Beer in Review: Crowning the Best Beer of 2012

By Iron Chef Leftovers

In 2012, I started writing beer reviews on this blog in a semi-regular segment titled “Beer of the Week”. It is a bit of a misnomer since some weeks you got 2 beers of the week (hey, those are good weeks) and some weeks you got none. Anyway, I don’t review every beer I drink and I don’t always post them right after I drink them, so you sometimes end up with beers that are out of season or just not available anymore. What I am most proud of is my 5 point rating system.

In case you haven’t realized, instead of awarding stars or mugs or whatever else, I usually award a rating out of 5 based on something to do with the beer or the brewery. For example, I rated the Diamond Knot Whip Ale 4 out of 5 Silent Lucidities based on the idea that the recipe came from Michael Wilton of Queensryche (get it…Queensryche…Silent Lucidity). Coming up with these can be a challenge sometimes – anything animal or plant related is easy, just use the scientific name. Some are harder and probably not quite as funny. My favorite for the year was when I awarded Firestone Walker Wookey Jack 3 Kashyyyks out of 5. Kashyyyk being the home planet of Chewbacca, Chewy being a Wookie, get it? See how my brain works?

I digress, I reviewed a number of beers this year and several of them score a perfect 5 out of 5 on my rating scale. Several of those were vintage beers, so unless you know someone who happens to be sticking stuff in their cellar for 5 or 6 years (like I do), I figured that I should eliminate them from the running for the beer of the year. That really brought me down to 2 beers for the coveted title: Latona 25th Anniversary Cask by Anacortes and Pumpkin Ale by Reuben’s. It isn’t an easy choice; both breweries are great, both are breweries whose beers I really love and the styles are completely different. I am a shameless hophead and the Anacortes beer really appeals to me, but I also love pumpkin beers, especially ones where you can really taste the pumpkin and Reuben’s really knocked it out of the park with a pumpkin rye, a style which you don’t see too often, giving everything that I love about pumpkin beers with an interesting twist (and if you haven’t tried any of their rye beers, you should, they are fantastic).

So after much debate and locking the judges in a room without food and water until they made a decision (not really, I just spent 15 minutes thinking about who should win), we have a winner.

In a stunning upset, the new kid on the block, Reuben’s Brews wins the coveted beer of the year award for their Pumpkin Ale! I highly encourage you to try this beer when it comes back around next year. It is so good that it is close to replacing Elysian’s Dark of the Moon as my favorite pumpkin beer on the planet, which is no easy feat since I pretty much consider Dark to be the second best beer brewed in Washington, behind Anacortes IPA of course!

Congrats to the wonderful folks from Reuben’s for brewing such delicious beers and keep it up. You will have some stiff competition in 2013 if you want to retain your title.