31 December 2015

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #1 - Old North Mocha Porter

My Favourite Beer in 2015!
A year ago today my life was rolling along as it always had. One disaster after another followed by binge drinking macro lager and passing out. I wasn't looking to the future nor did I care to. But there was a glimmer of hope as the year progressed. I started to actively live my life. It didn't happen overnight, but in a series of small moments that I couldn't recognize until I put down the Old Milwaukee tall boy. It would be simplistic to say Craft Beer saved my life, but not far from the truth. Well made beer is not just a better consumer product, it is better for you. Good beer made me slow down and take stock of what I really wanted in my life.
I know in my heart I am always going to have to work at being a more present person. But with the help of my family, friends and the occasional beer, I can do it.
All of this leads up to where we are today. New year's Eve 2015. I am very grateful for every one of you who took the time to read the ramblings of the Drunk Polkaroo. It means more to me than I can express and I hope you found something to carry with you. Be it a beer you didn't know about or maybe reconnecting with an old friend, I wish you well.
On with the final review of the year.
 My crazy days of drinking crappy beer are over. The memes and pithy quotes about over consuming and blacking out are still funny, but no longer needed. It is time to grow up and drink beer as the gods intended it to be consumed. With joy and presence. I approach my beer now with an open mind and heart. This how I feel when I popped the top on this years #1 beer on the Polka Dot Awards.

Baysville, Ontario brewery Lake of Bays makes many of my favourite brews, but their Old North Mocha Porter was off the charts good this year.
You always have some expectations of what a beer is from the style or description on the bottle. I usually rely on my own judgement, but their modest depiction of what was in the bottle says it quite well.

 I had the 2014 version last winter and found it pretty decent. 2015 was a step above. It made such an impression that I couldn't get it out of my head. It held its place as the last month of the year advanced and the beers got more complex. Never did I expect this would remain the front runner, but it is a great damn beer.
Christmas at Merle's with a wonderful beer!
It pours a rich black colour with a creamy tan head. Smells incredible roasty. When you finally get done admiring how good it looks, the flavour is incredible. Coffee forward flavour drives the truck here and with the dark chocolate and bittersweet cocoa flourishing in the back, we have an amazing brew. It is a big, robust and mouth watering beer that warms you up in all the right ways. Roasted malts cascade through your senses as you take a deep breath before each sip. So very enjoyable.
This beer is exactly what I was missing before I began to trek up Mount Beer. It could be used to get drunk with, for sure. But it doesn't make me feel that way. It makes me want to lean back, turn off the TV and find out how your day was. It makes me want to read a book and sit in front of the fire. This is a beer that lets you enjoy what it is and contemplate how you ever thought Old Milwaukee was tasty.
I am a man who has missed a lot of life in the last few years, but when I get to taste beer like Old North, I know I wont miss much anymore. One bottle of this beer and you have my attention for the whole night. Okay, maybe two and we'll share.
Polkies are meant to show you what made me better this year and I don't have a doubt that this is one of those. I am constantly seeking the next great beer and finding one is such a joy.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. There were so many amazing beers this year and I am just scraping the tip of the iceberg with these ten. Any of the beers listed below could have been #1, but I had to pick just one.
 I have one ready to go and I think it will be the first beer I open when we arrive at our destination for the festivities tonight. I can't think of a better way to start a party.
It's good to have dreams. Here's one of mine.
Thank You!
Happy New Year!

Congratulations Lake of Bays! The Polka Dot Award for the Drunk Polkaroo's favourite beer in 2015 goes to you and your Wonderful Old North! I cannot wait till next winter and another new Mocha Porter!
Here's a link to their website. Fantastic brewery that never disappoints.
Cheers to the Canadian Beers!
Top Ten of 2015 from the Drunk Polkaroo
  1. Old North Mocha Porter - Lake of Bays Brewing (Canada)
  2. Pompous Ass EPA - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada)
  3. Long Dark Voyage to Uranus - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada)
  4. Riptide Rye Pale Ale - Forked River Brewing (Canada)
  5. Torpedo Extra IPA - Sierra Nevada (USA)
  6. Coast to Coastless - Flying Monkeys Brewing (Canada)
  7. Farm Table Marzen - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada)
  8. Pale Ale - Sierra Nevada (USA)
  9. Kentucky Bastard (2015) - Nickel Brook brewing (Canada)
  10. Curmudgeon IPA - Grand River Brewing (Canada)

Summer can't come fast enough.
See you all in the Grotto.
Happy New Year!

30 December 2015

Quantity versus Quality Beers

As I have mentioned a few times, I used to be guy who loved nothing more than pounding large quantities of macro beers with little in the way of flavour. When I started using Untappd to track my beers, I would call these beers "cleansers" and pound one or two between trying a new craft beer. Really it was a way to get hammered  but also try and feel like I was just cleansing my palate for the next beer. As the night would go on, there is no way I could actually taste the new beers, but I was to screwed up to realise this.
 I now understand that I was more enamoured with getting drunk than exploring beer. This breakthrough for me was the key to ending this practice and getting my life back together. I have dubbed these tasteless bastards Quantity Beers for the fact that this is what they are designed to do. I imagine most people can have one or two Budweisers or Maclays and stop, I could not. Stopping just short of becoming a full blown alcoholic was the only thing that kept me alive. Quantity Beers are generally Lagers, with an almost tasteless profile that, when ice cold, flow past the taste buds and into your system with no pause to consider the flavours and textures. Their main claim to fame is that they are "cold". That has absolutely nothing to do with the brewing process and everything to do with what you do to the beer when you get it home. Try to drink a Molson Canadian anything but icy cold and you will be in for a foul shock. But salvation was at hand for the fat man.
I used to think this was a good beer
  The more I tried good beer, the more I came to understand the nuances that make up the different styles. While in the beginning I found all IPA's to be like pine tree syrup, I began to notice the citrus and grapefruit notes that make them so tasty. The same goes for stouts, saisons and a whole world of beer styles I never even knew about. These are Quality Beers. Even if I rate one of these beers low, it is a personal preference and not a reflection of the brewers intent. I have come to love some styles, like saisons, which I detested not even a year ago. I have become a stout-head for sure this winter with all the roasted, coffee and dark chocolate offerings coming out as the weather turns cold. Quality Beers are, to me, brews that are meant to be appreciated. The flavour profiles and textures of these beers show the care and love put into their design and creation. It is not unusual for me to take an hour plus to finish a big Imperial stout because as it warms it becomes more complex .
When I had a Carling last week I was struck by how syrupy it was. All my body wanted was to gulp it back in as little time as possible and grab another one. When you pay attention to what you drink as opposed to just pounding it back in a few swigs, it opens up your tongue to what is really going on. It had a really thin profile that when warming released a lot of sugar into my system and gave me no satisfaction. I cannot drink these beers anymore. They are the gateway to a whole lot of trouble and I have no desire to be a Quantity beer guy again. I don't buy them, not because I am a beer snob (debateable) but because I know it only takes one or two to send me off to the races of frat boy life again.
  I will always seek out Quality Beers. It isn't as cheap as the Quantity choices, but you get what you pay for. Good beer not only brings so much more to the table, these tasty beverages allow me to enjoy a pint or two without reverting to my old destructive behaviours.
  Cheers to well made Craft Beer. May the brewers of these suds be blessed with an ever expanding creativity and may we, the consumer, be smart enough to keep supporting them. I know I will.
New Zealand! Tasty and complex.

The Drunk Polkaroo Does New Year's Eve

It's a little cold outside, but why not remember the summer!

It's the most wonderful time of the year to be a beer drinker. New Year's Eve is the High Holiday of Alcohol, with St. Patrick's Day doing duty as the Easter of Booze. Halloween is still Halloween.
Tomorrow night all manner of drunken frivolities will ensue and it is with this in mind I give you the Drunk Polkaroo's guide to the Eve.
Amateur drinkers go out and spend unbelievable amounts of money on overpriced dinners and watered down drinks. Macro lagers flow and bad decisions are made. I used to think this was a glorious way to spend the evening. I am older, a wee bit wiser and way more aware of what I drink than ever before so the times they are a changin'.
Personally, I never really got the idea of going to a bar on New Year's Eve. Too crowded and this is one night I don't like to be anywhere near the roads after the sun goes down. I now prefer a nice house party with people I love and cherish to the garish lights and loud booming music of the bar scene.
This year we are going to my in-laws house and it always is a good time. The food is second to none and the people just shine with happiness. Things will be a little different for me this year, I don't pound crappy beer anymore, so what to drink and how much will be very much at the back of my mind leading up to the Eve.
I am not going to be the guy who looks down on those who over-indulge. I've been there and I'll be here for you too. There is a time and a place for the social lubrication beer provides and this is one of those. We will be safely ensconced in the family circle and this alone means I can relax and enjoy myself. If you want to have a good time tonight, follow along with me and you will not only party, you'll remember it all in the morning. no apologies necessary.
  • Get some high quality beverages. Macro lagers, shitty liquor and terrible shots do not make for a fun evening. Good beer and quality spirits are easily available at the LCBO, Beer Store or Local Brewery and they makes any celebration better.
  • Consume with awareness. Don't cram a Coors Light down your throat one after the other. There is nothing sadder than a tasteless, empty beer that makes you drunk and nothing else. Thinking about what your drinking is not a bad idea. Enjoy the flavours and aromas that a good drink brings to the table.  Read on through to the end and I'll show you what I'm chilling for the party.
  • Put your phone down. If there is something or someone more interesting you'd rather be with, then maybe you should head over there.  There is no need to show me this picture on Buzzfeed or Intagram. It will be there in the morning. Engage with the people who are present and you will remember it for a lot longer than a cat with bread on it's head.
  • Take pictures together. This is the only reason to get out your device. I will be a demon for getting pictures with the people I am having a good time with. I love the memories that flood back when I look at them later. Rest assured they will be posted on Social media the next day. But for now, snap that photo and let's go back to having fun.
  • Eat Something. Seriously. Your hosts put food out to be eaten. It is delicious and more importantly helps slow down your boozing. I love to eat some good snacks at a party and if paired with the right beer, all the better. But eat something, you'll thank me later.
  • Be free with good words, hugs and yourself. Remember you don't know what a year it has been for everyone. Maybe it was the best year of their lives or the worst. Tonight is about looking forward as much as back, so be happy. Listen and respond to what is being said. Hug people like you mean it and tell them how much they mean to you. I harp on this because we never know what next year brings. Tonight is right now and I love spending it with you.
  • Share your beer. I know, not everyone likes beer, but if you know a beer drinker is there, share all the joy craft beer brings to the glass and then maybe you will have another person to go on beer-ventures with! But remember that even though you love the craft, not everyone does and respect their choices.
  • If you can't or don't want to drink, be happy about it. I wrote about the art of not drinking earlier. (Shameless blog link to the article) You do not have to drink to have fun. It is just fine and dandy to have a pop, coffee or whatever floats your boat. But don't be a wet blanket on everyone else. I've done that and regret it. Have fun, laugh at the goofiness that people bring out when they drink and maybe let loose a little. But do not feel you need to drink, you don't and I support you.
  • Know when you've had enough. This was always the hardest thing for me. I never had a limit. So many nights missed because I couldn't slow down. So be aware of how you feel. If you are getting too out of control, slow down. Grab a water. Hydration is so important when you are drinking. I almost always have a glass of water between beers to help cleanse my palate, but also so I will slow down a little and not over-consume. I realise not everyone has my problem of self control, but if you do then its okay to say no to that shot and keep sipping that big Imperial Stout you brought for the party.
  • Do Not Drink and Drive.  This is a biggie. Don't do it. Stay over, call a cab, call your parents, siblings or long lost cousins. No one should ever lose their life or someone they love because you thought you were okay to drive. Please, I love you and want you around for all my adventures next year.
  • Have Fun.  Finally, have a good time. You are surrounded by people you love and respect. Maybe you haven't spent time with them in a while. Take the time to reconnect and find out how they are. I bet they miss you too. Laugh at bad jokes and stupid things. Smile at memories you share. Make new ones together. Enjoy the last night of the year and celebrate all you hope to do in the next one.

That's about it. Be safe. I am going to say it again,  please do not drink and drive. Too many people don't make it home because someone had too much and drove. It is not worth it. There is always room on the couch for you and we can have breakfast in the morning. I'll buy.

Happy New Year everyone from The Drunk Polkaroo!
Have a great night and let's see where 2016 takes us.

I almost forgot to tell you what I am bringing to the party. Here it is:
My beer for tomorrow is based on what is available at this time of year, my own personal faves and of course what goes with the party! I probably won't drink all of these. But I like to have my options open to where my taste buds want to go.

Yuenglings Lager (USA)
Great Lager. Sadly only available in the states.

Lake of Bays Old North Mocha Porter (CAN)
 Amazing beer with so many flavours.
Get one before the LCBO closes.

Marzen by Beaus's All Natural Brewing Co. (CAN)
Another Ontario Craft Beer, available now.
Malty goodness.

80 Shilling by Beau's again (CAN)
Nutty, toffee and malty.
This one just came out.

Charcoal porter by Innocente (CAN)
Found it at Upper Gage LCBO.
Dark and roasty, get one!

Riptide Rye Pale Ale by Forked River (CAN)
Limited availability in Hamilton. Upper Gage again.
Great intro to rye  and beer.

Coast to Coastless by Flying Monkeys (CAN)
Wonderfully malty and chocolatey.
Available now.

Pompous Ass by Great Lakes Brewery (CAN)
Best session ale of 2016.
Available now, go get two.

Best name for a beer two years running.
Dark, roasted and delicious.
Run to the LCBO and grab one!

Torpedo IPA from Sierra Nevada (USA)
Best IPA this year.
Sadly another states only brew
Try their Pale ale, at the LCBO

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #2 - Pompous Ass EPA

Lovely beer for my Grotto!
I think it only fitting that on the second last day of 2015, the Polkie goes to an extremely well made, yet low alcohol (ABV) beer. My journey is far from over in the land of hops and barley, but this beer is one that I continue to buy and enjoy on a regular basis.
Great Lakes Brewery is located in Etibicoke, Ontario. They make some outstanding beers, many of which leave me wanting more than one. Their can artwork from the artist Garnett Gerry (Here is a link to his Instagram, check it out) is second to none and I save at least one of each release to display on my Wall of Beers.
So many beers from these guys are in my top 25, but the one I choose to include in the top ten is Pompous Ass English Ale. There may be more interesting, bolder beers out there and I love to try them all, but it is because of its flavour, composition and 4.2 % ABV that I love this beer.
Like I have said before in this countdown, I am not only trying to showcase those robust beers, but also the brews I could turn to if I just wanted to settle in and read a book with. This one falls into the latter category and I keep a few in the fridge for any occasion.
Pompous Ass pours a cloudy amber colour with a nice off white head. Smells of malted hops. When you take a taste, it has all the earmarks of a classic English Ale. Bready, toffee and a nice toasted malt flavour combine with the slight bitterness of the hops to produce a very fine session ale. It has a decent medium mouthfeel, but doesn't bloat you up or crush your taste buds. I'll often have one of these after having a new beer because it just cruises in and delivers a nice flavour break.
Being a Pompous Ass on occasion has its drawbacks, but not when it comes to beer. Choosing to be more picky when buying beer has made me a better person, albeit one who thinks about his brew entirely too much. I consider what it is I am drinking far more than how much and that is what I was after with this journey.
Beers like this can refresh and create that happy feeling just as well as any Macro Lager. But they do it with actively engaging the taste buds, not bypassing them. Little about Pompous Ass is crazy, but it represents everything I want in a sessionable ale. Smooth, filling and a great combination of quality ingredients. My fridge is never without one or two of these in it, so I can share when you drop by.
I have been wanting to hit up this brewery for a while and it is on my list of things I want to do next year. Rest assured the Drunk Polkaroo will be safely going down the QEW to a city near you and exploring the tasty brews made by your hometown brewery. I may even stay over, so maybe we can have breakfast before I head on home.
One more to go, but for now, why not head out to the LCBO or even the grocery store and grab a 4 pack of this beauty. You will not regret it and maybe you too can show off your Pompous Face.
A dignified head nod to Sir Fuggled Doublebottom and the brewers at Great Lakes for their beautiful beer. A well deserved Polkie for a straight out awesome brewery!

Maybe this could replace the selfie.

Great beer for camping as well.

29 December 2015

What I Want for 2016

More time with the most wonderful woman in my life
would be the perfect way to spend 2016.
Looking back is always fun, provided you don't get all freaked out at the stupid stuff you have done in your life. My last year has been nothing short of amazing. I remained smoke free, stopped binge drinking crappy beer, found the courage to fight back against my depression and social anxiety and of course I started this little journey to share with you. Writing this blog has been cathartic for many reasons, the least of which is that I felt like I had a voice again. Many times I would get bogged down in the worries of everyday life like bills, repairs, work and sometimes, just living. Nothing earth shattering, but when you face an ever growing cloud that won't go away, even the smallest tasks seem insurmountable. Writing frees me to think of the good I have done and can do. It allows my mind to speak what often I would keep inside. It seems like I am only focusing on beer, but to me each post represents a victory over my own depression. I can now make conscious decisions to do the right thing for myself, as opposed to wallowing in a drunken stupor. I do miss being able to not care about things, it is much simpler, but it is more rewarding to have presence in my own life. All of this leads to the title of my post, What I Want for 2016.
These things, not all beer related , are goals I am going to set and hopefully achieve in the new year. With the help of those around me, I want to continue to my journey and experience all that life has to offer me. Also, there are so many new beers to try.
  1. Live a healthier lifestyle - Seems counterintuitive for a beer drinking fat guy to want to live healthier, but hear me out. I am verging on my mid forties and have been overweight for most of my life. I know this will lead to problems as I age, so dropping some of this excess baggage would help. I don't think there are any quick fixes out there, so to me, it means eating better and most importantly getting off my ass and moving my body. Mrs. Polkaroo and I are going to start walking in the evening and hopefully things pick up from there. Anything beats doing nothing
  2. Write or create something every day - Simply putting words to the keyboard and writing a review of a beer can be wonderful for me. Other times I like to work with my hands and build something for the house. Decks on decks in the Grotto is my motto. I need to update my office, as I actually use it now. Bookcases, some paint and accessories will breath new life into my space. I love the challenge of creating something out of nothing and I will get my butt in gear on this one early in the new year.
  3. Tell the people I love that I love them more often - So many times we go about our daily lives and forget about this gesture. Tell the people who are important to you how you feel. You'll feel better saying I love you and meaning it. Life is funny and sometimes we don't get to say goodbye to people before they leave us, so say it loud and say it often. I am going to try.
  4. Forgive myself and others - In the same vein as the last one, it does you no good to carry a grudge. Against someone who has hurt you or yourself for something you did. Letting go is very hard for me and it requires a conscious effort to remind myself that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. No one is out to get you, don't let yourself get led down the garden path on that one, it goes to dark and lonely places. Forgiveness has brought me peace and I hope to get even better at it as the year goes on.
    We do love a good game of pool at Merle's.
    Have fun - I used to do so many fun and exciting things. The only problem was that I only remember portions of those events because I would also be drinking heavily. Luckily I have a wonderful wife who has stood by me and I want to return that favour by making life fun again. I want to go out and visit places that interest both of us. Making time in your week for something fun to do with your significant other is difficult at times when life bogs down, but making that time, no matter how small can be a huge game changer. It doesn't always mean spending gobs of cash on a trip or things, but simply could be curling up with a movie or playing a silly board game. Whatever comes next will be better though, because I will be present for all of it. Let's go have some fun.
  6. Do something nice for myself - During my life, I never considered what the future held. I was a here and now guy and damn the torpedoes of consequence. That has changed and will continue to evolve. But I now know that I have to be kind to me as well. My life is slowly coming into focus and there are things I want to do that are just for me. I hope to have company, but there is also something to be said for the quiet contemplation of life. Being solitary sometimes isn't a bad thing if it doesn't separate you from the wider world. So I will treat myself every now and then to some things just for me. I have to make myself a priority sometimes, but also remember not to do it at the expense of anyone else. Love is often the hardest gift to give yourself, so remember that you are a good and deserving person too.
  7. Unplug and be present - This one is easy. When we went out the other day, Kat and I turned our phones on airplane mode and just existed in each other. We spent the day laughing and talking, never once having to check our devices for "important" messages or posts. So this year I want to do that more. A big theme of changing my life is being Present. Be where you are and not somewhere else. What that means is put down your phone and look around you. There are people, places and things going on that only require you to be in the moment to really enjoy them. The internet will be there tomorrow, today is here right now and I don't want to miss it.
  8. We eat pretty good, but maybe we need some
    more exciting flavours
    Try new foods - Beer has helped me try so many new flavours and textures. It has taken me around the world in a glass and I am so thankful I discovered that before it was too late. But that alone isn't enough. We are committed to expanding our food world as well. There is a pattern to what we eat in the Polkaroo household, although not intentional. We probably exist on the same 6 or 7 meals almost all year. This has to change. Why stick to the same old tired dinners when there are some incredibly tasty things in the world. I am often dismissive of anything new because I love my comfort zone. Pushing out of that will no doubt lead to some funny tasting things but also will lead to me to discover a whole range of things I didn't know I liked. Maybe it's time I gave Sushi another go. I know Kat would like that.
  9. Stay on Budget - This is one thing I really worked hard on in 2015. We lived paycheque to 4 days before paycheque for pretty much our entire relationship. This year we worked hard at fixing that and it has made a massive difference in our lives. The lack of stress at worrying if the gas or electricity is going to be shut off is just amazing. It isn't always easy saying no to ourselves or others when we just don't have the money, but it is getting easier. Saving up for a big purchase or trip has made us better consumers because we consider if we really need something and not just what our impulses want. Our budget is organic and grows and changes with what we learn as we go along. I have no doubt we will make mistakes, but at least now we can recognize them and actively fix them as opposed to ignoring them like we used to. A life can be lived on a budget and we are going to make it the best we can.
  10. Explore Beer - I didn't intend for this to be about the things I wanted to better in my life. My first concept was all the beer related things I wanted to do in 2016. Visiting certain breweries, tracking down elusive brews (Whales) and maybe getting into video blogging my beer tastings were things I was going to write about. I still will, but as I began to write, it occurred to me that I am more than just a beer guy. I am a son, brother, uncle, friend and most importantly to me, Husband to an incredible woman. These are the things that matter to me the most. But I wouldn't have any of it if I didn't see through the haze of Macro lagers that used to dominate my life. Knowledge about what I drink has made me more aware of so many other things in my life. So beer will remain my hobby, maybe even my life's work if I can ever get my home brewery going. But it is not the only thing I have going for me. You will see me at some festivals and breweries for sure this year. I know I can go out and not get hammered because I have done it.  I'll take you along with me and maybe we can meet up and grab a pint together.
Remember, Pinkies out!
There you have it. I wasn't planning on doing ten things, it just kind of happened. By no means is this all I want to do in 2016. But as I have said before, I write for myself as much as to share it with you. I reread my own stuff from time to time to see what I was thinking and more importantly, to me anyway, to make sure I keep moving forward. I want to thank everyone who follows along at home and I promise to keep being honest and upfront about my life journey whenever I post. I am just starting to live my life and it really makes me smile to know you are there with me.
Cheers everyone!
Happy New Year!
Keep on believing!
See you all in 2016!

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #3 - Long Dark Voyage to Uranus

Just something about the name makes me smile.
Long ago, in the barren macro lager land of the Drunk Polkaroo's past lies a sad little truth. I never understood what it meant to drink good beer. Anything but the coldest, flavourless lager would chase me from the table and make me hide behind my tall boy of Old Milwaukee.
Moving my taste buds away from not feeling anything at all through drinking better beer led me to discover how much I love the dark stouts of Winter. So many flavours, textures and combinations of ingredients make for some amazing beers. This might be one of the best. Not to mention, what a name!
Gravenhurst, Ontario brewer Sawdust City makes many good beers, but I looked forward to no beer more than the return of Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus. I bought the beer for the wacky name and wanted it again because of what was inside. I rarely quote the blurbs found on the beer I drink, preferring to craft my own not so eloquent description and I will, but this is too much to pass up
"What's in a name? Uranus by any other name would smell so sweet. That was written many eons ago by Toftorg Golshop, Ruler of the Third Empire of Uranus on one of his many voyages to earth (it was stolen and re-written by "you know who" sometime later).
And while on earth for one of those trips, Toftorg grew fond of the rich, robust stouts of Northern England. Designed to withstand the grueling intergalactic voyage from Earth to Uranus, "Long, Dark Voyage" is a Uranal Stout of the highest order. Ass puckeringly bitter and dry as a bone, this dark chocolate treat is quite dangerous and can sneak up on you from behind if you don't keep your wits about you. You've been warned! "
I mean, come one. Who doesn't want to try this seasonal beer after that.
Pours thick as motor oil, with an impenetrable black colour and a creamy bronze head. Smells like dark chocolate. Tip the glass back and get a thick mouthfeel that cascades coffee, bittersweet chocolate and roasted barley malt. Hint of caramel and licorice add to the complexity of the darkness. Driest stout I've ever had and the finish is a great bitter punch that leaves you wanting more. At 9.5% ABV and 60 IBUs, this isn't a beer for the weak of heart.
This brew was the first time in my life I waited for a beer to come back. I never knew that such a thing as seasonality existed when it came to malted barley and hops. Learning the patterns and tastes of each season really is a treat and I appreciate what they bring as the world turns. These dark, high alcohol beers are perfect for the long cold winter here in Canada. they warm you up and give you a healthy glow as we hibernate and wait for the first light of spring.
I am in love with this beer and have one set aside for next year to age as well as one in the fridge for New Year's Eve. Nothing but great beers that night.
Congratulations Sawdust City and Long Dark Voyage to Uranus on your Polkie win!
Cheers and let's go exploring!
Seems like these guys should get together and make a beer.
I know, sometimes it's like I'm 12.

28 December 2015

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #4 - Riptide Rye Pale Ale

Really just a great beer for watching the game.
Todays Polkie goes back the farthest in the year. I had this one in April and it has stuck with me all that time. Playing out in the background was the most exciting time of the year for a hockey fan, the First Round of the NHL playoffs. Nothing is better than being bombarded with multiple games every night when all the teams are fully committed and ready to win the Stanley Cup. I can barely keep up with all the action and am constantly changing between games and staying up way past my bedtime.
It is Forked River Brewing Company from London, Ontario that makes the grade from this beauty time with their Riptide Rye Pale Ale.
 This brew was a winner from the sniff. Just a malty dream with the right touch of spicy rye. It poured a slightly amber gold colour with a thin off white head, Creamy mouth feel that led to a wonderful hopped up finish. It grabbed my attention with the play between the malted barley and rye. While not a barrel aged beer, it has led me to not be afraid of the spiciness that rye can give a beer. I have really began to open up to much stronger and bold beers thanks to this brew.
I've gone on to have many barrel aged or conditioned beers this year. They can be a little intimidating when you start to experience bourbon or whisky flavours that you may not be used to. I am not a liquor drinker at all but  I am really starting to dig the robust oak and vanilla flavours that they can produce. It may be time to revisit Scotch and well made Whisky again. That's a whole other planet and one I would like to see in person.
The fact that it stayed in my memory for so long and after so many beers says something of the quality these guys put out. I have had a few more of their selections and while they were equally outstanding, it is for being such a standout that I award the #4 Polkie to Forked River and the well balanced Riptide.
Cheers and I look forward to opening the one my dad brought back from his journeys to Windsor when I enjoy a pop or two on New Year's Eve.

27 December 2015

Beer of the Week - December 20th to December 26th

With all the Christmas craziness and the Polka Dot Awards, I wasn't sure if I would post a Beer of the Week (BOW) for this particular week. But I had a few outstanding brews and this one was just a pleasant surprise.
I have proclaimed my love for Ontario's Beau's All Natural Brewing Company on many occasions. I love their innovative and creative beers and art. Rarely am I disappointed by a beer I purchase with their logo on it. This beer was no different.
80 Shilling is billed as a Scotch style ale, so I was expecting a boozier mouth feel and was pleasantly surprised at just how sessionable this beer was.  Only 4.7 % ABV, so it is not going to get you all sloppy drunk after one or two.
 It poured a deep amber colour with a nice lacing head. Toasted malt smell. When I brought it to my lips, it had a wonderful graham cracker and caramel note. The biscuity flavour plays across the taste buds and toasted malts create a beautiful mouthfeel. There is a bit of a hoppy middle with some bitterness, but it finish very smooth.
I went out the next day and grabbed another bottle, it was that good.
In the middle of all the delightful, heavy stouts and porters I am finding this season, it was a real treat to find such a clean, lighter beer. Not a big bold brew, but more something you could enjoy around the card table on a Wednesday night with people you love.
This beer is part of their Farm Table series and like the others is a unique but traditional take on the individual styles they are trying to brew.
Well done Beau's! I am so very happy that the final BOW of 2015 goes to these guys. No doubt next year will bring us many new things and anytime you see their distinctive bottles, take a chance and grab one. You will not regret it!

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #5 - Torpedo Extra IPA

Fine beer and Christmas. What a life!
For the last three summers, Mrs. Polkaroo and I have been lucky enough to be able to spend a week at a friends cottage. It is located on Canada's South Coast in Crystal Beach and I like to refer to it as "My Little Slice of Heaven".
The last two years we have gone there we have headed over the border for a little day trip and I explored the local Wegman's to purchase their easy to get American craft beers. I have already proclaimed my love for their $9.99 Craft your own Six pack plan as part of my post about Beer in the Grocery Store.
This year I have grown as a beer drinker and didn't crush all of my new beers in the 6 days we were down there. I had one or two a day and really tried to enjoy them. Today's beer is one that made the trip home in the cooler and I really loved what it brought to the table enough to ask my wife to get me another one when she went Black Friday shopping last month.
Sierra Nevada makes its second appearance on The Polkies with their Torpedo Extra IPA. I was a little scared when I saw the "extra IPA", but I had nothing to fear.
It is pretty strong at 7.1 % ABV and 65 IBUs. Not crazy, but big. Pours a deep gold with a thinner head that stays with you all through the beer. Smells of mango and hops. It has a malty texture that yields grapefruit notes with some pine and resin flavours. There is a creamy feeling to the mouthfeel, but it has a sharp bitter finish that lingers on the tongue in the nicest way. Bold and juicy in a way that makes me want another. The dry hopping technique takes this beer up into the stratosphere.
I wish I could thank the  Sierra Nevada brewers personally for their wonderful IPAs that really made me stop and consider the bitter brews again. After this I wanted to retry all the beers I had dismissed as too piney or citrusy. It presents the IPA in a light that is both bitter, yet smooth and enjoyable.
We are headed over the border again this week and I am going to get myself another couple of these beers. It is a must for New Year's Eve and beyond. Never judge a beer by its label, sometimes they can surprise you in the most wonderful ways if you give them a chance.
Cheers to Sierra Nevada for their second Polkie and I raise a glass to the Torpedo for making me a better beer drinker.

26 December 2015

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #6 - Coast to Coastless

Jinx makes her feelings known about beer. She loves to watch me drink it.
As long as I have treats for her.
There are times in my life when I wish I could go back and smack myself around for stupid things. Dismissing the Flying Monkeys Brewery out of Barrie as a crazy pine tree obsessed beer maker was one of them.
When I turned forty a few years ago, my friends threw me a Roast and it was awesome. One of my cousins brought me Hoptical Illusion from these guys and I couldn't stomach it. Too bitter and piney I cried. So misinformed, so dumb. Oh the beers I've missed.
I no longer make that mistake and have actively sought to correct my mistakes. This brewery makes some really fine beers and is not afraid to push the boundaries in reimagining old styles. This year I bought Chocolate Manifesto and was blown away at how amazing it was. This beer was even better.
Coast to Coastless is a collaboration beer between four Canadian craft Brewers : Flying Monkeys, Trou Du Diable, Phillips Brewing and Garrison Brewing. I am just getting into these colab-beers and finding them fantastic.
Billed as an Imperial Extra Special Bitter, I was already drooling before I popped the top. I love that style of beer and getting a bigger, bolder version sounded awesome.
 Pours a beautiful amber colour with a thick foamy head. The toasted malty, bread, caramel explodes in.the first sip and keeps getting better. At 7.6 % ABV, it is a warming up the body beer for sure, but not boozy at all. It is like a warm fireplace that just makes you feel all cozy and right with the world. 
I really love  when a beer transcends what I expect into something beautiful. This one goes in that category.
 I managed to find another one and have added it to the queue for New Year's Eve. It is sure to remind me that giving someone a second chance is just as important as doing the same with a brewery! Run out to the LCBO and get one before they are gone, you wont be disappointed.
On the subject of the LCBO, do yourself a favour and download their App for your phone. It is great for finding this or any other brew with a keyword search. Easy to use and it helps locate the closest store to you with how much they have in stock and the cost.
Find out all about it here LCBO Phone App.
Cheers to Flying Monkeys and their inclusion in the Polkies. Well earned and this is one brewery I won't pass up again when I see something new from them.
Cups up b'yes!

25 December 2015

Christmas Day Bonus Post - Worst Beer of 2015 - Lift by Sleeman

Just stop. This is ridiculous.

As much as I love to taste craft beer, I do not ignore the offerings of it's older, more experienced and yet somehow clueless Macro cousins. My pursuit of the Perfect Beer is nothing if not thorough, so I ignore no new beer found at the LCBO or the more infrequently visited The Beer Store. More on why I don't go to the Beer Store that often in the new year.
In the past, had I made a list of my favourite beers and then picked the worst, I have no doubt some big hop bomb would have made the latter. I have grown as a beer drinker and learned to appreciate all the subtle and not so subtle notes in most of the different styles of beer. Earlier this year I probably would have been leaning towards a witbier or saison. but even those styles have shown me the error of my ways and I continue to be amazed at what I find when I pop the top on one of those orangey buggers.
So that leads me back to macro brewers. They make a consistent brew. Try a Canadian, Coors Light or Blue and you will be assured of getting the same bland, tasteless beer made to get you drunk as you always have. That is what they do. Very little in the way of experimentation. That is not what generates billions in revenue. So little about what they do is really bad, just not in my wheel house anymore. I described what made me move away from them in my post Quantity Vs. Quality Beers.
So picking on these industry straddling giants is easy for those of us who love to explore all craft beer has to offer. Making fun of how crappy and tasteless their beer is almost a daily ritual on Facebook or Instagram. I generally stay away from the topic, because let's face it, I am not all that removed from being that guy. The guy who made fun of craft beer drinkers for being hipsters and thinking they were so different. Little did I know I would change my tune and realize it wasn't about being different as much as drinking good beer made you enjoy life more.
I think I am better informed now than I was to objectively pick the beer that made me cringe more than any other in 2015. It came down to the usual shitty lagers and ales made by the big boys of beer. Two stood out above the rest and were my only half star reviews of the year.
 My Beervent day 17 "gift" of Oculto from Texas was a terrible sprite like beer aged on tequila staves. Made by the guys who give you the bud lime-a-rita is all I need to say. But even that could not dislodge a product I assume was meant to be beer I tried this summer.
Sleeman Breweries from Guelph makes some beer I can enjoy on occasion. Their Original Draught is something I have been known to consume. Not so much anymore, but if you offer me one, I'd drink it with you. MacLays is an easy drinking lager found in my fridge from time to time, especially in the summer. But they are not a small brewer, having been bought by Japanese giant Sapporo in 2006. They also brew that beer here, so when you get your "imported" beer from Japan, it is actually brewed up Hwy. 6 in Guelph.
All of this leads me to a beer I described as having a long distance relationship with hops and barley when I reviewed it in July. Sleeman Lift was marketed as a performance focused beer that contained coconut water. That was my first clue I was in for a real treat. I am not really that focused on my performance when I drink beer, except for my ability to spell correctly. Crap is spelled with one "C" right?
It poured an almost clear yellow with a quickly disappearing head. Smelled a little coconut, but not much. When I drank it, I had to check that I didn't accidentally drop my glass in the pool. Oddly metallic, with little in the way of body or flavour left me wanting anything resembling beer. It was so inoffensive that I was offended I had paid money for a marketing slogan. I am sure it is refreshing, but so is drinking water out of the hose when you are doing yard work. When you make Bud Light look like a stout, you're doing it wrong.
So for making a product I hope was cooked up by the advertising department and not actual brewers, because why do that to us? And for delivering exactly no "lift" in my drinking experience I award Sleeman Lift my Empty Dot Award of 2015. Well deserved for this weird, tasteless garbage water. Not for me, but really, not for anyone.
I'd say Cheers like I usually do, but I think if you are drinking one of these you shouldn't really be that enthusiastic and maybe need to re-examine your life choices. I know I did when I drank it.
Better days ahead my friends, just avoid this like the plague and all will be well.
Writing about this made me sad.  Sorry you had to read that.
Here's a picture of my cat being cute at Christmas to bring you some joy.

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #7 - Farm Table Marzen

Beer and baseball, my night was amazing.
 Today my pick for the Polkie #7 might be one of the most innovative and creative breweries in the province. Located near Ottawa in Van Leek is Beau's All Natural Brewing Company.
 When I was winnowing down the 400+ beers I had this year to get to the top ten, these guys had a shockingly large amount of their beers in the top 100. Their distinctive 600 ml. bottles and intriguing label and packaging always grab my attention when I go into the LCBO.
I had to make some really hard choices and the one beer from Beau's that kept popping into my head more than any other, and there were many, was the Marzen from the Farm table Series. A great fall beer and something I know I am anticipating already for next year.

All of Canada lost their collective mind when Jose dropped the bomb.
I think one of the reasons I crush on this beer is that I had it during the "Bat flip" game 5 between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers. I am a casual baseball fan and my favourite team since I was a kid are the KC Royals (stop booing). But I was very happy to see the Jays back in the playoffs and the excitement they generated in all of Canada. This game was something I would have been 8 or 10 Old Milwaukee tall boys deep by the time it got real interesting. I wouldn't have witnessed all the craziness and that is one of the reasons I love this beer. The other one is that it is simply an absolute beauty of a brew.
I'll just leave that here for a second.
Now back to the beer. Pours an orange amber colour with a nice thin head. This is a malt forward beer in smell and taste. bready, biscuit flavours of toasted barley are enhanced by a caramel note. Dry, slightly bitter hopped back end produced a clean crisp finish. Wonderful texture and composition. They describe their Farm Table Series as sessionable and being brewed true to tradition and I think that is something bang on the nose. I have had a couple of other from the series and they are great.
This beer is a must if you want to experience true flavour without a big alcohol punch (only 5.5%), strong crazy hops or bitter dark malts. It is the perfect beer to transition from the lighter fare of the summer to the darkness of the winter.
I will let you in on something else. The lovely wife has agreed that for one of our summer vacation trip this year we can head to the northeast and ... Surprise! That is where Beau's is located. I am just in the initial planning stages, but I am over the top at getting to see and taste all that I have read about. Part of what I am trying to do by slowing down and really exploring all beer has to offer means pushing outside my comfort zone of staying home all the time. This should be epic!
Let me raise my Glass to Beau's All Natural and give them props for their Polkie win!
Well deserved and I look forward to the exciting new tastes 2016 will bring.

24 December 2015

Christmas Eve Beers - Grab some and come on over!

Merry Christmas from the Polkaroos!

After I posted one of the Polkie Awards the other day, one of my friends wanted to know if these brews were available at the LCBO and easy to find. It got me to thinking about the beers I have been lucky enough to try this year and especially in the last month with Beervent 2015.
There are so many great beers at the liquor store that I usually walk around twice before making my selection. Do I wish we had even more selection? Hell yeah! But I am realistic and know that change is slow, especially at a government run entity. Be happy that we have any choice, the alternative of a macro beer universe is frightening. It makes me smile when I find small and new breweries popping up at the local LC's I visit.  I continually ask for different and unique beers whenever I go shopping and if we all do this, they will listen. Trust me, keep believing and we can keep the craft beer revolution alive!
Here then is a list of easy to find and thoroughly enjoyable beers to bring with you  when you go over to the family's house tonight. Or any night, because a beer goes better with people you love.
***I did this pretty quickly this morning before going off to work. Check around when you go into your local LCBO and I am sure you can find these and many more. Pick up something you haven't tried before, you might be surprised. These are just 12 I love that I saw last night at the liquor store on  Hwy. 20 in Hamilton, Ontario.***
    1. Goose Island IPA (Green Can) Extra Special Bitter - English style beer with a nice bready, nutty flavour (Goose Island - USA)
    2. Anchor IPA (6 pack, stubby bottles) American IPA - Subtle malty back with a nicely balanced hop presence. (Anchor Steam USA)
    3. Hockley Dark (Black Can) English Brown Ale - Chocolate, vanilla, cocoa and coffee. Great, smooth drinking ale. A little roasty, but very drinkable. (Hockley Valley Canada)
    4. Fireside ESB (Red Can) Extra Special/Strong Bitter - Bready smell with toffee, caramel and malt notes. Dry finish with a little bitterness. (Collingwood Brewery Canada)
    5. Harbinger (White Can) American IPA - Mango citrus flavour with a  nice light malt body. finishes a little more bitter (Descendant's Canada)
    6. Hop Bot (Yellow Can) American IPA - Citrus, mango and pine. Bitter and a strong beer at 7.1%. Dry, bitter finish. (Hop City Canada)
    7. Pompous Ass Ale (Dark Can, good art) English Pale Ale - Low ABV at 4.2%, nutty, bready and biscuit malted loveliness. (Great Lakes Canada)
    8. Old North (Big brown bottle) Mocha Porter - Creamy texture, coffee forward with roated malt and dark chocolate. Bitter on the back, but smooth. (Lake of Bays Canada)
    9. Samuel Adams Boston Lager (6 pack, blue box) Amber Lager - One of the classics and very drinkable. Malted with a smooth backend.  (Boston Beer Co. USA)
    10. Harp (Blue Can) Lager - Guinness makes a smooth, drinkable lager with nice bread and floral notes. Nothing fancy, but better than a Coors Light. (Guinness, Scotland)
    11. Nut Brown Ale (Brown Can) American Brown Ale - Cocoa popping. Malty and a bready/bicuit flavour. Smooth and crisp. (Black Oak, Canada)
    12. Vanilla Porter Draught (Off white Can) - Vanilla Porter - Like dessert in a can. Vanilla, coffee and chocolate flavours. Creamy head and smooth textures. (Mill Street, Canada)
These are but a sampling of what I love. Please forgive me if I've missed a favourite or two, but the holidays have got me in a rush.
Merry Christmas!
Happy and Safe Drinking!

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #8 - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Better than expected is always good.
One of the things I looked for in my countdown of my Best Beers of 2015 was not only the unique, seasonal offerings; I also wanted to reflect on what I drank just to relax and enjoy a beer.
California brewery Sierra Nevada came into my sights in the summer and really hasn't left it since. As I got more into reading about craft beers, these guys kept coming up , but I hadn't found any here in Canada yet.  I finally saw a sixer of their Pale Ale in the LCBO one day and thought I'd give it a try. At worst I could pawn them off on my friends if it wasn't my style. Boy was I wrong. It soon came to replace Curmudgeon as my everyday treat as it became harder to acquire my early season go to beer in the liquor store.
It pours a clear deep gold colour with a thin white head. Smelling the hops and malt. It has a full body that combines the malted barley so well with the bitterness of the cascade hops. I found that I really was digging the bitterness more than I thought and this was probably the beginning of the end for Macro Lagers in my beer fridge. Why waste good money on shitty beer when you could drink this and really enjoy it. It also caused me to think maybe I should revisit some of the other pale ales I had written off as "too Hoppy".
The American West Coast pale ale isn't for everyone, but with their sweet, biscuity malt backbone, they are definitely worth a try for that new craft beer drinker. It tempers the piney flavours associated with hops into something quite sessionable. The fear of the face pucker is something you needn't worry about with this fine brew.
I know this is a easily available, year round beer. It isn't new in 2015, nor is it especially unique. The reason I include it in my Top Ten is that I know it was brews like this that helped deliver me from Quantity beers. Without this beer and others like it, I never would have stopped to consider what I was drinking as opposed to how many I could drink.
I have no doubt that next year will bring me more new beers that will challenge my perceptions, but Sierra Nevada Pale ale will remain a beer that I keep chilling for when you stop by for a visit.
The Polkies continue tomorrow with another fine brew, but for now, I am going to get myself a Pale Ale from the fridge and put my feet up for a spell.
Congratulations to Sierra Nevada and their very fine beer for their Polkie win!

23 December 2015

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #9 - Kentucky Bastard (2015)

Santa tested and approved.

One of the things I have come to appreciate about my beer is how it reflects the changing of the seasons. Lighter, floral brews come out in the summer, followed by their spiced and fuller cousins in the fall. But no season has grabbed me by the taste buds quite as much as winter. These beers come on full blast with big bold flavours. Stouts and Porters dominate my fridge as the mercury drops and it fills me with a dark, boozy happiness.
In honour of all the wonderful beers I have encountered this season, I knew one or two would make their way into the top ten and this beer from Burlington, Ontario brewery Nickel Brook was one of the most memorable of that bunch. 2015's Kentucky Bastard climbs into the #9 spot in the Polkies with its large flavour profile and heavy 12 % ABV.
I was never a fan of barrel aged beers. Not being a liquor drinker meant I often was turned off by the flavours imparted by the aging process. But as my palate continues to expand, I am beginning to appreciate these seasonal favourites.
Nickel Brook has taken their already delicious Bolshevik Bastard and aged it for eight months in bourbon barrels. This has imparted a wonderful oaky flavour into the stout. Pouring very thick and black, it has a thinner tan head that dissipates but rims the glass. It had a big strong chocolate scent. The first sip was a revelation. Dark chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla and that bourbon flavour of earthy oak notes came together to make a fine beer. It became smoother as I settled in and the alcohol kick was warming to the bones on a cool winter evening.
This beer was a slow sipper to consume. I really slowed down and enjoyed the evening with my wife. We watched cheesy Christmas specials and basked in the glow of our tree. It's high ABV means you don't pound this like a crazy man and that is why I include it here. Enjoying a big beer is something I could never have done before. I would have been turned off by all the complex flavours and rushed through it to get to my Quantity beer. Now I know better.
I have purchased another one to age. This is a first for me and I look forward to seeing what happens to this beer in a year. I have been told that it enhances and changes what is present in the brew. Smoothing out the edges and bringing forth more complex flavours. I look forward to that.
For now, run over to the brewery if you can or hit up your local LCBO and grab one. It is not your average beer and that is what gives it a spot on my countdown.
The Polkies roll along and congratulations to Nickel Brook and their lovely Kentucky Bastard!

22 December 2015

Polka Dot Awards 2015 #10 - Curmudgeon IPA

Sitting poolside with my Curmudgeon
I was looking back at the Year in Beer 2015 and when trying to decide my personal Top Ten I was drawn to two distinct divisions of beers. Those I had tried once or twice due to availability or seasonality and my everyday or "Fridge Beers". Curmudgeon IPA somehow falls into both categories and for most of the spring and early summer it was always in my brown bag as I left the LCBO.
Cambridge, Ontario's Grand River Brewing Company makes this beauty as a seasonal brew from late winter to fall and defines a curmudgeon as:
1. A bad-tempered or surly person
2. An ill-tempered (and frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas or opinions.
I was both of those things a lot of the time and this beer spoke to me in both its lovely grumpy faced label and the brew contained therein. They change and tweak the recipe every year and I was very pleased to have found it in the year that it was brewed as an English IPA. If you have been following along at home, you know that I have grown to love this style of beer on my journey as I described in my post How I came to Love IPAs.
I chose Curmudgeon to be on the list for a simple reason. It was the first beer this year that wormed its way into my heart. I really fell in love with it as the spring turned to summer and it was the one thing I counted on when my day at work was done. I had not yet made my transition to Quality Beers and still over consumed on a regular basis. But when I grabbed this stubby brown bottle out of the fridge, I slowed down a bit.
It pours a copper colour with a lovely white head. Smelling of biscuits and toasted malts. When I took a sip, it stopped the clock for a minute. Nutty with a nicely malted body. The hops bitterness builds as you drink this beer. Not a crazy bitter beer, but one that leads you gently into the land of English Pale Ales and all they have to offer.
I think this is a good place to start. Great beer makes everything seem a little better and this one was the first time I added a Craft Beer to my regular rotation as opposed to just trying it once and moving on.
I look forward to what Grand River does with Curmudgeon this year. Who knows, maybe I'll like it even better when I finally get to crack one open in the new year. But for now, I raise a glass and salute this beer and applaud the first Polkie award of 2015.
Curmudgeon on Untappd

21 December 2015

The Best Beers of 2015 - An Overview

The Drunk Polkaroo goes camping. Great beer, to bad about the glass.

Another year has almost come and gone. 2015 was momentous in my own for life for many reasons. The least of which was my decision to stop being a quantity beer pounder and to focus on drinking well made, quality beers. To celebrate this and so many other great things about this year I present to you, fellow traveller of the Malted Barley Road, The Drunk Polkaroo Top Ten Beers of 2015. The very glamorous Polka Dot Awards or Polkies will be awarded for my favourite brews.
  By no means do I think I am judging these beers on anything but what they meant to me.  I grew as a person and a consumer of beer this year. In doing so, I began to appreciate that all beers are not created equal and that the decisions I make about what to drink should not be influenced by price or volume. These beers were not just put on the list because they are highly rated (by me), but because they each gave me something new and different on my journey.
I am going to post one beer a day beginning with #10 on December 22nd, 2015 and counting down to the very best on New Year's Eve.
I tried more than 400 different beers this year from big bold Imperial Stouts to light floral Pilsners. I have merely begun my quest to find the Perfect Beer. I am still learning and hope to take you with me as I explore all beer has to offer. This Top Ten is a reflection of this growing palate and is meant to represent where I am now and where I hope to go.
So check back every morning. Hopefully you will find a beer you haven't had yet and give it a try.  Maybe I'll remind you of an old favourite and you can seek it out.
This is something I have been looking forward to for a while, but I am still not sure what beer will be Number one. It is just too damn hard to choose.
 But I can and will let you in on how I get there and what I tasted as I made my way from January to December.
Can it be Summer again?