By Julia Burke, Beer Editor

6a00d8341d0dbb53ef01348907e725970c-800wi For the very first time, the NYCR’s Wines of the Year tasting this coming weekend will include a "Beers of the Year" category as well. I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the most creative and delicious craft brews from across the state with my fellow NYCR contributors and editors.

Having tasted and re-tasted many, many excellent New York beers throughout the year, five have risen to the top of the heap as truly outstanding.

There are, of course, some logistical issues unique to beer that we had to consider. One was the question of vintage. Most microbreweries combine a regular year-round lineup of routine beers with a seasonal series and, occasionally, specialty or even one-off batches of particularly off-the-wall items. For this reason I don’t have a set “vintage” rule of thumb, but all finalists were released in 2010 (the Flying Bison barleywine was brewed in 2009 but cellared until 2010).

Second, many breweries make very special beers that can only be found on tap at the brewery or in local bars, but such limited distribution and the practicality of bringing growlers to the tasting led us to limit finalists to bottled beers.

I did not have specific rules about styles of beer or regions represented, but it happened to work out that my favorite beers of the year comprise five styles and hail from western New York, southwestern New York, the Finger Lakes, and downstate.

I would proudly pour any of these beers for assemblies of beer geeks anywhere in the world, showcasing the talent, creativity and innovation taking place in our great state. Without further ado, the New York Cork Report 2010 Beers of the Year Finalists:

 We'll sample these Saturday at the conclusion of the wine portion of our tasting — with a simple majority vote determining our beer of the year.