By Derek Warren - For Weekender

Tap This: 2015 saw a lot of quality craft beers and here are a few you must try

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New Jersey based Kane Brewing Company’s Mexican Brunch is a spicy version of its Sunday Brunch.
Submitted photo
Tree House Brewing’s Julius is a flavorful IPA that tastes of fresh fruit and tropical fruit flavors.
Submitted photo
Ballast Point Brewing Company’s Calm Before the Storm is a lighter version of its Victory at Sea Imperial Porter.
Submitted photo
Founders Brewing Company’s Project PAM bourbon barrel aged black IPA.
Submitted photo
Weyerbacher Brewing Company’s Sunday Morning Stout is an Imperial stout with flavors of chocolate, coffee and bourbon.
Submitted photo
Wicked Weed Brewing’s Freak of Nature was released in bottles in 2015. It has a solid malt backbone with a dry finish.
Submitted photo

While the craft beer market seems very saturated, there is always room for more beer, especially when it is delicious! This year saw the release of some incredible beers as well as first time releases of great beers in packaging to the market.

The sheer volume of beer on the shelves can be overwhelming and some of these releases may have slipped right past without the use of a keen eye. However, here is a short list of some world class beers that became available this year. Some may be easier to get your hands on than others, but they are all incredible and worth trying!

1. Founders Brewing Company- Project PAM: It is getting to be a yearly tradition that Founders releases a beer that is one of the best for the year and this one just made it in under the wire with its December release. Project PAM showcases a wonderful array of flavors and allow the brewers to truly highlight their skills. This 10.8 percent Bourbon barrel aged Black IPA is kicked up a notch with the addition of maple syrup. The result is a beer that is incredibly smooth with strong notes of oak and bourbon with a subtle hop bite and wonderfully sweet maple syrup that provides the perfect balance for this world class beer. Any fan of bourbon barrel aged beers or dark beers in general will want to hunt this one down!

2. Ballast Point Brewing Company – Calm Before the Storm: Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Imperial Porter has long been one of the brewery’s most coveted beers, but many have asked for a lighter version that is better for the summer months. This year the brewery perfected a version that ticked all the right boxes. Calm Before the Storm is a 5.5 percent ABV Cream Ale with fresh coffee. The Cream Ale base with coffee is the perfect combination of a light summer beer with darker beer qualities. While many craft beer drinkers tend to overlook cream ales, this one certainly reestablished the style to many.

3. Wicked Weed Brewing – Freak of Nature DIPA: North Carolina-based Wicked Weed has been creating quite a stir in the craft beer realm with its world class sour beers along with incredible hop forward IPAs. Freak of Nature was first released on draft in 2013, but 2015 saw the release in bottles to the general market. This dank, pungent, hop forward West Coast leaning DIPA is a hopheads dream with a solid malt backbone and bone dry finish. Wicked Weed has somewhat limited availability currently, but the brewery is growing fast and more markets will start to receive its world class beers soon.

4. Tree House Brewing – Julius: Tree House Brewing has become one of the most sought after breweries in the country thanks to its absolutely incredible beers. The brewery has extremely limited distribution as they struggle to keep up with the demand for their beer being sold out of their Monson, Massachusetts taproom. Julius is one of the juiciest, most flavorful IPAs you will ever enjoy. The tastes of fresh fruit explode almost like biting into a fresh peach with tropical fruit flavors. Julius is also a beer that has been available from the brewery since its inception in 2012, but 2015 saw the availability in cans, not that it is any easier to get, but whatever troubles you incur trying to get your hands on some, it will be worth it.

5. Weyerbacher Brewing Company – Sunday Morning Stout: PA’s own Weyerbacher unleashed a beast of a beer earlier this year with its Sunday Morning Stout. Many have compared this Imperial Stout to Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout or Founders KBS, but with an even higher drinkability factor. Flavors of chocolate, coffee and bourbon abound in an incredibly smooth and surprisingly easy drinking stout. Be on the lookout for this beer in 2016 as it releases early in the year and it is sure to sell out very quickly.

6. Kane Brewing Company – Mexican Brunch: Kane Brewing, from New Jersey, is another semi-new brewery that has hit the ground running with incredible beers. Sunday Brunch was an immediate hit for the brewery with the addition of cinnamon, maple syrup and fresh coffee to an imperial milk porter base making a drool worthy beer that is a must try beer for all. However, the brewery decided to kick this beer up a bit with the release of Mexican Brunch. The Sunday Brunch was used as a base with a perfect dosing of spices imparting a slight, but delicious spicy kick.

Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.

Grab one of these craft brews and ring in the new year

By Derek Warren

For Weekender

New Jersey based Kane Brewing Company’s Mexican Brunch is a spicy version of its Sunday Brunch.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Kane.jpgNew Jersey based Kane Brewing Company’s Mexican Brunch is a spicy version of its Sunday Brunch. Submitted photo

Tree House Brewing’s Julius is a flavorful IPA that tastes of fresh fruit and tropical fruit flavors.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_treehousebrewing.jpgTree House Brewing’s Julius is a flavorful IPA that tastes of fresh fruit and tropical fruit flavors. Submitted photo

Ballast Point Brewing Company’s Calm Before the Storm is a lighter version of its Victory at Sea Imperial Porter.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_ballast.jpgBallast Point Brewing Company’s Calm Before the Storm is a lighter version of its Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Submitted photo

Founders Brewing Company’s Project PAM bourbon barrel aged black IPA.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_ProjectPAM_bottle_web2.jpgFounders Brewing Company’s Project PAM bourbon barrel aged black IPA. Submitted photo

Weyerbacher Brewing Company’s Sunday Morning Stout is an Imperial stout with flavors of chocolate, coffee and bourbon.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_sunday-morning-stout.jpgWeyerbacher Brewing Company’s Sunday Morning Stout is an Imperial stout with flavors of chocolate, coffee and bourbon. Submitted photo

Wicked Weed Brewing’s Freak of Nature was released in bottles in 2015. It has a solid malt backbone with a dry finish.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_WickedWeedLogo.jpgWicked Weed Brewing’s Freak of Nature was released in bottles in 2015. It has a solid malt backbone with a dry finish. Submitted photo
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Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.