Though the aftermath from Saturday night has me shaking slightly at the idea of doing a beer top ten, it’s as good a topic to tackle as any… It’s an extremely tough call, as always, and I can’t wait to read the email protests of “Wait a minute, what about [X]??”.
- Little Creatures Pale Ale: 5.2% fruity, zesty pale ale, brewed at one of my favourite places in the world: Fremantle, Western Australia. Added to this, the brewery’s one of my favourite places in the world to chill out, and I’ve had the joy of doing that with a couple of my favourite people in the world (Morgs & Kris!). But the beer’s bloody lovely, and I could drink it all day.
- Coopers Dark Ale: 4.5% roasty ale which turns into delicate aftertaste quite quickly and leaves you wanting another. Sadly, a bit on the tricky side to find in the UK although not impossible. Memorable Dark Ale moment with Richie & Marty: “whaddya reckon – would the empty bottles from a whole carton of Dark Ale stretch the entire length of that gutter up there?”. The only way to find out was to drink the whole lot, and as it happens I can’t recall what the answer was. Or whose house it was.
- Coopers Original Pale Ale: 4.5% top-fermented pale ale in the Burton-on-Trent style, best drunk with the sediment re-suspended in the beer (to give it the familar cloudy appearance). The Cooper Family’s finest is definitely my all time favourite hot weather quaffer, whilst also a nice sipping beer for when you’re sitting around chinwagging. It goes well with most food, and come to think of it I can’t think of a circumstance where I’d turn one down in favour of something else. It’s a little bit fruity – not nearly as much so as it’s stronger cousin Coopers Sparkling Ale – and to me it’s every bit how a beer should taste.
- Timothy Taylor’s Landlord: 4.3% pale ale from Yorkshire. A well-kept pint of this stuff is absolutely bulletproof, and few keep it as fine as young Jeffrey at The Gunmakers. It’s hoppy in all the right places, has a nice aftertaste that doesn’t wear out its welcome, and for me evokes all the right memories of a bottle of Little Creatures. That’s probably the world’s most pointless description of a beer ever, but I means it.
- Cairngorm Tradewinds: 4.3% Scottish beer which consistently ladles in the awards – I first discovered this during my inaugural Great British Beer Festival trip back in 2005. Another fruity/citrusy brew, but also with a bit of Elderflower in there as well. The sort of beer which when you encounter it on tap you feel like you could easily drink all night, but typically only find at beer festivals, where the goal is to try as many different beers as possible.
- St Austell’s Tribute: the 4.2% Cornish Supreme Champion is another fruity/zesty drop (can anyone see a pattern forming here ?), but is very well balanced and retains malty, biscuity flavours before drying out into the aftertaste.
- Franziskaner Hefeweizen: 5% Munich stunner. The first weizenbier I ever tried, courtesy of German Beer Month at the Kent Town Hotel in 199something. The selection process was me pointing at the bottle with the little picture of the monk-dude on the front, and sampling the amazing clovey sweet flavour, which I could never track down afterwards because I didn’t know what the words on the front were or what type of beer it was (other than “German”). Then, by happy coincidence, years later in a pub up the road from me I was queued up deliberating over what tipple to imbibe, and I SAW THE MONK RIGHT THERE ON THE TAP! So it was a happy reunion. Apparently the Pope likes it too.
- Brew Dog Paradox: 10% Imperial Stout, aged in whisky barrels. The stout’s a rich, smooth, toasty bit of liquid velvet, and the flavour is noticeably but not distractingly tempered by whatever the whisky is that’s been used. I’ve tried the first batch (Islay, in the old-style packaging) and then the subsequent Speyside… have now lost track of where they’re up to. The peatiness of the Islay barrel was definitely present, although not as in-your-face as a rauchbier or as any of the Islay beers made using peated barley (which border on undrinkable).
- Schneider Weisse Aventinus: 8.2% doppelbock; a nice intruguing dark dessert-in-a-bottle, which combines nice elements of wheat beer with chocolatey, fruity, raisiny, caramelly notes and packs a misleading wallop, as HC and I have found out every time we’ve snapped up one of these.
- Crown Lager: I kid! I kid!
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: another top fermented pale ale, this time 5.6%. Surprise, surprise – citrussy, hoppy, fruity & floral flavours, again reminiscent to my palate of Little Creatures. Must do a side-by-side of these some time. Quite commonplace in London pubs, bars & restaurants, although can be disproportionately pricey. Liz & I were drinking these at The Sloaney Pony for my birthday, and I think they weighed in at about £5.60 a pint.
Again, I feel like I’ve somehow missed something. Oh well.