Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Best of 2009: #2

Surly Wet

Brewery: Surly, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

Style: India Pale Ale

ABV: 7%

Rating: 5 stars

Wet hop/fresh hop beers were all over the place this year, especially this fall, and though I may be a bit biased, Surly's was the best. For reference, here are the others I had and how I rated them:

Minneapolis Town Hall Fresh Hop 2009: 3.5 stars. Needed more balance, though I realize that's a difficult task for a fresh hopped beer. Tasted sweaty.

Two Brothers Heavy Handed: 4 stars for both Cascade and Willamette versions. Cascade had delicious burps. Willamette was a bit creamier.

Founders Dry Hopped Pale Ale: 4 stars. Lighter hops, metallic backbone.

Avery Dry Hopped IPA: 3.5 stars. Incredibly bitter. Smelled like clover.

Boulder Hazed and Infused: 3.5 stars. A good beer. As you can see, most of these are solid. But not that memorable.

Left Hand Warrior IPA: 4.5 stars. Easily my favorite beer from this brewery. Round flavor, lasting bitterness.

Great Divide Fresh Hop: 4.5 stars. "Better than Surly Wet? Close, but not quite. Delicious Delicious."

Deschutes Hop Trip: 3.5 stars. Sweetest of the bunch.

Like I said, fresh hopped beers were everywhere. So what separates Surly's effort from the rest? I don't know. Maybe it was because I was on hand for the beer's release. Everything tastes better when it's being unveiled for the first time. And accompanied by spring rolls. Maybe it's because I love that Surly touch; the grapefruit, the huge roof-of-your-mouth pull you get after every sip.

Perhaps, though, it was because this wet hopper, as opposed to most on the list above, improved as I emptied it. These beers have a tendency to wear me out after a full 12 or 16 ounces. This one had just the right amount of balance to accompany the big hop pulse. Don't get me wrong, I love my hops as much as the next guy. But this one didn't have the 'eating a hop plant' bluntness that many do. At the time of my first tasting, I called it a triumph. And I stand by that statement.


Kris said...

I have to agree, this was one of my favorite wet hops of '09.

Derek said...

I'll have to agree with both of you. Wet was such an awesome fresh hop beer. One would really taste good right about now.

Hey Nils, did you end up making it to the blogger summit at Stubs? I don't think we met but suspiciously there is a guy who looks a lot like you in the picture we took at the end of the night. If that was you, I must apologize for not saying hi.

Cheers, DA

nils said...

yes. i was there, but arrived late. i was mistakenly hanging out with a bunch of beer reps and liquor store owners for a while. found my way back a few hours and a few beers in. i think you may have been at the other end of the table.

Derek said...

Shoot man, I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to visit. Glad you could make it though. I hope you made some good connections at the other party, ha ha. I guess we'll just have to plan another one soon. It was great to be able to read about your #1 beer of 2009. I was anxiously awaiting that one : )