Why thirteen? Why not thirteen.
Perennial Artisan Ales
Drank: St. Louis, January 21, 2017
A bottle share of arguably St. Louis’ finest beer, at my close friend group’s annual Friendsmas gathering, the evening after taking part in the STL Women’s March on an unseasonably warm January day.
Drank: Hamburg, Germany, June 22, 2017
The beer was nothing fancy, just a standard local Helles (albeit one brewed to Reinheitsgebot standards), but drinking a fresh bottle on a ferry in the River Elbe, with a storm front rolling in, on my first full morning in Germany? Unforgettable.
Drank: Berlin, Germany, June 23, 2017
I was tasked with figuring out dinner and drinks and came across this brewery-restaurant in Kreuzberg. It was constructed from old shipping containers, and featured a lively patio, full of families and friends on a Friday night, listening to music and drinking craft beer under strings of fairy lights. Their pale ale was sharp and crisp, but it was their Baltic porter that I daydream about when I daydream about this special place.
Książęce Ciemne Łagodne
Drank: Warsaw, Poland, June 24, 2017
TFW you finally make it to your ancestral homeland, and raise a gigantic liter mug of local beer and share a “na zdrowie” with one of your best friends, also of Polish descent. This was a slightly sour dark ale, refreshing after a long day driving from Berlin to Warsaw. I already had a smile on my face, but sipping this along with some Croatian food, only widened it.
Klášterní pivovar Strahov
Drank: Prague, Czech Republic, June 28, 2017
Monk beer, in the garden of a monastery in the hills above Prague, peering down over vineyards, red tile rooftops, the River Vltava and the castle you just toured.
Kopřivové Pivo (Nettle beer)
Drank: Prague, Czech Republic, June 28, 2017
“What is it?” “It is…it is green.”
The Czech Republic was full of fine pilsners (they invented the style, after all) but the most interesting beers I had in the country were at this small craft brewery on a side street in Prague. The sampler wheel contained, among many others, a great stout and a noteworthy banana beer, but it was this nettle beer that was unlike anything I’d ever tasted. It was very green, and highly piquant and aromatic. A beer I will never forget.
Drank: Munich, Bavaria, July 2, 2017
A fresh-from-the-beer-cow Maß of Dunkel at one of the world’s true beer churches? Say no more.
Drank: Cincinnati, OH, August 5, 2017
A hazy IPA (as part of a flight) with my dad in a converted warehouse that had become a carnival of beer and bonhomie, on our annual baseball road trip.
Space Dust IPA
Drank: LouFest, St. Louis, September 10, 2017
A high octane craft IPA to toast the start of the second day of LouFest 2017 with a bunch of great friends on a spectacular late summer day.
Hermes Fluffernutter Porter
Drank: Akron, OH, October 27, 2017
What sorcery is this? I had never dared to dream of such a thing, and suddenly, here it was staring right at me. It really tasted like a fluffernutter! Extra memorable for the setting — a small craft brewery in what looked like a large, converted garage. The open doors looked out onto a patio, where I watched a big fatty groundhog come out of a pipe and wander around the hill at the edge.
Great Lakes Brewing
Drank: Cleveland, OH, October 30, 2017
One of the best Christmas ales in America, two days after release, at the source, on the last day of a trip out for two of your closest friends’ wedding? Gonna remember that.
Drank: St. Louis, November 22, 2017
The first TIPA of the late fall / early winter is always a cause for celebration. This year, my first TIPA of the season was at the Tap Room itself, before a concert on Thanksgiving Eve. Nobody could meet up with me ahead of time, so I took an hour and rediscovered the art of the solo pint. Meditative, restorative, appreciative, and put me in a far better mood as I walked over to the opera house.
Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin
North Coast Brewing, Ft. Bragg, CA
Drank: St. Louis, December 27, 2017
What could be better on a frigid (25 degrees below freezing) winter night than good friends, a warm, Christmas-decorated, 19th century south St. Louis house, and hosts dipping into their cellar and generously sharing the good stuff? The standard Old Rasputin is an imperial stout standby, but the Barrel-Aged is a revelation. Notes of bourbon, a slight coffee bitterness, and a surprisingly respectable and retained head. This was a beer, and a shared experience, to warm the body and the soul. | Mike Rengel