Top 10 lists are everywhere you look these days, and we at K&L are not immune to their draw. Top 10 lists can be fun retrospectives, but too often in the world of beer and wine, they're chock full of rare or obscenely expensive items that few people can afford or find. (Case in point: My favorite beer of the year, the Mikkeller "Beer Geek Brunch" just sold out.) But not here! I asked K&L's beer buyers Steve Greer (Hollywood) and Bryan Brick (Redwood City) to pick their Top 10 Beers of 2010 that you can still buy, and it's packed with some pretty fantastic selections.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Noel de Calabaza" ($750ml $14.99) A holiday brew from Michigan's finest. This was my favorite last year, too.
2008 Harvey and Son "A. le Coq's" Imperial Extra Double Stout (9.3oz $5.99) This is one of my favorite stouts, but it's not what you would think of as a stout. Think of this as an old ale with very little carbonation, a rich but dry mouthfeel and an almost whiskey-like finish.
Mikkeller "Black Tie" Imperial Stout (500ml $15.99) This Imperial Stout, brewed with honey and smoked barley, spent four months in Scottish whiskey barrels. Another "don't miss" beer.
Fantome Noel (750ml $16.99) I have a soft spot for this brewery and its "Old World" styled beers. Far from traditional though, this beer has a beautiful spice, a sour note and a dry finish.
Mikkeller "From/Via/To Christmas Porter (750ml $14.99) I really love trying the beers from Mikkel and Mr. Keller. This is the first of the From/To Christmas Porters and it was a hit at the last Hollywood Christmas beer tasting, and it is one of my favorites. Not much left.
Isastegi Sagardo Naturala (750ml $9.99) Cider doesn't get the recognition it should, and for the question of "what to drink with Indian food" this is the perfect match. This cider comes from Spain's Basque country and uses more than a dozen local apples varieties, with fermentation taking place in old, large oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered.
2007 Etienne Dupont "Bouche E. Dupont" Cider (1.5L $27.99) A magnum of anything makes a statement, but the cider inside this bottle is outstanding no matter how it's packaged. A rich mousse and mouthfeel, it tastes of pure apple and has a never ending finish. Again spicy food (particularly Indian food) is the perfect match for this, but it is fine all by itself.
Nøgne-Ø "Highland Edition" Imperial Stout Aged in Scotch Whiskey Barrels (500ml $15.99) One of the One-Off beers from a this Norwegian brewery, so once it's gone that might be it. For this beer, the brewery aged some of its Imperial Stout in Highland Scotch barrels. Fantastic!
Nøgne-Ø/Jolly Pumpkin/Stone "Special Holiday Ale (500ml $10.99) For this beer each brewery used a local ingredient for their recipe. Nøgne used juniper, Stone used sage and Jolly Pumpkin used chestnuts.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Oro de Calabaza" Blonde Ale aged in Oak (750ml $11.99) I have had this on tap as well as in bottle, and I love it. Plus, each time I share this with someone they look up with surprise and want more.
Aecht Schlenkerla "Oak Smoke" Rauchbier, Germany (500ml $5.99) Kilned with oak wood, this is complex and layered with complex bitterness.
Brouwerij Smisje "Catherine The Great" Russian Imperial Stout, Belgium (11.2 oz $4.99) Roasty toasty with hints of bitter chocolate and plum fruit.