This week, I'm looking back on 2010 with a couple of lists. First, I'll share my 10 favorite beers of the year. They're not my top 10 of all time, but rather 10 brews I tried (and in many cases, subjected to the Hophead Ranking System) this year and really loved.
Later, I'll post a top 10 beers of the year similar to last year's list, with wider-ranging criteria that may include new products, newsworthy beers or beers that are somehow worthy of acclaim.
This incredibly strong lager, included in the Idle Rich Winter and Christmas Beer Tasting, showed just how complex and rich a lager can be. Generally I favor ales, but the distinction between lager and ale gets blurrier all the time--especially after a glassful of Samichlaus.
9. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 10 (89)
I used to wonder why beer nerds would go so far as to take a day off work to be sure they got a pack of certain rare releases, such as Saint Arnold's DR series. Now I get it.
8. Franconia Winter Wheat
North Texas' own Franconia makes some great traditional German-style beers. This is my favorite yet from the company.
7. Urthel Hop-It (92)
Being a sucker for hops and for Belgian ales, this new-ish Belgian-made IPA was right up my alley.
6. Avery Mephistopheles Stout
Part of Avery's Demons series, this one is unbelievably rich, thick and tasty--and packs an ABV of nearly 17 percent.
5. Jester King Commercial Suicide
Perhaps my tastes are maturing--I'd have never guessed I'd like an English mild ale with an ABV of around 3 percent, but this proved surprisingly flavorful and rich. It's great to see that Jester King is making its way to taps in the Dallas area, too.
4. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (93)
Tried this one for the first time this spring and loved it. One of my favorite Dogfish Head beers, which is really saying something.
3. Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball (94)
A great big spicy malt bomb that could easily retail for much more.
2. Guinness Foreign Extra
Guinness Extra Stout was the first serious beer I drank. Over the years, I came to the sad realization that it was not the world's greatest beer, as I once maintained, or even the world's greatest stout. But the arrival of Foreign Extra to Dallas reminded me of all the things I loved about my first stout.
1. Flying Dog Raging Bitch (95)
A great all-around beer that scored high for its originality, taste and bang-for-the-buck. Here's hoping 20 years is just the beginning for Flying Dog.