and still failing to please me, we can find Low Alcohol (i.e. beer equal or less than 2.5% alcohol), Pale Lager and clearly on last position, “Radler/Shandy”. What a surprise …

Let’s now have a closer look to Switzerland.
During the last 12 months, an amazing number of 88 new breweries have started what constitutes a clear new record (at least since the last 130 years). It’s an evidence that there is no way for someone to keep a complete overview and I consider my personal discovery of 44 new breweries as a very respectable performance. As always, I have classified those new breweries but for the first time I have used my new calculation method which takes into account different factors and is computed as follows: (n / (n+m)) * R + (m / (n+m)) * C
where
C = the midpoint of my scale (11)
R = rating average of the brewery
n = number of beers tasted from this brewery
m = the minimum of beers required to enter the list (3 for the moment)
Based on this, my top 3 new breweries in 2014 is looking like this:

Best new Swiss brewery in 2014 (of course ...)

Best new brewery in 2014 (of course …)

1. 523
2. Burg Braui
3. Birreria Pacific

My congratulations to these artists !

I would like to close the chapter of the best breweries of 2014 with my top ten from Switzerland (6 of them already appeared above by the international top ten):
1. Storm&Anchor
2. 523
3. Brasserie des 5 Quatre Mille
4. BFM
5. Burg Braui
6. Blackwell
7. Old School
8. Birreria Pacific
9. Barbière
10.Full Measure

Frankly, if some of them are unknown to you, you have to close this gap as soon as possible !

Finally, here are the top ten Swiss beers of 2014:

Tied for first place in the category "best Swiss beers"

Tied for first place in the category “best Swiss beers”

1. BFM Procrastinator 2
1. Blackwell Vanilla Polunocnica Sweet Imperial Stout
1. Blackwell Hop Suicide!
4. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru 2012 (Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon)
5. Full Measure Sorachi Berliner Weisse
6. Burg Braui Rosmarinus
6. 5 Quatre Mille Bière de Zinal Imperial Milk Stout Crème Brûlée
8. 523 American Ninja
8. 5 Quatre Mille Bière de Zinal Imperial Red Fruits
10.Storm&Anchor Citra Saison

And the top ten (OK, eleven…) of 2014 worldwide:

Best beer in 2014

Best beer in 2014

1. Russian River Shadow of a Doubt
2. BFM Procrastinator 2
2. BrewDog Black Eyed King Imp
2. Blackwell Vanilla Polunocnica Sweet Imperial Stout
2. Blackwell Hop Suicide!
6. Mont Salève Nouveaux Mondes
6. Marshall Wharf Cant Dog
8. Companyia Cervesera del Montseny Nomada Moose Islay
8. BrewDog Cocoa Psycho
10.Against the Grain the Green Dragon
10.BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru 2012 (Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon)

This yearly review would not be complete without taking a look to the origins of the beers I have sampled. “How can you find that many new beers every time?” is a question some unexperienced beer aficionados keep asking me all the time. Once again: nowadays this is easy, freaking easy … Here is from where I got my 970 new beers in 2014:

origins_2014

Once again and despite being clearly less important than the year before, my main source is the amazing Erzbierschof bar. An urban legend even says that a barkeeper bought a new car thanks to my tips … I got fewer beers from festivals (17% in 2013) and from trades (18%) too. On the other side, beers I got from friends (11% in 2013) and from the brewers (9%) have massively increased and are now together accounting for one third of all my beers ! Believe me: it’s a fact I really appreciate … Many thanks to all and a special mention to the kings of the respective categories: Anton Flükiger, Julien Brändli, Antonio Rey, Apothibières, Philipp Sigg and Thomas Schneider. And please be assured I have not forgotten all the others !

cheers !

IMG_2608[1]

Saint Bon-Chien World Tour au Moeder Lambic Fontainas

Le mois passé a été prolifique, c’est le moins que l’on puisse dire lorsqu’on épingle 101 nouvelles bières à son tableau de chasse ! A moins d’être Danois, bien sûr, dans quel cas ça fait plutôt vache maigre 😉 Mais pour moi, c’est franchement beaucoup. Une des raisons a été la très intéressante virée à Bruxelles à l’occasion de la Quintessence chez Cantillon et du Saint Bon-Chien World Tour au fameux bar Moeder Lambic.

Parmi les 16 pays différents, c’est évidemment comme très souvent la Suisse qui bombe le torse, forte de ses 35 représentants, devançant nettement la Belgique (17) et les USA (16).  Aucun nouveau pays au programme, mais un client assez rare avec l’Argentine et l’Antares Barley Wine.

J’ai découvert 3 nouvelles brasseries helvétiques. La meilleure d’entre-elles est sans doute celle des Argoviens de Patschiifig Bräu avec deux bières solides et bien faites à défaut d’être vraiment excitantes: la 407er Museums-Bier et la 73er Genie Bier. Les Bernois de Bières&Co quant à eux arrivent sur le marché avec un site internet pimpant, un service efficace et une certaine originalité dans les styles. Ils ne leur manquent plus que la qualité dans leurs produits et tout sera pour le mieux. Finalement, les 5 bières de Schümberg-Bräu (canton d’Argovie IMG_2660[1]également) font le grand écart, allant d’une excellente Kloster-Bier à une Pale Ale fort douteuse, les autres naviguant entre ces deux.

Parmi les autres bières suisses, je tiens tout d’abord à parler de mes deux brasseries préférées – BFM et Storm&Anchor – qui se disputent avec acharnement la première place de mon classement. Dans les 7 BFM et les 5 S&A découvertes le mois passé, il n’y a avait évidemment rien à jeter. La moins convaincante du lot a été la Saint Bon-Chien version Champagne, franchement trop douce à mon goût. Si l’on excepte celle qui a pris la 2ème place du mois, je conseille tout spécialement In A Galaxy Far Far Away de Storm&Anchor ainsi que la Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru 2011 Sauvignon de la BFM. Et puis en fait, non: je vous conseille fortement de les goûter toutes ! Pour les bières de Tom, vous n’avez qu’à foncer au Erzbierschof le plus proche et pour les bières de Jérôme … et bien c’est la même adresse, mais il faudra attendre les 2, 3 et 4 octobre !

Voici encore quelques pensées sur les autres bières suisses du mois de mai:

  • IMG_2659[1]la brasserie bernoise de 523 se profile décidément comme un client de grande classe: sa Pale Ale est une vrai merveille;
  • excellente version au miel de la Montheysanne en provenance de la brasserie du même nom;
  • une fois n’est pas coutume, une bière de Egghubel ne m’a pas enthousiasmé: il s’agit de la Citra Single Hop IPA;
  • par contre, les Thounois (ou presque) de Burg Braui font très fort avec leur Porter et leur Citra. Chapeau !
  • Burgdorfer se profile gentiment comme spécialiste dans les styles dont ils n’ont aucune idée: après leur pseudo-stout (Schwingerbier) ils ont remis une couche avec la Henri Schiffmann, censée être une IPA. Mais c’est bien sûr … Allez les gars: laissez tomber et refaites-nous de bonnes lager !
  • Cathélaz ne faillit pas et offre une excellente Bière Noire au Poivre de Madagascar;
  • la ville de Thoune à l’honneur à nouveau avec l’excellente Black Panter de Frei’s Bier (non, la faute d’orthographe n’est pas de moi ;-));
  • correcte Bière de Noël de la brasserie fribourgeoise (Autavaux) Poyet;
  • Sudwerk – assez discret ces derniers temps de mon point de vue – refait parler d’elle et présente deux nouvelles bières plutôt réjouissantes: Wheat Harvest et Brown Ale;
  • Wipfli-Bräu s’en sort fort bien avec notamment une Gletscheriisbier très plaisante.

IMG_2610[1]Les Polonais ont joué placé dans la course aux plus mauvaises bières du mois avec la Karmi Poema di Caffé (Okocim) et la Dehelder Premium Lager (Van Pur), prouvant ainsi que les mots Poema et Premium doivent se traduire différemment chez eux … Le fond du fond leur a toutefois échappé puisque la Dark G-Free des Anglais de St. Peter’s a fait pire (oui, pas toujours facile de brasser sans gluten).

Le niveau moyen du mois passé a été très élevé et il m’est bien sûr impossible de passer en revue toutes les bières qui le mériteraient. Voici donc un morceau choisi des plus braves d’entre-elles:

russianriverNous voici donc dans la dernière ligne droite aka le podium. Deux bières se partagent la seconde place. Il s’agit tout d’abord de la Cocoa Psycho de BrewDog, une impressionnante et complexe Imperial Stout titrant 10% et arborant 70 IBU. Clairement une réussite de mon point de vue. Puis la meilleure de la série spéciale de Saint Bon-Chien (je ne suis pas le seul de cet avis), j’ai nommé la superbe Abbaye de SBC 2012 Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, un des meilleurs traitement en fûts du brave et légendaire chat.

Mais il y avait mieux. Et pas de peu en plus. C’est dans la brasserie Cantillon que je suis tombé amoureux de la Shadow of a Doubt de Russian River, un Imperial Porter titrant à 9.86%, amer, légèrement fumée, très sec et hautement complexe. Un bijou ! Et ce n’est pas Dave qui va me contredire …

cheers !