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Monday, December 19, 2016

Satori Time of Year

When this blog started, I gave out an annual award for the best new release called the Satori Award:

In Zen Buddhism, satori is the moment of sudden enlightenment when the mind realizes its own true nature. The Satori Award honors a debuting beer that in a single instant, through the force of tastiness and elan, produces a flash of insight into the nature of beer. I award it for the beer released in the previous year (roughly) by an Oregon brewery (roughly) for a regular or seasonal beer.  
I managed to do this through 2012, and then, overwhelmed by new beers, I threw in the towel. Last year I happened to take note of an old Satori post and was struck by the beers I'd previously chosen: Ninkasi Believer (2006) Full Sail Lupulin (2007), Cascade Apricot Ale (2008),  Upright Four (2009),  Prodigal Son Bruce/Lee Porter (2010),  Fort George 1811 Lager (2011), and Occidental Pilsner (2012). That's a good-looking list, isn't it? I decided to pick up the tradition again, tentatively, last year. Obviously, I can't possibly taste every new beer that comes out--no one can. But it's possible to single out a beer that really spoke to me, that I would be happy to drink again and again. Last year I added Culmination Euphoric IPA (a brett IPA) to the list.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this tradition is poring over the beers of the past year to see which sang to me. Thanks partly by prodding from Willamette Week's Martin Cizmar, I've gone back through 2016. I'll announce a Satori winner in the next couple weeks, but here is an expanded list of beers that thrilled me. (Not all of them debuted in 2016, a rule I'm getting more lax about to accommodate the sheer number of beers--but they're not too long in the tooth, either.)
Two fairly large asterisks are my failure to get down to Wolves and People or to adequately explore Matt Van Wyk's new Alesong project. Apologies. And of course, many of my best experiences drinking beer this year occurred while sipping old favorites from breweries you might expect to see on the list. Most of the best beers in the state weren't released last year. Someday we'll have an award to celebrate them.

My list is in no special order, and the top four that I'm most strongly considering are scattered throughout. Stay tuned for the thrilling announcement of this year's Satori winner!

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