Not counting this one, I wrote 42 Beer and Metal posts in 2013. It’d be impossible for me to pick my favorites—I love all my babies equally!—but I can certainly tell you which were the most popular. Google Analytics knows more about these posts than Santa Claus knows about naughty kids.
Just missing the top ten were my columns on fledgling botanical brewers Forbidden Root, the debut of Gary’s 18th Street Brewery, Off Color’s “Mischief” pop-up bar, and Oktoberfest-style beers from Metropolitan, Revolution, and Two Brothers.
Here, without further ado, are the most read Beer and Metal posts of 2013:
10. The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer: Still completely ridiculous, still definitely great Not remembering shit is a common side effect of FOBAB, as I pointed out in my thorough but barely coherent review. These beers are more than a match for the puny human brain, but I still managed to write more than 1,700 words about them.
9. Cerveza de los Muertos: Where did this stuff come from? If you’re a remotely normal person, you spent exactly no time wondering how this “Mexican Craft Beer” appeared so suddenly on shelves all over Chicago. But I am not remotely normal, and after a weekend of half-assed Internet sleuthing, I concluded that Cerveza de los Muertos most likely comes from Molson Coors.
8. Super Brew 15: I know what you’re thinking, but don’t. Just don’t. This is the worst beer I’ve ever tasted, and I made no attempt to spare its feelings. “I feel like somebody cleaned a motorcycle chain in my mouth,” I wrote, “then gave me a Werther’s to make it up to me.” The line quoted back to me most often? “Unlike the solid citizen writing for J Street Beer Review, I have tasted asshole, and the comparison to Super Brew 15 is profoundly unfair to assholes.” Would you believe it was just a really crowded bus?
7. Three Floyds and Pelican team up again, this time for the black IPA Immutable Dusk I assume I have Pelican fans to thank for this post’s ranking. Visiting Munster to review the band’s latest Three Floyds collaboration was a kick: I got to walk through a door that says “Keep Out” at the back of the pub and have brewer Ryan Parkes pour me a glass of Immutable Dusk straight from the bright tank, less than 20 minutes after it’d finished conditioning. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.
6. DryHop may not need a good review, but they’re getting one When DryHop opened in June, people descended on the place in such numbers that I figured any recommendation I might give would be entirely gratuitous. But I went ahead and wrote a positive review, and DryHop has kept right on earning it—most recently I had the pleasure of drinking My Mirrors Are Black, a brilliant Cuban-inspired coffee-guava stout.
5. In his house at Goose Island Clybourn dead Cthulhu waits dreaming An imperial oatmeal stout aged for 11 months in an 18-year Elijah Craig bourbon barrel and released in July, Cthulhu went on to win a gold medal in the Strong Porter/Stout category at FOBAB in November—which helped me feel vindicated for giving it a tongue bath. I’m not going to pretend that anything can excuse all my horrible Lovecraft jokes, though.
4. Dark Lord Day spreads out and levels up for 2013 The best Dark Lord Day yet, at least in my limited experience, thanks mostly to a long-overdue expansion of the festival into the green space around the brewery. A stranger complimented my headbanging during High on Fire, former Sun-Times digital editor Marcus Gilmer gave me his extra brisket taco, and the gentleman who poured me a glass of Space Station: Middle Finger flipped me the bird. Oh, and Dark Lord is still pretty good, guys!
3. Goose Island’s Gillian: Can a $30 beer be worth it? I’d been waiting since spring 2010 for another go at this beer. (At that point it was called Scully, after the X-Files character.) And yes, it was worth it. My only disappointment was that I failed to get Gillian Anderson’s attention on Twitter when my review went live.
2. Brace yourselves: Here come Goose Island’s 2013 Bourbon County variants My advance review of the calamitously hyped Bourbon County variants was the Reader‘s fifth most read post of the year—that’s counting everything on the blog, not just Beer and Metal entries. Visitors spent an average of five minutes and 45 seconds on the page—not the best that one of my posts has done, but almost quadruple the site average. Which suggests that most people are actually reading all 2,600+ words. I mean, thanks, everybody, but aren’t you worried you’re getting as crazy as I am?
1. Redd’s Apple Ale: So is it swill or what? This was not only the top-performing Beer and Metal column from 2013 but also the Reader‘s most trafficked blog post of the year, with more than three times as many page views as my BCBS review. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re one of the only people to write seriously about an exhaustively advertised MillerCoors product that’s distributed on several continents. Anyway, I hope posting a King Giant song made the band a few new fans.
After that countdown, there’s only one way to sign off.
Ha ha! No, but seriously, folks, I can do better than that.
First, you should take a look at this post from Guys Drinking Beer, who’ve written about their top ten beers of 2013. There’s no way I could compile such a list, since I haven’t been keeping notes all year, and as such I don’t feel like I’m stepping on my own toes by telling you to read theirs.
Second, here’s Norwegian band Faustcoven covering Pentagram’s “Day of Reckoning” on their 2003 demo The March of Cloven Hooves. “Day of Reckoning” comes from the 1987 Pentagram album of the same name, recorded when guitarist Victor Griffin was still in the band. Not at all by coincidence, in summer 2011, after Griffin returned to Pentagram and before he left again, the Reader ran an Artist on Artist interview where he talked with his old friend Ron Holzner, formerly of Chicago doom-metal pioneers Trouble and currently of Earthen Grave.