Favourites of Ontario 2014

I figured I would put up my personal favourites of the year. Some of these are beers that were released for the first time this year, others are old standbys which remain undefeated in their category (according to me). I’m aware that I did not really break my list down by strict style but given the sheer number of distinct styles and tendency for overlap I decided to go with more general “categories” to prevent confusion. I have also included my favourite 2 releases of 2014.

Best Wheat-Based Beer: Side Launch Wheat 

Runners Up: Side Launch Colossus, Beau’s Ashnan

Best Rye-Based Beer: Flying Monkeys The Matador 2.0: El Toro Bravo 

Runners Up: Cameron’s RPA, Forked River Riptide

Best Saison / Farmhouse Beer: Bellwoods Farmageddon

Runners Up: Beau’s Siduri. Amsterdam / Great Lakes Ezra

Best British Style Pale Ale: Granite Brewing Best Bitter Special 

Runners Up:  Black Oak Pale Ale, Great Lakes Pompous Ass

Best American Pale Ale: Great Lakes Canuck Ale 

Runners Up: Publican House Square Nail Pale Ale, Augusta Ale,

Best IPA: Great Lakes My Bitter Wife

Runners Up: Amsterdam Boneshaker, Muskoka Mad Tom,

Best Imperial IPA: Nickel Brook / Sawdust City 11.05

Runners Up: Great Lakes RoboHop, Black Oak Ten Bitter Years, Bellwoods Witch Shark

Best Hoppy Dark Ale (“Black IPA”): Wellington (Extra) Terrestrial 

Runners Up: Great Lakes Apocalypse Later, Flying Monkeys Netherworld

Best Brown Ale: Black Oak Nut Brown Ale

Runners Up: Wellington County Dark Ale, Granite Peculiar

Best Porter: Mill Street Coffee Porter 

Runners Up: Amsterdam Stenhouse Porter,

Best Strong Porter: Bellwoods Donkey Venom

Runners Up: Cameron’s Obsidian, Bellwoods Bounty Hunter

Best Stout: Stonehammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout 

Runners Up: Bellwoods Grognard, Mill Street Cobblestone Stout

Best Imperial Stout: Amsterdam Tempest 2014 

Runners Up: Nickel Brook Winey Bastard, Beau’s Matt’s Sleepytime Stout

Best Strong Belgian Style: Black Oak Epiphany No.1

Runners Up: Bellwoods Grandma’s Boy,

Best Traditional Pale Lager: King Pilsner 

Runners Up: Creemore (Molson) Pilsner, Double Trouble Prison Break, Howe Sound Lager

Best Macro-Style Lager: Amsterdam (416) Local Lager 

Runners Up: Old Credit Pale Pilsner, Steam Whistle Pilsner, Cool Beer

Best Amber Lager: Beau’s Festivale Altbier

Runners Up: Creemore / Zum Schlüssel Collaboraton Altbier, Howe Sound Lager

Best Dark Lager: Silversmith Black Lager 

Runners Up: Hop City (Moosehead) 8th Sin

Best Strong Lager: Cameron’s Bourbon Barrel Deviator Doppelbock 

Runners Up: Amsterdam Springbock, Beau’s Hogan’s Goat (6.9%), Bush Pilot Norseman

Best Hoppy Lager: Flying Monkey’s Green Man 

Runners Up: Mad & Noisy (Molson) Hops & Bolts Imperial Pale Lager (5.3%), Hop City (Moosehead) Barking Squirrel,

TOP 3 OF 2014

Bellwoods Motley Cru 2014

Barrel Aged Imperial IPA? Hoppy Sour? This limited release by Bellwoods beautifully defied style conventions and challenged my palate. Flavours and aromas came in waves and were too many to list. In some ways its terribly sad that this was a brewed once, but I suppose it makes it all the more special.

Muskoka Detour 

This beer, while wonderful in and of itself also made me happy for what it represented: a greater focus on session ales. While I love high intensity beers as much as anyone, the lower-strength market has been sorely neglected and hopefully beers like this indicate a long overdue interest.

Nickel Brook / Sawdust City 11.05 

Without a doubt, the stealthiest beer I’ve had north of 10%. Even a hop load like the one in this beer couldn’t possibly hide this much booze on its own. An expertly crafted “Triple IPA”. The two breweries managed to stuff just about every hop note you can imagine (Citrus, pine, dank, ginger, tropical fruit, resin etc.) into the aroma and taste.

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