My Year of Beer

Late last year I was introduced to an iPhone app called Untappd. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s an app that lets you rate and check-in the beers you drink. The app gives you badges for doing things like checking in beers on holidays, checking in a certain number of unique beers, checking in beers at specific locations, etc…

The timing for finding the app was great since I had only recently starting branching out from the small handful of beers that would order over and over again. So as the calendar was about to flip to 2014, I had the brilliant idea to collect the “Legendary” badge before the end of 2014. What is the Legendary badge, you ask? Simple, you just need to check in a total of 500 unique beers.

Legendary!Well, here we are, only a couple days before Christmas and as I take a sip of an ice cold Olde English 800, I’ve reached my goal! And for the record, this is the first and likely the last time I’ll be drinking Olde English. I gave it a half-star rating. Gross.

A funny thing about trying to reach 500 unique beers, it can be a challenge just to find a place that has beers you haven’t tried. Even a place with 20 or 30 beers on tap may only have a couple that are new. And to make things more difficult, I realized early on that I HATE IPAs. So while I might take a chance on a hefeweizen or a stout while out paying bar/restraunt prices for a pint, my options are typically limited. The saving grace in finding unique beers is a place called Total Wine. They have a great selection of beers and they bring in a lot of seasonal beers which definitely helped.

During the course of 500 beers, I learned a lot about what I do and don’t like. I already mentioned how much I dislike IPAs, but what surprised me was how many porters and stouts I enjoyed. Surprising because less than 2 years ago I probably tasted 1 or 2 dark beers. Ever.

The Breakdown

Here is how I rated the 500 beers I’ve tried so far:

5 stars – 16
4.5 stars – 37
4 stars – 78
3.5 stars – 130
3 stars – 74
2.5 stars – 63
2 stars – 37
1.5 stars – 17
1 star – 22
.5 stars – 14
0 stars – 12

What surprises me most is how many beers I rated favorably. Especially considering that just last year my normal beer order would be Michelob Ultra or Bud Light.

The Best of the Best

Since the internet loves to do end-of-year lists, I’ll submit my own. Here are the top 10 beers I drank this year!

10. Pinchy Jeek Barl Ale
Let this sink in… “bourbon barrel-aged pumpkin ale.” Just. Wow.

9. Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
We found this on tap at an Irish pub across from the Wranglers hockey arena. We would head there early for some food and a couple pints of Kilkenny before the game. Awesome.

8. Hoegaarden
A nice light Witbier with great flavor. This is one that I checked in a bunch of. Once I found it I feel in love and bought many six packs.

7. Blanche de Bruxelles
Another light witbier with great flavor. I first had this beer a few years back up in Portland. Was lucky enough to find it on tap at Yard House here in Vegas.

6. Milk Stout
While in San Diego for a concert, we found Culture Brewing 2 doors down from the venue. This excellent stout helped us kill some time before the show. Too bad we didn’t get there even earlier!

5. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
Hands down, this is my favorite Hefeweizen. Silky smooth and delicious!

4. Summer Solstice
Anderson Valley may be my favorite all-around brewery. They have several high-ranking beers, including #10 on this list and an oatmeal stout that should probably be on this list, too. But this cream ale was a standout.

3. Man’s Milk
Horrible name, amazing beer. We found this beer while in Minnesota and I haven’t been able to find it locally. This makes me sad. Made by Noble Ale Works. If you find it, drink it!

2. Alaskan Smoked Porter
This has a really smokey flavor. Almost a meal in a glass. I believe the way it was first described to us was “Bacon in my mouth.” Uh, yes please! Also, this one apparently made the list twice because I checked in both the 2013 and 2014 versions of this beer.

1. Shake Chocolate Porter
Out of the bottle, this is a really solid beer. On tap, it takes a few steps up. But, when we found it on Nitro, this shot to the top of my list as my favorite beer!

The road to 1000

“Are you already thinking about reaching 1000?” I got asked. Of course I am. But honestly, that’s likely not something that’ll happen for a couple years. Thanks to my recent switch to eating healthier, beer consumption has been much slower than before. I expect that to continue. But also, finding 500 more non-IPAs is going to be tough. I know they’re out there and I plan to find them… just, not right away.

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