Again it was another great year for Victoria craft beer lovers. New to the brewing scene was the 4 Mile Pub (boo) and Category 12 (Yay). It was also the first time there was a true collaboration brew between two local breweries. Sadly this beer did not make the top 10. The other collaboration brew will not be spoken of again. We also experienced the opening of two great, uber-taplist pubs. The Churchill/Garrick's Head and this supercool place called the Drake. My 2014 list is a little thin as I was not able to review nor taste all the beers in Victoria. Next year I shall try harder. But enough of my ramblings, how did these beers stack up according to ME?
1. Moon Under Water - Bench Warmer = 9/10
This was a wonderful collaboration beer. A spicy, bretty Belgian blonde with lots of oaty malts and hints of flowery and spicy hops. Well done John Adair (now Gladstone) and Jeff (MUW)
2. Category 12 - Disruption Black IPA = 9/10
A lot of black IPAs are potent and painfully hoppy. This new kid hit a nice balance between griping citrus and floral hops with roasted and chocolate malts. Yum
3. Entangled - Driftwood = 8/10
What happens when you mix the hoppy Fat Tug and a creamy wheat beer? Something wonderful.
4. Keg Tosser - Spinnakers = 8/10
A great strong Scottish ale that delivers deep peaty malts, lots of caramel and abundant fruitiness. Don't mind if I do.
5. Sauerteig - Lighthouse = 8/10
A little on the weird side. Who would have thought a rye sourdough bread yeast would work with a saison style beer? I'm glad someone tried.
6. Sea Port Vanilla Stout - Lighthouse = 8/10
Would could you not like a dry chocolate Keepers stout with added earthy vanilla.
7. 13 Knot - Phillips = 8/10
This was perhaps the greatest marketing tactic by Phillips to date. Bundling a hop flavoured liqueur with a double IPA.
8. Maxminer's Altbier - Moon Under Water = 7/10
Great balance between tame chocolate, caramel, bread, raisins and floral/spicy noble hops.
9. Surfrider - Vancouver Island Brewery = 7/10
What can I say, it's a well done Pilsner. So good that they released it twice.
10. Chico Nico - Swan's = 7/10
It was a simple blend of tropical citrus hops over a bed of biscuity malts. Simply delicious.
These beers never got a full review due to laziness, but would have ranked up with these top 10.
Pilsner Doehnel by Driftwood - a hoppy pils with local malts: ohh yess!
Rhubie by Lighthouse - the unintentional sour rhubarb beer. The only bottle I bought three times.
Lighter Side of the Moon by Moon - A simple, light lager in a super cool can.
Soma II by Moon Under Water - the keg didn't last long enough for me to try. But one might appear at the Drake soon
Oud King Crow by Moon - a lovely approachable sour.
Year Two Wheat Wine by Moon - no one wanted to share this lovely bottle with me. I took a peaceful nap afterwards.
Best Packaging of the Year
Hands down is was the Entangled by Driftwood and Hired Guns Creative. Perhaps the most elegant label I have ever seen. The Phillips 13 Knot was a close second.