You may wonder why this list exists. And why should you care about what beers I like to drink? After all, I hold no official title of beer expert (I should totally get my cicerone certification. Maybe next year.) I don’t really even claim to have great taste in beer (I totally have the best taste in beer). I’m not really good at brewing beer (f*ck you, my brother and I make the best home brew).
The fact is, I’m just really good at drinking beer. I’m drinking one right now as I type this (Uinta Trader, not a top 5 pick, but decent). I don’t know why you should read this—I only know why I should write it. I owe it to these beers to give them recognition for their warm embrace on many a cold night. For their sweet whisperings of bad ideas into my ears. For their tried and true ability to make me forget about the massive amounts of debt my writer’s salary provides. Here’s to you, beers.
Rockmill Brewery Saison Noir
Saison or farmhouse ale was originally brewed to quench the thirst of farm workers in Belgium. I like to play pretend and order them while imagining that I just got back from the fields where I spoke French while tending to my crop instead of just getting back from Grandview where I cleaned a bar. Typically these beers are light and fruity with a bit of spice, but Rockmill created a different kind of saison with notes of smoke, caramel, and roasted malts. This allowed me to continue my pretend game into the colder fall and winter months, and for that I am forever grateful. I have also been known to ask the bartender if I can open the bottle myself, because I love pulling the tiny cork out of those adorable little bottles.
Cisco Brewers Island Reserve Gose
Oh, the tragedy. I first met Cisco Gose when I saw a beer labeled “salt beer” on the draft list at The Olde Towne Tavern. What the hell is salt beer? Could it be my new obsession? I froze in place after the first sip, attempting to decode what I had just tried. This was something truly new and exciting for me. I imagined my future of shouting the merits of salt beer from the rooftops, and showing off to everyone my knowledge of this peculiar delicacy. I slid the glass over to my girlfriend and she lifted it to her mouth stopping just short of taking a sip. “Eww no way, this smells like vomit,” she exclaimed, sliding the tulip glass as far away as possible. “Come on,” I said, “it doesn’t smell like vomit, give it a chance.” She would not, and she told me to smell it again. Shit. It probably didn’t smell like vomit, but now my mind was tainted and I couldn’t shake it. Oh what could have been, Cisco Gose. We had our brief moment, but alas it could not last. I vow to let you challenge my palate again in 2015. I secretly pine for you in the wee hours of the morning.
Founders All Day IPA
This was without a doubt my most consumed beer of 2014. Low-ABV session beers have become my to go-to drink lately, and this was just what I was looking for. Perfect IPA flavor, but I didn’t feel like I was being taken advantage of after just one drink. Last summer, they released their 15-can pack, which coincided perfectly with my days spent at apartment complex pools where glass was not allowed. If I was in or around a pool I had this can in my hand. It is also important to note that this beer allowed me to simply respond “all day” when a bartender asked if I would like another beer. Well done, Founders.
I’d never met a Kolsch I liked until this year. I felt like at best they were boring and at worst they were undrinkable. New Holland Full Circle Kolsch made a valiant effort, but I quickly forgot about it and didn’t miss it much. I wanted to like the style, but I figured that it just wasn’t for me. When Land-Grant opened their brewery in Franklinton that all changed. Not boring, and very drinkable, this beer has held my hand through the best and worst performances that Little Rock’s karaoke nights had to offer. I’m a convert.
Jackie O’s Cellar Cuvee Number 7
My brother got this bottle for me back in 2013 but it sat in my fridge until the middle of 2014 waiting for the perfect time to open it. It turns out, the perfect time to open it was a normal Thursday night. I was thinking I would wait for some momentous occasion that would call for opening this extremely limited release, but then I got impatient and decided that occasion was Thursday. This American wild ale was beyond anything I had tried from the Athens brewery, and that’s saying a lot for a brewery with such a great lineup. A blend of dubbels aged in bourbon and cabernet barrels with cherries and raisons sounds like a lot to handle, but it was perfectly tart, sour, and soulful reminding me of what beer could be, and consequently, what Thursday could be.