Friday, December 31, 2010

Year In Review: 2010 Awards

It's become something of a tradition here to call out some of our favorite beers from throughout the year. These are beers that, for some reason, have resonated in our consciousness this year.

Unfortunately, for who's know what reason, this year was not 2009 - an epic year for beer in Wisconsin, with lots of great new brands and styles. 2010 was much more slowly paced in terms of new releases; of course, that's not to say the beer wasn't any good, but it there wasn't much that really jumped out any of us.

So, with that in mind, here's what Madison Beer Review thought about 2010.

Best Experimental Release
Joe: Vintage Jolupukki (sahti)
Robyn: None that stuck out
Matt: Central Waters Peruvian Morning
Jeff: Vintage Rochambeau - I was obsessed with this beer in the late-spring, early summer. Scotty's obsession with Sorachi Ace hops has rubbed off on me and this Belgian Pale Ale just hit all the right notes.

Best New Release
Joe: Vintage Better Off Red
Robyn: Vintage Pumpkin Disorderly
Matt: Furthermore Hopperbolic
Jeff: Furthermore Hopperbolic and Central Waters Illumination - I know, I said I wasn't going to talk about Furthermore, and you can feel free to discount my opinion accordingly, but Furthermore knocked it out of the park with this IPA that on its first release is one of the top, if not the top, IPA in Wisconsin. For a runner-up, Central Waters' Illumination IIPA was mighty tasty.

Best Seasonal
Joe: New Glarus Staghorn
Robyn: Lake Louie Milk Stout; Central Waters Peruvian Morning
Matt: Ale Asylum Mercy Grand Cru
Jeff: O'so Picnic Ants - O'so was pretty quiet this year, but still managed to improve the Picnic Ants to be a fantastic early-summer must-have.

Best Special Release
Joe: Grumpy Troll Grumpy Creek on Cask (Great Taste)
Robyn: New Glarus Enigma and Abt
Matt: New Glarus R&D Geuze
Jeff: Capital Barrel Aged Imperial Doppelbock - it's so special it isn't publicly available yet; but what I've had of it (thanks Kirby!!) makes it the most-anticipated release of 2011 (if it even gets released). Rich and overloaded with alcohol, the bourbon-barrel notes compliment the texture, flavors, and aroma perfectly.

Best Year-Round Release
Joe: No Vote (conflict)
Robyn: Titletown Schwarzbier
Matt: Tyranena Bitter Woman
Jeff: BrewFarm Select and BrewFarm Matacabras - I do not buy 12-packs of many beers, BrewFarm Select is one of the few that I buy by the case; along with Capital Pilsner, Select is one of the two best light-beers in the state. And Matacabras. I could write pages about the awesome-ness of Matacabras. The complexity, the aromas, the flavors, the versatility - if a bigger-named brewery in the South-Central part of this state had made this, named it something boring, and slapped a red-foil wrapper on it, it would be BeerAdvocate's number 1 beer in the universe; as it is, cherish this jewel.

Best Brewery
Joe: No Vote (conflict)
Robyn: Vintage Brewing
Matt: New Glarus
Jeff: Dave's BrewFarm - I know, they only sell two beers; but that really sort of misses the point. Dave's BrewFarm is not, primarily, a brewery at all. It's not about making obscure styles or precise laboratory perfection. It's not about big, bold beers; it's not about mild ales so subtle you need a phd to taste anything. It's not about packaging, or label design, or trends. The BrewFarm is a way of life. It is kicking back with good, tasty beer. It is dropping in just to see what's going on. It is about always having something going on, even if what's going on is nothing at all. It's about the abundant beauty and comraderie that one can take in with a beer in your hand. It is about experimenting purely to satisfy curiosity. It is about experimenting with what's on hand in a sustainable manner. It is about caring about your customers and world around you and having a brewery that manages to do all of those things at once.

Best Brewpub: vote in the poll to the right there. Can anyone take down Grumpy Troll, winner 3 years in a row? Voting ends 2/28.

Some Disclaimers: Joe works at Ale Asylum (if you take a tour there, say hello), so while he reluctantly voted for some of the awards, he didn't feel it appropriate to vote for (or against) Ale Asylum. Robyn works for Vintage Brewing Company behind the bar and coordinating their beer education program; this is a relatively new gig for her, and I'm sure her votes are unbiased, and not intended as Vintage jingoism [ed note: one of my favorite words]. Indeed, Vintage had a very strong showing this year and Head Brewer Scott Manning deserves all the kudos he gets. Jeff is on an advisory board for Furthermore Beer; it hasn't even met yet, is not a permanent gig, and Jeff isn't getting paid for it. But, nonetheless, transparency prevails. Matt used to work for Ale Asylum, but no longer does. Finally, Travis works at Barriques; it presents no conflict, except when I want his beer discount and can't get it.


  1. I had the cask Grumpy Creek at the pub, not at the Great Taste, back in April.

  2. I agree with Joe on the Grumpy Creek being fantastic. I wrote a bit ago about "sessonable pale/golden ales with IPA-like flavor and aroma hops" being a mini-trend this year (Grumpy Creek, Moon Man, that Milwaukee Brewing co. one...), and I think this was the best of the pack. Grumpy Creek and the Troll's Rye Bob are probably my #2 an #3 choices for that category this year, but the Geuze blew me away.
    I need to get back to the Vintage. Only been there twice, like it both times, but the second time I went specifically to try the Sahti and it had just ran out. Then I forgot to try it at the Great Taste! My loss i guess...

  3. Yeah, there were a lot of "runner ups" this year: Rye Bob, Potosi Cave Ale, Pearl Street Dankenstein, New Glarus Enigma, Milwaukee Brewing Co's Black Ale, are just a few.

  4. Nate Peck assistant brewer Sand Creek breweryJanuary 2, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Glad to see Sand Creek had such a solid showing even if it is by proxy, thanks.


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