Before we begin, here are previous years:
- Year in Review and 2012 Plans in Beer
- Year in Review and 2013 Plans in Beer
- Year in Review and 2015 Plans in Beer
- Year in Review and 2016 Plans in Beer
- Year in Review and 2017 Plans in Beer
- Year in Review and 2018 Plans in Beer
- Year in Review and 2020 Plans in Beer
Before writing this year’s review, I looked back at previous years and, like all hobbies the first few years were seriously intense. I’m glad that I’ve been able to enjoy beer today versus the obsession that it was just 6-10 years ago. We’re entering a new decade and while I can’t promise the ‘year in beer’ will continue, I don’t thin I’ll give it up any time soon.
Maybe that’s a good thing to talk about which is my December scare that I would be giving up beer for ever. I started sending out feelers to friends who could take my cellar off my hands. The reason being my gallbladder removal which, at the time, I wasn’t sure that’s what it is. We had liver tests done because that’s what you do when someone is having liver issues. I was concerned that a decade of intense drinking caused this. I’ve never been chemically dependent but the health implications are real. I had some 2014/2013 beers that needed to be consumed so the 1st half of the year, I had nine 750ML bottles of a 21% imperial stout. I had over 50 bottles of 15% imperial stout this year and this is just 2 beers out of 330 unique and 545 total drinks in 2020.
I had very serious concerns that had had caused damage to my liver and therefore would be hanging it up for good. It turns out my liver is fine and perfectly healthy which isn’t a free pass to continue drinking like I was. While many of my beer friends are still at their old paces, most of them have stopped drinking entirely for financial or health reasons. They see the effects and have hung up the hobby. This isn’t lost on me and I will be more vigilant about my health in the coming years to ensure I stay healthy. I have zero concern for alcoholism…there’s none in my family, I take monthly and weekly breaks without any effects and don’t exhibit any symptoms of someone with a problem. Heather works in clinical substance abuse as a psychologist and has told me I’m in the clear. However, damage to my body is huge. These aren’t normal beers. Doctors don’t think a beer can be 20% ABV and only come in 750ML bottles. They would advise every patient to never drink something like that especially when it has added chocolate and other ‘pastry’ adjuncts. The internet will tell you that beer and diabetes isn’t really an issue but those researchers aren’t away of pastry stouts.
This was the first year I wasn’t a member of Bruery’s Reserve Society (since 2013), Eden Ice Cider Founders Club (since 2014), Schramm’s Mead (2014) and I didn’t do a single beer-trade. Dropping those 3 clubs saved a ton of cash. Bruery was cheaper in 2018/19 due to their local pickups at the DC warehouse.
Keeping Hill Farmstead still cost me just about $1200 in beer this year. No shipping required and thanks to COVID-19, I only visited their brewery in Vermont 3 times this year. Heather went up maybe 3 more times to grab IPA cans and growlers this Summer but still, that was money well spent because the program holds back one of every new release and auto charges your card and due to the pandemic, they held our bottles until December.
Heather, as a surprise (thanks?) joined Bruery RS for 2020. I know she had fun buying all of the beers and looks forward to picking them all up next month but she’ll soon realize just how high alcohol and boozy these beers are. In a year where we plan on getting married, I imagine her RS bottles are going to remain in the basement aging for at least a year until we open them…partly because of wedding…partly because I have 5 cases of Bruery still in the basement from previous years.
Dropping Schramm’s was hard, I love their meads but I had over a hundred in the basement and the same goes for Eden. It was not sustainable from a pure waste to maintain that membership.
RateBeer has yet to publish their ‘2020 year in beer’ for my user account but I can share some figures just based on my profile:
2020 was my lowest month ever for ratings. It’s not even funny how little I rated but I want my RateBeer friends to know that I still will rate every single beer I open that is new to me. Just because I’m not seeking out new beers doesn’t mean I won’t rate something I haven’t had yet. The case and the Pokemon mentality of it all caused me to have a lot of issues with overspending and over drinking.
I rated 170 beers in 2020. My highest year was 1127 in a year and highest month was July 2016 at 216. I don’t have any regrets considering everything already said but I know some friends hassle me about rating more. It’s not goin to happen. It think my average will remain about 200 for the foreseeable future. Had I gone to Europe or California this year, I probably would have done more but no travel and staying home can certainly play a part here but I don’t think by much. I don’t really just go to a new pub and rate everything. Most of the beers are crap anyway.
Once you’ve had 6,0000 beers, you sort of settle on what you like.
I did have a few new top 100 beers in 2020. These are beers that are in my top 100. Nothing kicked my top 50 but…
- Self Reliance from Hill Farmstead, Galaxy at 98 and 4.5 score
- The Bruery Black Tuesday – Peruvian Marañón Cacao Nibs at 96 with a 4.5
- Hill Farmstead Genealogy: Coffee Collective (Akmel Nuri) at 93 with a 4.5
- The Bruery Sucré (Portuguese Brandy) at 89 with a 4.5
- Schramm’s Heritage at 67 with a 4.5
- Eden Brut Nature with a 4.6 at number 62 on my list
It was nice to get a few new top 100s. As I look through my top 50 list, no regrets…these are all still top 50s and none of those beers I listed would have kicked them out.
Let’s dive into the Untappd 2020 Beer Statistics:
You can see a LOT of days without beer in late 2020 when I took a long break of over a month. 2019, I had 634 beers and 411 were unique and the consolidation which has been a trend for 5 years of drinking less unique beers continue this year. This figure resets every year so 330 unique beers not 330 new beers of all time so if I check in to a Heady Topper on January 1st, that’s one of my unique beers.
Vermont(Hill Farmstead), California (Bruery), NC (Wicked Weed), Illinois (Goose Island) and Vlaanderen (Lambic region of Belgium) dominate. My top 3 beers were imperial stouts and it turns out that I drank so much from my Goose Island Bourbon County Kegs, that I’m now the top drinker of all time of 2014 and 2013 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and #3 drinker of Bruery Chocolate Rain….wait until I tell my doctor.
The Venus..well, everything after the top 2 was before March lock down happened.
These days & times are consistent with previous years. I don’t really start drinking until 5Pm and most of it is on Saturday. That’s 140 check-ins all year by the way, not in one day :)
Also, I love seeing my little cheese-avatar on all of these beers. I’m on the top row of most of them which for better or for worse is exciting (or lame, IDK)
…at least I’m consistent.
I wanted to add a bit more math to this blog post by looking at my Untappd CSV export and let’s look at things by year:
Average ABV by year:
- 2020: 9.05%
- 2019: 8.397
- 2018: 8.655
- 2017: 7.849
So average ABV is up 1.2% since 2017. Trend is not looking good, not even any outliers.
Due to COVID, I only drank at 26 different Venus in 2020..well 4 of those were my house or my friends houses but they still count. This is versus 60 in 2019.
2021, well the first half of the year will be spent in extended hibernation. Truly no beer purchases at all. Hill Farmstead is closed until April and I can’t get beer shipped from Belgium because it’s too cold and I won’t be traveling to Europe to buy beer in person. With the only beer club I had left, Hill Farmstead on hiatus until Labor Day they say, I’m going to spend H1 doing 2 things….losing some weight so I don’t look terrible in a wedding tux and drinking the beer I have. Heather does an annual beer inventory and we always put our oldest bottles front & center. I’m sure we’ll find some 2012 and 2013 beers that need to get consumed and those will be my priority and then 2015 beers next year and so on.
I’m going to head downstairs now and pour a 2011 Westvleteran 12 and maybe chill a mid-200s lambic and enjoy those tonight with burgers. I wish you all a great 2021.