Best Beers 2011

One of the sweet rewards of being, not just a man, but a dad is the enjoyment of a good beer at the end of a long day or on a relaxing weekend. When one of these rare moments presents itself, the knowledge that the beer you are enjoying is one of the greats make it taste all that much sweeter. What follows is a discussion of some of the great beers and breweries of 2011 that warrant making it into your fridge whether a beer afficiando or a regular guy who likes a quality brew.

Surly Brewery, Minnesota

While Minnesota would not strike most as the home of many noteworthy beers, the Surly Brewing Company has emerged as one of the greats. Surly Darkness barely missed several top 50 lists, but is included here because it is not only a great beer, but a serious value. Others in the Surly family, particularly Surly Furious, are worth noting as well, and thus make the cute.

Summit Brewing Company, Minnesota

Another great, and often overlooked brewer from the north is the Summit Brewing Company. The company’s IPA and Pilsner are amongst some of the best, and usually carry a less severe price tag that some of the better known national brands. Each of these beers is a great example for its respective style and is worth checking out.

Goose Island Brewing Company, Illinois

Sticking with the Midwestern theme a bit longer, Goose Island produced several stouts that made nearly every top 50 list out there. The Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout and Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Stout were each on the list. Anyone who enjoys a richer beer experience and plans to savor only a few will appreciate the full flavor of each of these hand-crafted Chicago brews.

Russian River Brewing, California

Heralding from a region classically known for producing outstanding wines, Russian River Brewing scored two beers on many top 10 lists with their Russian River Pliny the Younger and Russian River Pliny the Elder. The younger is a tripled hopped IPA for those who look for this flavor complexion, while the Elder is adds extra malt to this already hoppy brew. Each are unique, but worth trying for rich flavors without the weight of a stout.

Bells Brewery, Michigan

Back to the Midwest for another stop at a brewery gaining in national and international recognition, Bells Hopslam double IPA is a superb example of the style. Using both floral and honey to provide balance, this is a highly drinkable and refreshing beer.

Cigar City Brewing, Florida

This little known brewing company also scored two beers near the top of most notable lists with their Cigar City Zhukov’s Final Push and Cigar City Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. Both are bold chocolate stouts that offer complex flavors and easy drinkability.

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, New York

While this beer may be difficult to secure outside of the local region, Captain Lawrence 5 Years Later Ale will be worth the effort. Crafted to commemorate the brewing company’s fifth anniversary, this special brew combines all of the features that make beer snobs take notice. Anyone fortunate enough to live in the area should not miss this limited release beer.

Each of the above brews offer a unique blend of flavor and consistency that have caused critics to take note throughout the course of 2011. Many great options have been left off the list and await discovery. So as you head into the new year, take a moment to savor life as a dad and the joys that a great beer can place in the palm of your hand.