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2023: A Beer in Review
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2023: The Beer in Review

By the time this article is published, most Americans will have faltered — or forgotten — their New Year’s resolutions. I am happy to report that I successfully maintained my annual commitment, one that I have pledged to again this year: Supporting local, independent craft breweries and taprooms.

Even in my travels across the country and abroad, I seek out small, unique, independently-owned businesses. I find that they always have a story to share as well as terrific beers, unlike the mainstream and larger brewery options. More often than not, I get to meet an equally impressive owner, brewer or team member.

Here is my 2023 Beer in Review:

January: I rang in the New Year with a Gold Medal-winning beer, Rye Dawn brown ale from Breakwater Brewing Company. The CoLab Public House, which houses Breakwater Brewing, has been a go-to spot when meeting up with friends and family who also want to enjoy a glass of wine. (Vista)

February: On the Central Coast, I enjoyed an El Tambor Mexican Lager with Noelle Dubois, owner of Bang the Drum Brewery in San Luis Obispo. I also had one of their homemade chicken pot pies and cookies baked on the premises.

Columnist and I Like Beer the Podcast co-host Jeff Spanier at Three Mile Brewing in Davis. Photo by Jeff Spanier
I Like Beer the Podcast co-host Jeff Spanier at Three Mile Brewing in Davis. Photo by Jeff Spanier

March: Puna Pils, an outstanding pilsner brewed by Tipping Pint’s Adam Jester. Jester shared his story and quite a few of the Tipping Pint lineup that day. Good day. The story of Tipping Pint and a review of several beers can be found in the archives for this article. (Oceanside)

April: Because the quality of a beer is enhanced by time, place, and the people with whom it is enjoyed, the Cul Dorcha dark ale I had in Dingle, Ireland, at Tig Bhric Pub & West Kerry Brewing was one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Ever. And I’ve had a lot of very good beers. Check the archives for this heartwarming story.

May: After a long wait, I was able to gain membership to Horus Aged Ales! And even though I didn’t get to take a bottle home until quite a while later, it was quite an experience to visit Horus Aged Ales and meet owner-brewer Kyle Hallop in Oceanside. (Now that I’ve enjoyed several, the wait was well worth it.)

June: One of the smallest nanobreweries I’ve ever stumbled across, Three Mile Brewing in downtown Davis is a beer for a beer and one of the best breweries you’ll find. It’s impossible for me to pass near Davis without stopping for a Honey Blonde made with locally sourced honey and a hint of orange peel.

Maizy at Culver Beer Company in Carlsbad. Photo by Jeffrey Spanier
Maizy at Culver Beer Company in Carlsbad. Photo by Jeff Spanier

July: I stumbled upon The Ale Apothecary in Bend, Oregon, on my way to a favorite place, Good Life Brewing. The tasting room was only open for forty-five more minutes, but it was a very impressive short visit. Unique wild and sour ales made using “ancient arts” and modern innovations. I left with several bottles.

August: In an earlier trip to Seattle, my visit to Georgetown Brewing had been thwarted. So, this trip was highly anticipated. Instead of chastising myself for missed opportunities, I relished in the absolutely mind-boggling number of excellent beers. Manny’s Pale Ale may be the best pale ale I’ve ever tasted. I had several to reassess and confirm that judgment.

September: When it’s September, local beer enthusiasts know you head to Eppig Brewing for Festbier. “Festbier is the best beer,” claims co-owner Clayton LeBlanc. In September, he’s absolutely right. (Vista)

October: This month, I met Chris Leguizamon, a beer educator at Pure Project. Chris walked me through several tastings. His notes and guidelines for tasting have had a lasting impact on how I sample beer. Astral Infusion is a barrel-aged sour made with pluots and elderflower. Find it, try it. (Vista)

El Tambor at Bang the Drum in San Luis Obispo. Photo by Jeff Spanier
El Tambor at Bang the Drum in San Luis Obispo. Photo by Jeff Spanier

November: Owners Mike and Ewa Zane celebrated Inzane Brewing’s 1st year anniversary with a Golden Ale that was a shocking 9%. This golden strong ale was smooth and warming, with a slight malty sweetness. (Vista)

December: On an 80-degree December day after Christmas, I enjoyed a sandwich and a Mad Neighbor blonde ale on the back patio of Culver Beer Company. Not a bad way to end 2023. (Carlsbad)

I am proud to say I have continued my resolution into 2024. See you out at our local breweries!

Jeff Spanier is the co-host of I Like Beer the Podcast. Follow Spanier’s adventures on Instagram @ilikebeerthepodcast.

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