Editor’s note: 2017 saw us tasting many, many great craft beers. Over the next couple of weeks, our team will be sharing their favourites – first up, Allison Needham Couillard.

Falcon Smash IPA and Clever Girl IPA

Triple Crossing Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia have consistently provided craft beer drinkers with excellent brews, and this made my choice to choose just one impossible.

I’m not alone – when writing up their awards for the best double IPA’s around the country, Paste Magazine posited,

Theory: Richmond, Virginia is secretly the best IPA city in the United States—and thus the world. Evidence: The Veil. Hardywood Park. The Answer Brewpub. And last, but certainly not least, Triple Crossing. These guys are Richmond’s secret weapon, and it’s not a new development—they’ve been a great brewery for quite a while, and one that hasn’t received the praise and national attention that was due to them.

This is why two of their beers are at the top of my go-to list.  I tried to choose between their Clever Girl and Falcon Smash, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pick one over the other.  

Each of them is an excellent example of different styles of IPA. Paste Magazine’s IPA awards resulted in Falcon Smash coming in at #40 and Clever Girl ranking #17 out of 247 IPA’s sampled.  

Both are satisfying year round – just as delectable in the hot summer sun or by the fire on a snowy day.  

Someday I may have a blind head-to-head tasting to settle on my absolute favorite, but there’s plenty of room in my life for two phenomenal IPA’s, so I’m happy to settle for loving each of them the most.  

Game Theory Russian Imperial Vanilla Stout 

When first tasked with picking my top 3 (ok… I cheated and did 4) beers of 2017, my mind immediately jumped back to enjoying a few brews at Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint over Memorial Day weekend.

 I try a lot of beers over the course of a year, so the fact that Game Theory, from Three Notch’d Brewing Company in Charlottesville, VA stuck out even after seven months says a lot about just how fantastic it is.  

Game Theory is a Russian Imperial Vanilla Stout that was light enough to be pleasant even in late May in Virginia. It was balanced and flavorful without being syrupy sweet like some lesser vanilla stouts.  I savored every sip of that 10 ounce pour.  

I’m always pleased with the high quality beers that Three Notch’d offers at its main brewery and its Richmond, VA collab house, but Game Theory stands out even among their bevy of scrumptious brews.  

Velvet Merkin Bourbon Barrel Oatmeal Stout

When our favorite Jack Brown’s beertender, Jackie, suggested that we try Velvet Merkin, my husband and I did so at the first opportunity.  It was stunningly good!  

I love bourbon, and I love beer, but I’m not often a fan of bourbon barrel brews.  Velvet Merkin, from Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, CA is an exception.  

This bourbon barrel oatmeal stout with the humorous name (go ahead… look up “merkin”) had bourbon barrel flavor without being overly boozy-tasting.  

The chocolate and coffee flavors were easily noticeable without competing, and the aroma of the beer was simply lovely.  Firestone Walker calls this “the beer that almost wasn’t,” but they made a terrific decision in bringing it back.  

Well, that’s my top three (okay, four) craft beers from 2017. If you get a chance to try any, please do – you won’t be disappointed!

Allison Needham Couillard

Allison Needham Couillard

In addition to being a beer lover, Allie is a nerd who loves to read, bake, travel, and eat; she also has a killer sock collection. Allie and her husband, Tim, have been known to base travel destinations on the number of local breweries. Her two dogs, Newton and Sheldon, aren't beer drinkers, but they do support her hobby by tagging along to dog-friendly breweries and drinking in the sunshine while she drinks everything else. Favorite beers: browns, sours, citrusy IPAs, anything tart and refreshing
Allison Needham Couillard

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