Before I depart 99 Bottles for good, I give you this, my list of the best beers that have come out of the Boston area in the past few years. In no particular order, and limiting myself to one choice per brewery, they are...
Backlash Declaration: An assertive citrus bomb from Backlash Beer, Declaration marries a Belgian IPA with an American double IPA. Hazy orange with scents ranging from passion fruit and mango to banana, pine, and clove. Grapefruit is at the forefront of a profile that's dry and spicy. 7.2 percent alcohol.
Mystic Saison: Darker than most other saisons and higher in alcohol as well, Mystic Brewery's outstanding saison is vibrant, robust, and full of flavor, with a pleasant aftertaste. The Belgian yeast very much present in the aroma, which suggests bananas as well as pears. 7 percent alcohol.
Idle Hands Triplication: Unexpectedly dry and citrusy, this tripel from Idle Hands Craft Ales is a unique take on the style. Cloudy orange with a billowing head, Triplication has a subdued aroma and a tart taste. Oranges, pink grapefruits, and pepper intermingle with the grain bill. 9 percent alcohol.
Jack's Abby Hoponius Union: Jack's Abby calls Hoponius Union an "India pale lager," and indeed it tastes more like an India pale ale than a pale lager, which is what it is. Intensely hopped, it has an amazing aroma: grapefruit, lemon, grass, and bits of tropical fruit. Crisp and light with a dry finish. 6.7 percent alcohol.
Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer: Pitch black with a thin brown head, this is a serious Russian imperial stout. Pungent espresso notes spill out of this thick, viscous malt monster. It even tastes black -- bittersweet chocolate, French roasted coffee beans, smoke. Yet it's smooth, with an ever-so-slightly bitter aftertaste. 10 percent alcohol.
Mayflower Spring Hop: An amber ale with a small head, Mayflower Brewing Co.'s spring seasonal actually smells and tastes like a spring day. Loaded with four varieties of aromatic hops, it emits an aroma of flowers and fresh-cut grass. Dry and earthy with citrus overtones. 5 percent alcohol.
Cambridge Brewing Co. Bannatyne's Scotch Ale: Cambridge Brewing Co. has been making this wee heavy on and off for more than a decade but began bottling it only this year. Dark brown with mahogany accents, Bannatyne's explodes with flavor (molasses, brown sugar, fig, prune) and aroma (dark fruit, vanilla, cherry). 9.2 percent alcohol.
Pretty Things Jack D'Or: Pretty Things' flagship beer has been around since 2008, but it's the best beer in Boston. A hoppy saison with a complex but subdued aroma, floral overtones, and a pleasing amount of bitterness, Jack D'Or is a delicious take on the style. I almost always have a bottle in my house. 6.4 percent alcohol.
Tomorrow: one final review. And it's a big one.