Year in Review and 2017 Plans in Beer

ReadME: I’m posting this late because RateBeer posts a year in beer annually for each userID. This year, they were a week late in posting this and the page is very buggy so you’ll see below some marks saying “waiting for year in beer 2016”. I’m going to check the page monthly and a few of us have filed a bug report with RB asking them to fix it. It’s broken on all browsers I’ve tried even w/o any special ad-blocker extensions. So unfortunately, while the numbers I present are correct, some great data points related to my top beers by style are missing until further notice. Sorry for the delay but I couldn’t wait any longer to publish this.

Good evening readers and thanks so much for your support over the last few years. I’ve traded with hundreds of people and drank with thousands. This has been a hobby of mine for a full 4 years with a few more added on back when I was into craft beer and learning about it without formally taking notes or trading or traveling to a distant place with the sole purpose of drinking beer. The first post to this blog was in March of 2012 where I told a story about SN’s 30th anniversary beer and how, in 2010 it really captured my heart and became the start of me knowing beer as more than just Lagunitas and Newcastle. Unfortunately, the bar that served me that beer is now closed. Really a shame but that’s the bar-industry.

Overview:

2016’s goals were mostly met. If you scroll to the bottom of last year’s post:

I had a great year and missed my mark on beating last year’s review total by 25 but I knew going into this year I’d rate less than last year, I didn’t know I’d just barely miss it but without the tasting group in Mass that I drive down for every month, there’s no doubt that I would have rated about 600 beers instead of 1100. If I had not done any beer trading, that figure would have been 400 and if I hadn’t gone to Belgium Twice and to Chicago for Rare-Day, the count would have been only 100 new ratings. Those figures are completely accurate by a few dozen margin of error.

Unfortunately, traveling, trading and spending gas money to go to beer tastings is becoming more difficult as I get more adult financial goals and budget for more expensive acquisitions like houses, cars, camera gear and a new desktop computer since my 2012 iMac is getting long in the tooth.

I’ll keep meeting up with our tasting group, I’ll continue my Bruery membership for one last year and I’ll probably respond to people emailing me with trade-offers if they’re asking for a beer I already have and one I have multiples of. I’ll continue buying shelf-bourbon and 3-4 barrel picks from Four Roses a year and I’ll continue drinking beer (on the weekends)

I definitely lived up to my beer goals. Bourbon didn’t grow in spending and I didn’t start chasing whales. I hit the local stores once a week and grabbed a bottle if something spiked my interest or if a favorite was available after being sold out (like a cask strength four roses). I said goodbye to Bruery for 2017 and traded significantly less than previous years. I didn’t lose as much weight as I hoped but it was a fairly healthy year.

For that, this blog has suffered. It’s not something that I foresaw but when the majority of your beer rating happens at festivals and tastings and you’re spending less time doing that, your blog posts will suffer. The majority of the posts here are beer ratings w/ a photo or 3. If you look at my Flickr, there is far less beer than before but not because I’m drinking a lot less than I was in January, it’s that I don’t buy beers to get a rating anymore. I buy the beers I like or open vintage beer I haven’t rated with friends.

Before we get started into the numbers, the question on the future of this blog is a valuable one. Will AdamChandler.Beer exist in 2018? The blog will always exist. I may demote it one day to a sub-domain instead of keeping registration fees but the things I’ve written will live on forever on this site as have everything I’ve written since 1999. It’s all on here if you know the right sub-directories. I keep it alive for me as a time – capsule.

Pending any future health issues as I get older, I’ll always drink beer. No doubt about it. How much I drink and how much I’ll share my drinking habits will depend on how much time is in my day. All of my writing suffered a bit this year but it was only a small low. All I can say as the positive is that the more this blog suffers, the more I can spend on my other hobbies. I never would have been able to buy the house this year if I had continued spending like I did in 2012-2015. Spending $1000+ a month on beer just to take a one ounce pour and drain the rest or box it up and send it across the pond for one rare Belgian beer was not something I could keep doing.

Enough negative-nancy, let’s get into the stats!

Beer Reviews, 2016:

<Needs year in review>

I created a chart that showcases my top 10 beer styles after one year in beer (2012-2013) and comparing these style counts to 2014-2016:

Beer Styles by Year

Below is a total all-time view of my top styles (by rating count, not by score) so this is a mix of styles that are both accessible and preferred.

Top Rated Styles

I was at 74 of 77 last year and have now added 2 additional styles. Nothing changed much in the rank except American Pale Ale took over Belgian Strong Ale

Here are the raw counts of my rated beer-styles by year:

Beer Styles by Year

This was my biggest year ever for Sour Ales mostly because of the few tastings I went to early in the year and some trips where I went to brewers like Wicked Weed and rated dozens of sour beers.

Most Rated Breweries: HF continued to grow and others tapered off especially in breweries I had to trade for

Most Rated Breweries

What was surprising was my top rated breweries by average score given:. Hill Farmstead’s 2016 average score given was 3.8 versus being over 4 between 2012 and 2016. I still love Hill Farmstead but the beers released this year were worse than previous years (if you look at the data). I still rate the beers highly but I think most notable, the series’ Self Reliance and Leaves of Grass were two series that I didn’t care for and they brought the score way down. The saisons however, did not miss a beat and continued to be amazing.

Top Rated breweries

Below is my top states of all time for which I’ve rated beers from broken down showing 2015 & the gains in 2016 (cumulative) from year to year: California, Vermont and Mass went way up but look at PA! The PA rise was simply because the biggest rating month of the year was my weekend trip to Pittsburgh for the Ratebeer Summer Gathering. We visited a lot of PA breweries and I doubled my count for PA. It’s a great state full of a lot of great beer. July 2016 is also my highest month ever at 216 beers rated.

Beers Rated per State

USA for obvious reasons is dominating my highest country rated with no surprises seeing Belgium, Denmark and then Canada. I didn’t go to Belgium in 2015 (I was going to but missed my flight) and therefore I missed out on my yearly BE ratings bump. The bump in Swedish ratings is because I did a trade with Alex in Sweden and he’s a member of Eden’s cider club and I’d send him his beers and he’d return some great Swedish saisons. I’m glad he renewed his Eden membership.

Beers Rated per year

Here’s a visual view to how I am doing in exploring the world:

Countries Rated

RateBeer Monthly Beers Rated: PA in July and my CBC backlog in December made a sizable impact on what was a very low year for new beers rated.

Monthly beers rated

Untappd:

Untappd Checkins

Here is 365 days of Untappd Checkins:

Untappd Stats

47% of the beers I checked into this year were new compared to 58% for last year (link to last year’s stats). Last year, Lambic / Gueuze were 2 of the top 5 styles and now that’s completely gone once again due to travel & the beer cellar of Lambic being completely off-site and inaccessible. Although, it’s always good to add a disclaimer that I don’t check in to Untappd at beer festivals so the new rating is generally beers I had at tastings or at home. Overall unique RateBeer ratings were down for 2016 as were overall new on Untappd (excludes festivals).

Here are my raw Untappd Check-IN numbers for you data nerds

Untappd Monthly

Top Rated Beers in 2016 (All Styles):

 Waiting for My Year in Beer 2016 to be updated on RateBeer!

Top Rated Imperial Stouts (2016):

 Waiting for My Year in Beer 2016 to be updated on RateBeer!

Top Rated Saisons (2016):

 Waiting for My Year in Beer 2016 to be updated on RateBeer!

Top Rated Sour/Wild Ales (2016):

 Waiting for My Year in Beer 2016 to be updated on RateBeer!

Top Rated IPA (India Pale Ale) (2016):

 Waiting for My Year in Beer 2016 to be updated on RateBeer!

Top Rated Lambic Style-Fruit (2016):

 Waiting for My Year in Beer 2016 to be updated on RateBeer!

Beer Trading in 2016:

Here’s what I spent in UPS in 2016:

UPS Spending

Every single month was lower in 2016 versus 2015 except for October. Here’s the break-down by year:

  • 2012 – $2,100 – $175 a month
  • 2013 – $1,655 – $138 a month
  • 2014 – 1,120 – $93 a month
  • 2015 – $1,840 – $153 a month
  • 2016 – $800 – $67 a month

What an astonishing drop-off and the drop will be even more severe (I’d say over 50%) in 2017 because I have not renewed my Bruery membership and won’t be shipping a monthly box to California and back. I fully agree with my 2015 self when I said, “…this blog probably wouldn’t exist but I’d have $6,700 USD in my pocked today if I wasn’t trading beer. That’s real money…significant money. Down payment on a car money…2 maxed out MacBook Pros money or a Canon 5D Mark II w/ 3 L-Glass lenses.”

Well, I did buy a maxed out iMac this year and a motorcycle and a house so dreams can come true and you can get in the habit of drinking local and not wasting hundreds a month on trading beers. I’m actually really thrilled at things dropped so much. They had to for me to be okay financially this year and achieve what I did.

Beer Cellar (2016):

For the last 12 months, Heather and I have basically merged our cellars from a more logical standpoint. We right an A or H on the top of our bottles with a Sharpie to make sure we don’t drink or trade each other’s beer but for the most part, it’s a combined cellar.

I started renting a house in March with zero basement storage so I bought a huge freezer to hold it all.

New Beer Fridge

New Beer Fridge

This only held about 5% of my beer and mostly just holding beer I wanted to drink on-site. The kegerator held a Hill Farmstead IPA, an Eden Cider and a BCS Keg throughout the year pretty much the entire time. The rest of the kegerator was holding IPAs and growlers that needed to be consumed before things in the fridge.

We moved the remainder of our beer off-site so at this point, we have 1250 bottles off-site, another 250 on-site. Yes, it’s a lot.

In our new house, we’ll have a beer-cellar the size of a bedroom that will presumably hold everything we own along with an AC unit. Here’s a rough floor plan:

Overlook NH House Drawings

I can’t wait to share photos with you all once that’s done mid-year. We’re finally going to have all of our beer on-site and accessible. I will have a web cam going in the wine-room that will be accessible via your web-browser so you guys can watch the feed 24/7 and track my inventory for me!

In short, 2016 was when this:

Beer Cellar - Old house (02-2016)

Beer Cellar - Old house (02-2016)

Beer Cellar - February 2015

Beer Cellar - February 2015

Became this in an off-site cellar:

Off-Site Beer Cellar

Here’s a sample of mine and Heather’s CSV Sheet keeping everything in track. I have 122 different beers and she has 150 and this was updated a year ago so I know there’s a lot down there. Just not sure how much. I can’t wait to move it all into one spot

Beer Cellar CSV

Blogging Stats:

2016 was no surprise a low year for stats. No excuses that haven’t already been made but it’s good to share the top posts, top referrers and other info:

Wordpress Stats

Wordpress Stats

(Feel free to click on these images for a better view).

Here is an update on my Flickr Views:

Flickr Stats

For reference, this time last year I had 4.4 million views and now am almost at 5 million. Given that my Flickr is not 100% beer, it’s hard to relate this to beer-only but here we are.

Goals for 2017:

Welcome to the dry part of the post. I decided to use bullets to spice things up a bit:

  • I’ll continue rating beer in 2017
  • Beer Hauls & reviews will still show up on this site
  • I’ll travel to Belgium, Canada and one other country in 2017
  • I’ll be going to Asheville again and taking at least 2 road trips
  • Therefore, it’s safe to say beer will still be a part of my life.
  • What won’t happen is a growth of the scope of this blog or any growth in spending, trading, rating.
  • The big months will be ones where I meet up with my NH locals and we drink but this seems to be about 4-5 times a year.
  • I’ll keep sharing photos with you all of course 🙂

I guess you all could call these ’safe goals’ but I don’t have the money to commit to rating every Cantillon beer or tracking down Hill Farmstead Civil Disobedience #1 or Jim and getting those ratings. I can’t trade for every Schramm’s mead that isn’t offered to mazers (yeah, we only get the scraps after locals get their share) and I can’t promise I’ll still be in the top 5 raters of Gueuze on RateBeer at the end of 2017.

I am certain Ill maintain a top-5 placement for Hill Farmstead as I go up at least once a month to pickup my Collected Works box and grab any new IPAs as well as the usual 2 Liter of Abner to drink solo.

One thing that is most uncertain is if I’ll do a year in review next year. It’s a lot of work to compile all of this data and it’s almost as if the data is just not very exciting. I’m more into drinking beer than writing about it at this point. It’s also a tough year. Every spare dollar I have is going to this house I just bought. Any money after that is going into $900 for brakes on my Golf R and my trip down to Asheville for the annual Golf R / R32 event. I have a motorcycle road trip in April, Belgium in May and trying to afford to put asphalt down in my drive-way and put on a deck. It’s a lot to do in 2016 and I have less money and less time than ever it seems.

Thanks so much for reading and following and for sharing beers with me when I see you all in person in my travels. Here’s to 2017 and more adventures in beer.

PS: Last year was 2500 words and this was 2499. I think it’s a good way to wrap things up. Lower word counts always makes you guys happy 😛

Review: Hill Farmstead Double Nelson

Hill Farmstead Double Nelson

4.3/5

JAN 20, 2017 Draft at Big Fatty’s for Grassroots Tap Event

A – Tangerine color, hazy, orange juice and and an orange white head.

S – Smells like orange juice and cereal and tangerines and pineapple.

T – Incredibly juicy. Really special. Like biting into a Florida juice orange and that includes the rind, seeds and a bit of calcium. It’s chalky but juicy. Effervescent and bright you actually do taste the booze a bit and the sweet thick finish.

M – Really wonderful carbonation. Spiced carbonated water.

O – I think this is just remarkable for the style. A+.

Eden Ciders: “How we make our champagne-style ciders”

I’m a huge fan of Eden’s Sparkling & Ice Ciders. I’m in their quarterly cider club and visit their space twice a year to taste and tour and just enjoy their craft. I received a nice email this morning that explains how they make their sparkling ciders. I’ve tried to explain it to people but this really gets down to the nitty gritty and something my readers may miss if they don’t subscribe to Eden’s newsletters:

If anyone at Eden sees this and wants me to take down this post, just let me know

Our sparkling ciders are naturally sparkling, yet clean, and are made from heirloom and bittersweet cider variety apples.

  1. We start with juice from our ice cider cold concentration process where we freeze fresh pressed juice outdoors in our Northern Vermont winter weather. We use over 15 varieties of heirloom apples grown at Scott Farm, and some McIntosh and Empire from Champlain Orchards.
  2. After the cold weather, the juice is fermented to dryness and left to age in our cellar.
  3. The following Fall, we press fresh bittersweet cider varieties from Scott Farm and Poverty Lane Orchards, two renowned growers of heirloom and cider varieties.
  4. We start the fresh juice fermenting with a basic champagne yeast, and gradually add in the dry fermented cider from the previous harvest.
  5. Then we bottle it before the new fermentation is finished. As the fermentation finishes in the bottle, it creates CO2 naturally that is trapped in the bottle.
  6. After resting in the bottles on their sides, and then upside down for at least 3 months, we hand ‘disgorge’ each bottle. Disgorgement is the process in the champagne method where we pop the cap on the bottle, and the spent yeast that has gathered in the neck explodes out because of the pressure of the CO2. We quickly top off the bottles and then re-cap them.
  7. The total process takes us at least 1 1/2 years, and the result is a highly carbonated cider with a wonderful rolling fizz that is clear and clean, yet unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Sparkling Dry Cider

The bittersweet cider apple component in our Sparkling Dry Cider is Kingston Black grown at Scott Farm. It is totally dry – no residual sweetness – and 8.5% alcohol by volume. It tastes of red apple skins, kiwi, bitter herbs, dry biscuit, and granite.

Sparkling Semi-Dry Cider

For our semi-dry sparkling cider, we use bittersweet varieties grown at Poverty Lane Orchard, including Dabinett, Ellis Bitter, Ashton Bitter, and Yarlington Mill. The cider gets its slight sweetness from the addition of a little bit of our Heirloom Blend ice cider when we are topping off from the disgorgement. This is a 9.5% slightly sweet cider that has zero added sugar. The fermentation and the sweetness are just from the naturally occurring sugars in the apples. 9.5% alcohol, it tastes of baked apples, pineapple, citrus, and beeswax.

Beer Haul: Summer & Fall 2016

I’ve been buying a lot of beer but haven’t done a great job of keeping up with things. You guys can always hit Flickr to see what’s up but here’s everything acquired since my last post

Whiskey Haul, 6-15-2016

Beer Haul, 6-15-2016
Beer Haul, 6-15-2016
Beer Haul, 7-17-2016
Beer Haul, 8-10-2016
Beer Haul, 8-10-2016
Beer Haul, 8-25-2016
Beer Haul, 8-25-2016
Beer Haul, 8-25-2016
Beer Haul, 8-25-2016Beer Haul 9-17-2016

Beer Haul 9-17-2016

Beer Haul 9-17-2016
Beer Haul, 10-4-2016
Beer Haul, 10-4-2016
Beer Haul, 10-4-2016
Cider Haul, 10-7-2016
Beer Haul - 10/14/2016
Beer Haul, 10/24/2016
Beer Haul, 10-29-2016
Beer Haul, 10-29-2016
Beer Haul, 10-29-2016
Beer Haul, 10-29-2016
Wicked Weed Beer Haul, 11-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
Beer Haul, 12-4-2016
There’s probably 12 or so bottles I didn’t photograph that were misc. purchases and I have a lot of Schramm’s mead that is still in Michigan that comes over next Spring. Great year!