Award of Merit 2012

Contact us
Citation Guidelines
Facebook Site NEW
Henry's Beer Links
Hop Varieties NEW
Mobile Apps/Support
Mobile version

Press release
Quick Takes
Rating system

Style definitions

>>> Switch to Mobile (iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, cell phone or small device) Version
Link Exchange - Beer Boots: Linking You to the World of Beer

Link2Me Directory for SEO Link Exchange
Quality directory of webmasters actively seeking link exchange. Improve your search engine rankings and link popularity the easy way. Work clever not hard.
QUICK TAKES (our recent top picks):
  • Our newest reviews are founder faster on Facebook Brewbase Reviews.
  • De Dolle Bos Keun Speciaal Paasbier (5.0, Award of Merit 2012) - fruit is dreamy...absolute estery perfection...grainy-malts....Amazing PLUS apocalyptic experience.
  • J.W. Lee Harvest Ale Matured in Port Casks 2008 (5.0, Award of Merit 2012) - Haute couture of the liquid world...dazzling...elaborate layered notes...silky and glorious...this is the beer to give to your wine-snob friends
  • Anchor Brekle's Brown (5.0) - taking the style to new places...Citra hops...luminous-fruity...resplendent. Award of Merit 2012.
  • Epic BRAINLESS Belgian Style Golden Ale (4.5) - a tad too exuberant...hazy clump-loaded pours...Premiant, Tettnang and Saaz
  • Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA (5.0) - 9.2%...toasted, roasted, semi-choco, and licorice...glorious...malt addict's IPA. Award of Merit 2012.
  • Thomas Hardy Newcastle Founder's Ale (4.5) - dry hoppy...aromatic...solid in every way...bright and full at the same time...light and rich at once.
  • Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA(5.0) - citrus hops...peppery nature of rye...full-cone hops...right margin of sweetness...well-judged.

JoinJJoin thousands of beer lovers worldwide with
this huge, portable beer guide everywhere they go. Beer and wine stores often
post signs with the highest ratings they can find. BrewBase™ is far more objective.
Unlike online beer review sites, the BrewBase
ratings are only from experienced drinkers
on our carefully selected panels - not watered down by thousands of novice, naive,
and frankly moronic reviewers who cancel out the expert votes!

BrewBase™ uses a five bottle rating system similar to five star reviews - one is lousy and five is awesome. Half bottles such as 3.5 and 4.5 are allowed. We grade bottled beers and not canned or draft stock so our rating means something in everywhere the bottles are sold. Since 1987 BrewBase™ has the policy of rating each label on it's merit, regardless of name or claimed style. Is is good beer or not even if misnamed? Many are. We will note deviations from traditional stryle and also give AMARD OF MERIT and LEGEND status to very elite 5-bottle brews.

Bottled beers reviewed: 1579
Current version: 2012.6
Release date: 13 January 2013

Writers may quote up to 10 words each of up 10 reviews per website, blog, article, publication, or other media format (cumulative over all time) if BrewBase™ is cited in full, including our full name and trademark notation, and a link to provided in the context or refenence page. Exceeding this content extraction rule, failing to cite our name or trademark, or providing no link terminates your permission and will be considered copyight infringement. BrewBase staff reserve the right for any reason to revoke any and all quotation permission for any reason. If you exceed 100 total words (10 words x 10 reviews), you must delete all earlier quotations to stay under this cap or pay a syndication license fee.

Breweries who wish to quote a review of their own product (using more than 10 words) or use a BrewBase award graphic may be granted full reprint and image use permission upon emailing from an official corporate email address to  Please use this same email address if requesting informatron on syndication opportunities.

When citing BrewBase™ in a formal publication requiring academic citations please use the following or a very similar format:

Hatch, Larry (Editor). [Year accessed]. BrewBase™ Encyclopedia 2011-2012. Version [number - see Stats]. PDF page [number from PDF file]. Accessed [date]. TCR Press, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

For example:

Hatch, Larry (Editor). 2012. BrewBase™ Encyclopedia 2011-2012. Version 2012.14. PDF page 829-830. Accessed March 13, 2012. TCR Press, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

Hatch, Larry (Editor). 2014. BrewBase™ Encyclopedia 2013-2014. Version 2014.7. PDF page 34. Accessed December 12, 2014. TCR Press, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.
Recent Award of Merit 2012 Winners are found here.

These newish or recently discovered (by us) elite beers not only scored perfect 5 bottle ratings from our reviewers but are considered the very best of the best.
Lagunitas Our Own Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen
RATING: 5.0 + A.M. 2011
Petaluma, California
When you're paying more per ounce for an American wheat than an authentic thick brown German 5.0 rated bottle, the stakes get very high and the scrutiny rigorous. (Or as least as rigorous as a room full of buzzed guys and one girl can be). This recipe was "designed by our Freistaat Bayern Brothers who also built the brewhouse upon which we brewed it". That sounds like a doubly authentic plan. ABV is a whopping 9.0%, loafty for a wheat from either the new or old worlds. It pours hazy gold shaded in amber. First sip was admiration for all involved in the project in the form of the very intellectual, perceptive phrase "holy shit!". My first well-considered remark was another holy shit followed by "they really did it" and a soft wow. More sips. Yet more. Holy wow and holy hell yes. It is fruity yeasty "as all get out" and surprisingly sweet - some other Germans might disagree on that level of sugaring up thought such sweet-wheats are not unknown in Bavaria.

It is doppel or double and in the wheat realm doppel does not mean dark or malty by any means. A Belgian doppel or tripel might be dark and malty good but a doppel weizen need not be. If any wheat from any land deserves the Brewbase Award of Merit this year, this very impressive, lusty, fruity soup most assuredly does. I hesitate to add the remark "even a girly girl will like this" made by a sexist panalist here who is fully aware a good many... hundreds of females in America know a solid, well-rendered brew from the rest. This is all to say in grunting, man-cave language that this brew is awesome, brilliantly-crafted but still approachable and easy to like. Having all those Germans on the design team surely makes a difference and we would recommend that to about two hundred other breweries bottling wheats ranging from god-awful, insipidly weak imitations to mediocre, overpriced fare. Buying famous old German yeast is not enough folks. This product shows what can be done if a brewery cares to care, invests because it matters, and is not about getting by with the usual "wheat? Yes we did that style too" philosophy. Not all Lagunitas products are perfect or even enviable but this is a stellar, well-considered, genuinely impressive outcome. Ansehen (German for kudos)!!! And a another "holy shit...they actually did it!" for good measure.

Fuller's 2009 Bottle Conditioned Vintage Ale

RATING: 5.0 + AM
London, England
The textured maroon box with a linen and gold-trimmed label is fit for a fine Scotch. I am still trying to figure out what a 1 point 0.9 oz. bottle is but it's mighty tiny for $12.95. It is amber, faintly cloudy, the head big and yellowish-tan. Brew Master John Keeling says he used Goldings hops, Tipple malted barley, and their own yeast to make the limited 160,000 bottles of which my first was 143920 and stamped as such. This is the 12th year of the Vintage Ale product and first of it seen in North Carolina. It is a candy-ale but more sticky than sweet. The rich caramel flavors soak into the deep, rich malts for a product so heavenly one wished all beers were so bottle-aged and finely crafted. This nectar of the London gods (and they have one of those funny British accents of course) is remarkable, memorable, and one of the best beers tried thus far into 2011. Fullers is no new kid of the bottle-conditioned block and it shows. Here we have an ale so perfect for this genre. If you like your ales more bitter this will seem too much like great, handmade malt candy. If you like ales of this toasty, yummy stripe it will enter your dreams until the 2010 is available next year.

Our 2010 AM winners:

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace Ale
Brooklyn, New York
This is by far the most fancy Brooklyn product I've seen - thick foiled labels, wire and cork, thick brown glass, and a $13.19 pricetag (September 2010). Their special Belgian yeast is 100% refermented in the bottle for a modest 7.6% but the carbonation is wildly enthusiastic and the pale yellow haze convincing. Spicing is mild, effective enough, waning in the finish to stronger citrus notes which I found simply enticing if more juicy than the Old World standard. It is named for the rare Sorachi Ace hop which with the ample lemon zest makes for a very notable product; far above even their usual standard. This highly sophisticated ale is spicy and uniquely flavored in the hops element, extra yummy for the added lemon zip, and the rest is just a very good copy of European excellence. I hope they make more of these offerings and I'd rather one of these $13 bottle than two sixpacks of most anything else. Home run for Brooklyn! Make that a Grand Slam announced with a Belgian accent.

Red Oak Amber Lager
Whitsett, North Carolina
I must confess this brewery sitting out on the open on I-40/85 in North Carolina has intrigued me for some time but I never stopped. Finally in 2010 the bottled stuff has come east to Raleigh and I feel silly and lazy having waited for this amazing stuff so long. I think I assumed the worst from their kettles and large windows out on the highway. Theyt have the goods and are proud to show it off. These folks follow Duke Wilhelm IV's purity thing from 1516 and that certainly makes an American microbrewery both exalted and vulnerable in the modern market. They only due unfiltered and unpasteurized brews too. Wow, double wow. Using four 22-ton silos, a genuine four roller Kuenzel mill, a elaborate water purification system, a Bavarian-made Rolec brewing system, and some amazingly beautiful stuff, they are doing it right and doing it here. Their website is worth viewing for their 30 slides of the brewing process. It pours a dark amber, head rocky but lasting. 

I was astonished at the early notes. Mellow caramel malts, so subtle but very inviting. Delights all around. It is rather fruity for a lager but not boldly so. They clearly did not get their recipe off some website and all that pricey hardware shows in the actual glass. Purity and passon shows in the brew. Can't more for a firm than that. Mouthfeel is dense, not sweet nor sticky but good. Hops are faint at best, perhap even not necessary to this approach. The finish is rather nutty and more mild. I hate their website's floating description of beers (very annoying) but they use Munich Malt and Spalt Noble hops imported from Bavaria...wait...Urtyp (Old Style) lagering...have to maximize their window and get the hovering window to center...and they use Weihenstephan yeast. Not your average "we have a glowing lager too" business plan. Lack of carbonation in bottled from and the occasional off note (none big or long) are mentionable. Malt depth could be improved as more than one carmel-biscuit, nutty theme is expected these days - but they were trying to be Old Style so perhaps simplicity was planned. I think they are close to oaken majesty.

Stoudt's Heifer-in-Wheat Bavarian Style Hefeweizen
Adamstown, Pennsylvania
I'm not entirely sure the image of a cow in a field of wheat is appetizing but the joke is worth a momentary, mini-laugh. Actually not. I would rather have seen a smart cow with an Einsteinian wig and it called Heifer-Reason. Actually not. The color is typical but the head a bit thinner than from those thick-as-your-arm brown bottles from Germany. The first sip was...say what? The authentic, Teutonic potency and flavor are there in rich, unrelenting waves. [insert Panzer tank analogy here]. Unless they stole or borrowed or bought Maisel or Weihenstephan yeast, this quality of yeasty flavor would not normally be expected from a Stateside hefe-copy. Wow cubed. Even the finish was the right nip and potency and fresh, bright grainy delight. I have no beef with Heifer-in-wheat except for the name. If they could mass-market this stuff with a fancy, Old World-style label and that dumb German foil they'd give everyone from Seattle to Boston to Berlin a run for their hefe-money. The best American wheat I've tried in perhaps three years., wow, and super-wow.

Copyright 2012. Larry Hatch. All Rights Reserved.
BrewBase™ and Brewbase™ are trademarked names and should not be used without citation.