Beer got a little crazy in 2013. From ultra hop bombs and deliciously oddball combinations to entirely new brews we’ve never quite seen before, it’s been a good run so far. We suspect that’s only going to get better as more breweries join the fray, but before we charge forward into the great unknown of tomorrow, here’s a quick look back at 20 of the year’s most inventive and tasty craft beer offerings that were released for the first time in 2013. Is the list heavy on IPA’s and bourbon-aged beer? Yes. Are we going to apologize for that? No.
20. Victory DirtWolf
Earthy and fruity hop aromas and citrus flavors lead the charge in this balanced but potent medium-bodied double IPA, which we dubbed in our review, your standard IPA’s “older, hotter sister.” Expect all kinds of floral and pine notes from start to finish.
19. Otter Creek Kind Ryed IPA
This latest hop-forward addition to Otter Creek’s regular line-up is dank in all of the right kind of ways—grapefruit and lemony hops out the ying—yet it finds great balance from the rye malts which add just enough sweetness and spice. This is your beer if you like a West Coast-style IPA with a bit of a twist.
18. Stone Farking Wheaton w00tStout
A tasty limited edition three-way collaboration between geek hero Wil Wheaton (Star Trek), Stone Brewing, and Drew Curtis of Fark.com (news satire at its finest), this dark imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels simply explodes with nutty, vanilla, boozy flavor. Epic to the max.
17. Sam Adams Double Agent IPL
Tons of grapefruit and pine-laden hop flavor and aroma in a light bodied, very drinkable lager? Yes please. The Double Agent crosses previously well-defined borders, mixes styles, throws polka dots with stripes, bends genders, and totally works. It’s a summer thirst-quencher, and a flavor-packed hop bomb.
16. Jester King Viking Metal
A few draughts of this wild, smoky gin-barrel-aged farmhouse ale brewed with myrica gale and juniper (that stuff that makes gin taste like gin) will have you pillaging villages and uttering battle cries. There’s a lot of blending and multiple barrel aging and inoculating of wild yeast and souring bacteria that goes into the process of Viking Metal. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
15. Tallgrass Zombie Monkie
You thankfully won’t find any mummified monkey bits in this post-apocalyptic American porter, but it has chocolaty espresso malt flavor in spades. Bonus: There’s just enough hops to keep this porter from being a one-note wonder. The citrus character knocks the chocolate down a peg, in a good way.
14. Cigar City Good Gourd
I know, a pumpkin ale? But this is a pumpkin ale from Cigar City, packed with all the pumpkin pie spices you’d imagine, but underscored with floral hops and aged in rum barrels so that the result is so much more complex than just a pumpkin ale.
13. Wynkoop Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout
A real ballsy brew…literally. This stout is rocking roasted bull testicles to round out its velvety smooth flavor. To be precise, the beer is brewed with 25 pounds of sliced, roasted bull testicles. Shock value aside, it’s one two-pack worth trying thanks to the savory notes and hits of chocolate and, um, nuts. The beer quickly reached legendary status after being introduced at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, and 2013 marked the first time Wynkoop canned their balls.
12. Firestone Walker 17
FW17 isn’t a single beer, it’s seven different beers run through 220 oak barrels all blended together for a bourbon beer extravaganza. Look, Firestone Walker is one of the most highly respected craft breweries in the country, and they have the right to go big when celebrating their 17th birthday. So, with this anniversary beer, you get all the vanilla, oak, caramel, and bourbon notes you’ve come to love from FW, just more of them. And you get 13.3% ABV. Boom.
11. Long Trail Limbo IPA
A vortex of delicious candy sweetness and tropical citrus that will transport you to another dimension that you just might not want to come back from. A vortex I tell you. The mix of Australian and Pacific Northwestern hops build to a bitter crescendo (Limbo packs 80 IBU’s). Consider yourself warned.