Underdogs and Juggernauts

The 10 best new restaurants of 2012.

Royal Scandal is the beer that earned fledgling brewery Peticolas its gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival this year, but we can't get past our love affair with Velvet Hammer. There is nothing quite like it in Texas right now. Plus, everyone loves a good phallic reference. Look out for big things from these guys in 2013.

3. Karbach Bourbon Barrel-Aged Hellfighter

The first keg we had of this beer was a muddled mess, so its turnaround in later kegs is a drastic improvement. Subsequent pints of Barrel-Aged Hellfighter were far more composed, and despite our qualms over Karbach's style issues — this beer isn't a Porter by most definitions — it's hard to deny this is a fantastic barrel-aged beer.

Which restaurant is the new standard-bearer for 2013?
Mai Pham
Which restaurant is the new standard-bearer for 2013?
Fun, bright ceviches at La Fisheria.
Troy Fields
Fun, bright ceviches at La Fisheria.

2. Southern Star Buried Hatchet

One might think the four-year-old brewery in Conroe — you can find an early mention of it in the Robb Walsh article above — is resting on its laurels, but that's not the case. Instead of rolling out seven or eight new beers a year, the brewery has been content to slowly add seasonals and to release its popular Pro-Am series yearly. When you make a beer as good as Buried Hatchet, you don't have to get wild. On that note, look for Southern Star to unleash some crazy in've been warned.

1. Jester King Beer Geek Rodeo

Jester King made waves early in its existence by collaborating with gypsy brewing legend Mikkel Borg Bjergsø in 2011 to produce Drink'in the Sunbelt. For their second stint with Mikkeller, the guys out in Austin produced three variations of this Imperial Oatmeal Stout with coffee and pepper notes: Beer Geek Rodeo, Weasel Rodeo (brewed with Kopi Luwak) and Whiskey Barrel Rodeo, which — you guessed it — is a whiskey-aged variation. The "original" version is our favorite, as there is really no need to mess with a beer this good.

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