The Top 10 Texas Beers of 2012
Taking a look back just four years to former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh's list of Top 10 Texas beers from 2008 shows what a difference a few years make.
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 12: enjoyable fresh and suitable for aging.
While the list holds some very solid selections, like Pale Moon and Live Oak Pilz -- as well as one carry-over to this list-- the sheer diversity and depth of what is available now highlight the slim pickings on that list. Need further proof? His No. 1 pick, Elissa, isn't even the second-best IPA that Saint Arnold brewed this year.
To compile this list, we looked through hundreds of Texas-brewed beers available this year, researched beer review sites like Ratebeer and Beer Advocate as well as the Great American Beer Festival medal results for Texas breweries the past two years. Then, after careful consideration, we took all that useless crap, threw it out and picked our ten favorite beers this year.
Honorable Mention: Deep Ellum Darkest Hour
The beer that put Deep Ellum on our radar late last year also happens to share its name with a completely awesome metal band -- a band with a Houstonian as a member, no less. We've been waiting for the re-release of this seasonal for ten months. The last batch lasted about a week in Houston and with good reason: It rocks.
10. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 12
This years's Divine Reserve release gets props for a couple of reasons. Much like DR 11 (which has been re-released as Endeavour)f Divine Reserve that was enjoyable for the casual beer drinker yet complex enough to satisfy the beer nerds. It's also enjoyable fresh -- something we simply don't feel DR 9 and DR 10 can claim -- as well as being suitable for aging.
9. Austin Beerworks Peacemaker
As we remember it, a handful of ABW's year-round brews could have made this list, but since Austin Beerworks pulled out of Houston, we can't really remember what they taste like. A friend was nice enough to bring back a stash of our favorite, Peacemaker, recently. Drinking the white can was kind of like hooking up with our ex: It turns out she was as awesome as we remember, but the whole experience kind of just stirs up bad memories, so we just stopped halfway through and cried ourselves to sleep.
8. Live Oak Hef
Texas's strong German heritage isn't quite dead yet, especially if Live Oak has something to say about it. This is the old standby. The only carry-over mentioned in Walsh's original article, Live Oak Hef isn't just one of the best beers in Texas, it's arguably one of the best Hefeweizens in the entire country. If you don't like this, you don't like beer.
7. Jester King Le Petit Prince
It seems Jester King may have started to really get a grasp on its wild yeast and souring bacteria flavor profiles. We've seen some great stuff in their last three or four releases. We all know Jester King brews great beer, but things have been a bit uneven the past ten to 12 months, and -- if we are being honest -- we aren't quite over the death of Black Metal. If Le Petit Prince is any indication, Jester King is headed in a good direction.