2015 was a hell of a ride for us here at the Bottomless Pint. We made great strides in reach, finally found our real roster of funny, engaging writers, and solidified a real starting place for ourselves in the beer community. Thanks to everyone who read, shared, commented, argued, or mentioned us this year. We look forward to an excellent 2016.
Naming and describing the three best beers I had this year was a real challenge – there were so many stellar releases from breweries large and small that stood out. With that said, my frame of mind in choosing these three were that they changed the game in some way – whether a newness to my palate, excellent blending, or cool and unique ingredients. 2 of these three you will be able to find again to experience for yourself, so without further delay, here are my three favourite beers from 2015.
This was by far my favourite Bellwoods release of this year, and i’m sorely disappointed that I only bought three bottles. With a brett funk to start, quickly followed by a beautiful just-so sweetness and a subtle dryness that compares to a white wine, this blend is balanced, tasty, and an absolute treat. More forward flavours include a honeydew melon and oak, and the effervescence contributes to an active mouthfeel that I haven’t tasted since (nor likely will again). It was released at the height of summer, when it assisted in the relaxation that can only come from lazy & hazy summer Saturdays by the pool or lake. The bottle of this I am retaining in my cellar is for a very, very special occasion – I wish I could say this was coming back, but your only way to try it is from Bellwoods’ reserve bottle list, or buy one from a bottle trader. Go out of your way to get this blend. I’ve never felt sad over an empty glass like I have with Barn Owl 2.
Amsterdam consistently put out incredible beer this year, from Shapeshifter, Maverick and Gose, El Jaguar, and Testify. Howl, however, stands out in this collection as a truly refreshing, complex, drinkable Saison-style beer that I am regretfully told is not going to return until some time in early 2016 as a part of Amsterdam’s vastly underrated and criminally underpromoted Adventure Brews line. Made in combination with saison yeasts and of course brett, and each iteration being a different blend, Howl has a delightfully fruity ester and a complex taste profile that matures its way through the glass, with notes of malt sweetness, an alcoholic spice, grass, cantaloupe, papaya, and a touch of hop bitterness. Without spending this entire paragraph complaining about the fact that FOR SOME REASON THIS HASN’T BEEN MADE A REGULARLY BREWED FIXTURE BEER, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE, AMSTERDAM?, I heartedly encourage you, dear reader, to pay close attention to ‘Dam’s social media for Howl’s next feature at a bar or growler release. Some fun trivia is that this is my mom’s favourite beer, and even she complained on Twitter asking for another batch. Don’t upset my mom, Iain and friends. Make more Howl. (Side Note: I also tried this bottle conditioned; quite frankly the additional carbonation makes it less enjoyable)
Things that make you go HRRRNG. This beautiful, opaque gold saison was the beer-track to my summer, and I drove to Gravenhurst to get more of it because it was so delightful. A low-ABV brew with a bright white head that never leaves the glass, 7 Weeks kicks in with yeast esters on the nose and a subtle citrus sweetness with categorically no bitterness. It is well-attenuated, crisp, and just dry enough. As far as sessionable beers go, this takes the cake – although, because it wasn’t in LCBOs, I had to exercise at least some discretion in drinking my 18 cans. Also, it’s really fun to say the entire name to someone, as you can practically make a sandwich in the time it takes you to say it. I’ve professed my love for this brew both in person and online, and i’ve been assured by Sawdust that it will be returning next summer. Thank heavens.
As a final note, I’ll leave you with my favourite event of the summer: the Indie Boat Hop. Victoria and myself decided to embark on this unique beer float-about; a three hour tour (heh) around the Toronto harbour, on a pirate ship, drinking a
mazing selections like Bellwoods’ Brettallica, Nickel Brook’s Raspberry Uber… you get it. Put on by the folks at Bar Hop and Indie Ale House, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy the summer and drink heavily in the sun. Pictured is me, then some idiot jumped in and gave the camera the finger. What a tool. If you’ve never been, be sure to grab some tickets next year, and we can float around the harbour drinking together. Cheers, readers.