Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Top Ten UK Beers For 2011

1. BrewWharf VS The Danko

Loads of strawberry; massive fruity vibe, sticky and sugary in the mouth but one amazing mind-meld. Off the scale og and authenticly-styled to the Dupont factor. It is fantastic that two great guys with little brewing experience can churn out something this unique yet this authentic. It doesn't get better than that. Given the added circumstances of BrewWharf problems and exploding casks adding extra pressure then this is one amazing venture. Danko come back and brew another beer.

2. The Kernel Citra Single Hop

Stunning fruit blend; tropical storm in a glass, a bit hazy (unfined!) and bittery but flavoursome in all the right aspects. A stunning take on the classic Citra hop which has been my hop for 2011.

3. Oakham Citra - Merton Winter Beer Festival

Golden colour and excellent lacing, conditioning is stunning and a superb take on the citra hop. I really can’t complain and would love to compare this with the Kernel Citra. I love this hop and the grapefruit bounce and frutiy vibe is so flavoursome and drinkable and enjoyable. No overtly aggressive hopping but balanced; poised and stunning.

4 Thornbridge Geminus

This beer was the highlight of GBBF and the evening. It gave me a huge headache yet it is the most fantastic rye beer which I've ever had. The hops were insane and just perfect really. I was too happy to make notes but wow wow wow.

5 Steel City - Shadow Play

Really pleased with how this turned out at the festival but traveling with the take out and the beer definitely regressed by the time it got to London which was a shame. This is my 600th scoop chosen beer! Excellent oaky-coffee-bittery espresso aroma; similar to Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti. also dark raw chocolate, hint of vanilla and LOADS of good hops! Yes HOPS! Taste is shit loads of velvet; bitter espresso, raw chocolate, maybe a hint of vanilla bean, tad edge of sourness, balanced and incredibly drinkable. Can drink this all year round. fantastic work.

6 Green Jack Baltic Trader

Now we’re talking. A huge impy; death black appearance, good lacing, looking very promising. Aroma is liquorish, coffee, smoke and chocolate by the bucket. Taste is sweet malts; Swiss milk chocolate, coffee, smoke, some lovely sour note which has me gasping for more, faint raspberry, treacle and toffee. Hits hard and delivers. Excellent.

7 Crouch Vale Pioneer

Lovely golden-yellow colour below lacing and strong gold appearance through the body; similar to the classic Brewer's Gold. Aroma is straw; hey, raspberries and floral hops. Taste is raspberries; floral hops, so succulent through the body, excellent bitterness, can session this all day long. Just drink it and bask.

8 Hopshackle Caskadia

Appearance is copper-yellow with thin, off-white lacing. The nose is lime; grapefruit, honey and nectar. Taste is grapefruit; honey, lime, fresh bread, gorgeous hop-bite and thirst quenching. Would LOVE to have this in the summer with a steak meal. Such a quaffable beer. Hats off to Hopshackle for another great gem.

9 Harwich Town The Suffolk

Aroma is nectar; blackcurrant, cherries, taste is roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, syrup, toffee, sweet honey, Ace drrinkability Just super.

10 Windsor and Eton Conqueror

Off-white lacing, opaque black red appearance, aroma is oak, cherry, coffee, black licorish taste is coffee, chocolate, herry, oak, nice bitterness, good drinking. Would like to see more of this. I really love Black IPA I do.

I've mainly been drinking The Kernel all year but I thought I'd give a nice diverse range and focusing on important breweries for 2011 and ones which I think will make great strides in 2012. There has been a lot of problems at some breweries in 2011 but many have excelled and only improved from their set backs.

I hope with 2012 we will see a huge surge in craft beer and the uprising will continue. It doesn't have to be keg. It doesn't have to be cask. It has to be good; bold, flavoursome and appealing. We have to branch out to other sectors and defend ourselves.

Also the Government's constant attack on beer and their huge ignorance on beer is something which has to change. Tied pub cos and crap chemically-fuelled beer at so many locations is a huge problem. We want and we deserve a level playing field where we can go out to just a random pub and get the real craft produce instead of something tied or a bought out pub by a huge firm with a massive wallet.

Appreciation of what goes into the beer and how it is made is another personal journey for me in 2012 for I hope to expand on my first assistant brew day and do my first proper brew.

Here is to 2012 and all the great beers we will consume.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Top Ten Foreign Beers of 2011

Ok I guess it's time for this.

I have been drinking a fair amount during 2011. I have been fortunate to visit a few gatherings where copious amounts of small quantities of beer has been thrusted onto my eager hands.

1 Ballast Point Sculpin.

2 Alvinne Beer Geek Wedding in London City.

3. De Dolle Dulle Teve 10º (Mad Bitch).

The aroma is loads of candi sugar; fudge, marzepan, hey and toffee and caramel. Taste is burnt toast; caramel, toffee, fudge cake, some bubblegum, really nice balance

4. De Molen Hemel & Aarde (Heaven & Earth) Bruichladdich Barrel.

Pitch black opaque on appearance with a nice mocha lacing, a little patchy but very nice. Aroma is pure whiskey; smoke, peat, wood, oak, some moderate grains, chocolate and coffee. Taste is rich dark raw chocolate; cream, vanilla, oak, single malt whiskey, coffee, stunning blending, stunning biterness, roasted malts, extremely balanced and drinkable.

5 De Struise Black Messy - 39% and drinkable.

6 Mikkeller 黑 / Black (Whisky Edition) (White wax).

Taste is a rich big bad malty affair; maybe not the best balance but definitely rich, bold, aggressive, intimidating, well pumped of booze, whiskey, smoke, wood, oak, lots of wood chip, slight grainial element, leather, earthyness, bitterness is fantastic, so so mourish and drinkability is not bad for something this potent!

7 Lost Abbey The Angels Share (Bourbon Barrel).

FULL on candi sugar; marzepan, barely, black currents, figgs, raisins, chocolate, oak, leathery goodness and some citrus hidden gently. Taste is striking; exhaustingly complicated, the senses lit up devinely. I am knocked out. Thick velvet; rich Belgian truffle chocolate, marzepan, candi-sugar, treacle oozes down my throat like a juggernaut, STUNNING blending, balance is superb. The malt is stunning, loads of nice booze and whiskey but the descent stuff, wood, oak, cherries, soy source, leather, could really do with some coffee.

8 Stoudts Fat Dog Stout (Vintages 2004 and later).

I love the oatmeal aroma. Pure stunning. Held up incredibly well after a year’s worth of aging. Loads of chocolate and cream and oatmeal and rye on aroma. Some coffee too. Taste is oatmeal; cream, chocolate, good bitterness, stunning blending, balanced soo well, really great beer.

9 Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Stout.

Aroma is espresso; vanilla, oak, burnt toast, marzepan and chocolate. Taste is chocolate, Belgian truffles, Devonshire cream, sharp penetrating velvet, big bourbon, oak, wood chips, roasted malts, sticky toffee pudding and big booze but so well measured and balanced. Damn this is a world class beer!

10 Founders' Breakfast Stout

Chocolate; coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, leather, bitterness is really strong but such a fantastic bitterness I am reeling, why can’t other beers have this kind of bitterness? Wow. This is an extreme shot of coffee; like a double of your favourite Americana coffee in one glass, some smoke, some really tough complex Swiss dark chocolate, some Devonshire cream and a full whack of character which is balanced, poised and extreme.

Honourable mentions:

Mikkeller Black Tie
Alesmith Speedway
Alesmith Speedway Barrel Aged