Sierra Nevada, Ovila Dubbel

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Grade: B

Part one of a three part series of beers brewed in partnership between Sierra Nevada Brewing and New Clairvaux, an actual honest-to-god monastery in California. Ken Grossman, the owner of Sierra Nevada is extremely interested in traditional abbey ales, brewed with the seasons. It's a bold departure from the brewery's obvious strength, hoppy American ales.

Firestone Walker, Porter

Firestone Walker
Grade: A-

Firestone Walker is known for their huge, amazing, expertly crafted beers aged in their famous barrel program in Paso Robles, California. What a lot of East Coasters like myself are slow to learn is that their "normal" beers are anything but. Firestone's porter is another of those beers that I think should be held up as the best example of a style. Yeah those guys can do a mean oak-aged IPA, but they can also put out a beer so solid and flavorful that I want a perpetual tap of it at my house.

Clown Shoes, Hoppy Feet Black IPA

Well, let's keep this ball rollin' shall we? Another excellent beer from the booming beer-state of Massachusetts. There have been a large number of new and exciting beer-ventures starting up in Mass (or, as I refer to it: Connecticut's Hat), and the Clown Shoes line has come out as a clear frontrunner. Their Black IPA, the new, hot beer style on the scene has become (in this beer geek's mind) a benchmark for the style. If you have one Black IPA this year, make it this one.