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2011 – From a hophead’s perspective!

Ive tried literary HUNDREDS of IPA’s this year, so all-in-all – it has truly been an amazing year that is about to come to an end! A pretty interesting end to say the least! How do I summarize this year? It’s not easy.. 2011 have treated us hopheads very nice, to say the least.

We have seen the birth and second coming of Brewdogs Hello, My Name Is Ingrid, which is still (and I’m trying to be unbiased here even though we have a history, me and Ingrid) one of my favorite beers of the year, and in total. The wonderful sweetness from the cloudberries balanced so good with all that massive amounts of hops is just great. 

We have seen Brewdogs Hardcore IPA  entering the standard assortment at Systembolaget, an amazingly well-hopped IPA that is truly as Hardcore as it claims! No doubt about that! In conjunction to that beer, someone very smart and nice and good looking at Systembolaget agreed to make room in December for no less than 9600 bottles of the Brewdog/Mikkeller I Hardcore You  (a blend between Hardcore IPA and I Beat yoU), a beer which I truly love and actually emptied the Systembolag in Visby on a few weeks back. This is also the beer that I first wrote about at MankerBeer when I joined Manker in the late summer period, which I hope many of you like equally as much as I do (if that is possible). You can find the story here. 

Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival gave us of course LOADS of IPA’s.  Me and Manker had a few standard places to spot us while not roaming for all the other good stuff that could be found on the second biggest (yes, that’s right) Beer exhibition in the world, right after GABF! Brill & Co, Wicked Wine and of course Brewers Association/Great Brands/Oliver Twist were the places where we statistically could be found at least few hours every day.

Brill had loads of very, VERY nice IPA’s to offer the lucky visitors, I would reckon that the absolute top ones were Grassroots/Cigar City’s Neither, the ever so lovely Mikkeller 1000 IBU (which is in theory 10 times more bitter than the human tongue can actually distinct, hence the name), a whole bunch of the result of Mikkellers project called Phd Single Hop – favorites there from my perspective were the Centennial and Amarillo Single Hops, and I just recently tried the Summit Single Hop at Bishops Arms St Eriksgatan and I can just say OH YEAH to that!. Last but definitively not least our friends at Brill kept a bottle of chilled Left Coast Hop Juice for me and Manker, as I guess they were fully aware of our love to this amazing beer. More about my love to that here.

Alright, moving on from Brill is always sad as they have managed to get so much wonderful brews to Sweden which we are ever so thankful for, but there are more beers to try so while hanging out with the great guys at Wicked Wine we quickly realized that we were stuck there for quite some time. I mean, they have managed to get 4 different Sierra Nevada Beer Camp beer, where the Douple IPA was my favorite and next to that, we saw Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head’s collaboration Life&Limb on cask!! And, oh yeah, there they were – the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum bottles all lined up glaring at us with a sexy smile. Eventhough this is an IPA article, I cannot leave out the tasting that we had with Matthias at WW – a horisontal tasting with 2009, 2010 and 2011 Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot. Mankers favorite was the 2010 and I tried to steal the 2009 bottle. And a few Hoptimum bottles of course.

For those of you that were lucky enough to come to the SBWF, I guess you still remember the monstrous Brewers Association/Great Brands/Oliver Twist stand. They really used the height and width of their stand, and they had some of the best IPA’s in the world. In Sweden! I guess here is an appropriate time to take my hat of to Jugge att Oliver Twist who have managed to get so much of those american lovely beers over to cold and dark Sweden – I believe it is truly an amazing effort and we at MankerBeer love you! Ballast Point Sculpin and Big Eye, Dogfish head’s 90 minute IPA, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, the list goes on and on and on.. And these were only the bigger stands on the fair, there was so much IPA’s that it is impossible to mention all great ones!

Then there was the trip to the USA with Manker where we counted to 300 different beers over a period of 2 weeks, and yes there were a few IPA’s there as well! We said hello to Pliny the Elder at a tap room in Denver and asked how he felt now in the old days, he said he was great and wanted to see us for a long time. The great guys and girls at Great Divide gave us an amazing start on a sunny Denver day with a glass of their Fresh Hop straight and fresh as it can be from the tap. 

And we do thank our friends at Avery Brewery that gave us fresh Hog Heaven which is one of the best beer I ever tried! Oskar Blues’s Gubna opened the door for us at the Tasty Weasel Tap Room at Oskar Blues and gave us a very warm welcome, so did also Mr Sam Calagione at Dogfish head, who’s brewery and brewpub we visited. Can you imagine my reaction when I saw that the 120 minute IPA was available on tap? For 4 dollars for a glass? …and I had a car key and a car outside the brewpub.

Jeez, this is starting to get a bit longer than I first thought so I guess I’ll start to round off – the year of 2011 have given us loads of interesting IPA’s and there is obviously more to come in 2012.

My predictions though is that the beer industry in USA is now ‘over’ the IPA wave a little and are starting to experiment a little more with different beer styles. I hope though that we will keep getting these amazing beers to Sweden so that we all can mission the craft beers to the infidels that settles for a Falcon or whatever Spendrups want to make money on at the moment, it is a fact that if you buy a Punk IPA to the less fortunate that have yet to cross over to the better side, he or she will soon be enjoying a Vuur & Flam with you or possibly bring over an Evil Twin Disco Beer to the dinner you are planning or something really nice from Amager or Raastedt. These are facts, so bring people over to our side and they will buy you beer!

 

I’d like to end this rambling by listing my favorites, surprises and disappointments. As it is impossible to pick just one, I’ll go with a few of each:* Hop yummy of the year: It’s gotta be Left Coast Hop Juice together with Brewdog Hops Kill Nazis and Avery Hog Heaven!
* IPA of the year: It’s definitively not an easy pick but I’ll go with what my heart says: In no particular order: Alesmith IPA,  Green Flash West Coast and Brewdog Abstrakt 06!
* SuperdupermegaultraIPA of the year: Will anyone blame me if I say fresh Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA on tap at DFH’s Brewpub?
* Disappointment of the year: I’m not known to be a sourpuss but I have to say that I had higher expectations on Odell Myrcenary and Caldera IPA
* Surprise of the year, close call between Dugges brewery’s new Duggish and the Brittish empire’s latest addition to amazing beer: Kernel Brewery!
 
Now it’s time for that last Kernel Brewery Citra I have in my refrigerator – which is something as unusual as a British IPA that stole my heart instantly. Great way to look back at 2011 with

M2

Magnus "Manker" Björnstjerna

Grundare och skribent på MankerBeer.com. Från ett fokus på allt vad USA har att erbjuda och med en kärlek till gedigen amerikansk mat, bra bourbon och framförallt all landets fantastiska öl har Manker nu börjat förstå storheten i belgisk öl.

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5 Responses to “2011 – From a hophead’s perspective!”

  1. dempa says:

    Kernel är en riktig uppstickare ja. Var där en solig septemberlördag och njöt av en massa skön bärs i en charmigt skabbig bygglokal/garage. De ser jag fram emot att testa fler öl ifrån, hittills har det väl blivit 8-9 st.

    Men att ni hypar Duggish gör mig förbryllad och stukar mitt förtroende för er en aning 😉

  2. baggen says:

    Håller med Dempa. Kvaliteten på de ljusare ölen som tillverkas hos Dugge lämnar mycket att önska. Hans ipor o dyl är en skugga av hur de var på “den gamla goda” tiden. Gillar fortfarande deras mörka öl dock…det ska jag villigt erkänna!

    • manker says:

      Jag håller med er båda, jag har inte vart alltför övertygad sista året med de ljusa ölen (jag har inte heller provat Duggish). Men bara att hoppas att det börjar bli en jämnare hög kvalitet nu igen

  3. Fredrik. K says:

    May I ask why you guys keep mixing Swedish and English in you blog- and facebook-posts?

    Anyway, nice sum of this “hop-year”! 😀

    • manker says:

      Mycket av det som vi skriver/har skrivit/ska skriva som är relaterat till vår USA-resa blir på engelska då vi skickar över det till dem vi träffat. Men jag plitade ned något för några veckor sen om att vi experimenterar lite beroende på vilken inriktning vi kommer ta i framtiden, så ibland blir det tyvärr lite mittemellan :)

      /Manker

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