Draft Magazine’s Top 25 Beers of 2009

Draft Magazine recently put out their special annual Best of Beer issue. Inside its glossy pages are lists of the 150 Best Beer Bars, as well as the 25 Beers of the Year. I’d like to take a minute to recognize some of the best beer bars in NYC that were singled out, including Blind Tiger and Barcade. While some people give Barcade grief for its ‘gimmick’, it is indeed a quality house of brews. Blind Tiger is, well, just stellar.

DBA also got a nod though its whiskey and scotch lists are more impressive than its bottled beer list, which is still sizable. Sadly, George Keeley was snubbed and, though I’d like to keep that little gem tucked in my pocket with my beer money, I want the world to know that it is a glorious destination.

The Hopleaf and the Map Room in Chicago both got their necessary press, as did Sheffield’s (thanks to Nick A. for all of those introductions). Santa Monica-based Father’s Office, home of one of the finest burgers in the contiguous 48, also made the list (thanks to B-Doc for the intro to that place, and demanding I sample the burger despite the $200 sushi dinner I had literally just eaten).

Alas, not one Dallas location made the list, though the East listed a Boston bar named Deep Ellum. Gingerman in Houston made the cut, too. Big D, we’ve got work to do.

On to the main event though: the beer.

So as not to upset the folks at Draft, I won’t just list all the beers, but I’d like to mention a couple. First, there were a couple that were no surprise, namely Duvel (because it is simply luscious), Utopias (because it’s crazy), and Firestone Walker‘s IPA (because FW makes every list).

However, I like that Draft went out and picked some brews that were daring, though not just shock-value beers – beers that make you stop and think. Cuvee de Castleton, by Captain Lawrence, is an American Sour Ale. I’ve never had this particular brew – and sour beers are an acquired taste, to be sure – but I’ve had a lot of their other offerings and I always like seeing an Empire State brewery make it big. Sour beers might make a splash with the headiest of beer geeks, but the real world wouldn’t sip them twice, so cheers to Draft for that pick.

Another great selection is New Glarus‘ Wisonsin Belgian Red. Aside from the fact that this is great brewery – and the favorite of my brewing compatriot Vin – the brewmaster has a serious ‘stache and it was the source of some drama, namely some great beer at a terrible bar (sorry Bucky fans). Also, this is a fruit beer, one that might not hit the highest consumer demographic.

One final shout-out to my man, Garrett Oliver for his collaboration with Hans-Peter Drexler of Schneider: Hopfen-Weisse, the hophead’s wheat beer. Or the wheat freak’s hoppy beer. You get what I’m saying.

For those of you not subscribed to Draft, do it.

Cheers to another year of fine beers.

And for your viewing pleasure:

A hirsute Brew Yorker finds himself at the Map Room, Chicago.

An old lady enjoys a brew at the Map Room, Chicago

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