Hello and welcome to January where the madness of Christmas and New Year’s is well and truly over but for a lot of you the madness of trying to get a train to work just continues. This is a quieter time of year for us but rest assured there will still be plenty of new beers on the shelves and on the taps, more of which below.
If the train strike, short days and long nights plus less than tropical temperatures are getting you down forget Dry January and pick up a bottle of something new in the spirit of Try January. While I wouldn’t question anyone giving up or cutting back on alcohol I do sometimes wonder about the whole Dry January concept. Sure have a rest from the booze if you feel like you need it but how about just practising moderation all year? One of our customers pointed out that if you don’t drink three nights a week then that is 156 dry days or well over a third of the year and on the nights you do drink? Make it about quality not quantity!
Over the Christmas break it is safe to say I took a break from moderation and drunk a quantity of quality. While it was all good the biggest thing I took away from it was just how fantastic the classic beers are. It is all too easy to overlook the likes of Schneider or Augustiner say when there is always the latest and greatest thing to try. There is a reason though that these breweries have been around for as long as they have, because they brew damn fine beer. Schneider Weisse on Christmas morning was a revelation. It had been a good four months or so since I had it and the complexity of it just blew me away. Sure it could be quaffed and thoroughly enjoyed as a refresher but take a little time and see how the flavours unfold in a real ode to the brewers art. Ok so I might be getting a bit carried away here but I guess I just want to get the point across that just because these beers have been around for such a long time doesn’t make them any less worthy of our attention than the latest DIPA from Cloudwater or new release from Beavertown.
Apart from drinking new and classic beers over Christmas I also had time to reflect on the year that was and some of the great beers I drunk (and can remember).
Thornbridge Lukas: The best lager produced in the UK that I have tried so far and a beer I returned to constantly. Balanced, crisp, clean and more refreshing then you can imagine this is a great beer from one of the leaders of the craft pack in Britain.
Moor Revival: A beer I have talked about more than once on these pages and it wouldn’t be a roundup of the year without a mention of it. Citrus and pine balance each other with just enough bitterness to encourage another sip. My session beer of choice and the first beer I had as midnight struck on New Year’s Eve.
Buxton/Omnipollo Yellow Belly: I was wary of the hype around this beer, was it going to be all marketing and no substance but from the moment I opened the bottle and was enveloped by that nutty, rich aroma I knew this was going to be a good one. The taste of it didn’t disappoint either. Amazing!
Hawkshead Iti: We had it in the shop on cask and it was good then, right at the end of the year we got some cans and it just went to the next level. With a real bitter bite and a hint of peachy goodness this beer really hits the spot.
Trying to pick a favourite cask beer it is bit more of a struggle but a couple that stick in my mind are You Bet from Blackjack which thanks to its pronounced bitterness and earthy hop notes had me thinking about it long after my pint glass was empty. Cloudwater Bitter was fantastically balanced and had that supreme drinkability which I love in cask ale. If I had to pick one brewery though it would be Surrey Hills with their ever consistent beers. Some people might find them too bitter but give me a pint of Shere Drop or Greensand IPA and I am very happy indeed.
Talking about Cask beer brings me to what draught we have coming this month. We will have the new Hophead from Dark Star, this one featuring the ever popular zesty and distinct notes of the Mosaic hop. We have doubled up on this one as we know how much you all love Hophead. There will be some Pride on, no not that Pride but Pride from the Saltaire Brewery. Sadly though we will be having our last Cloudwater Casks this month after they announced that they are ceasing production of cask beer. While I can understand the reasoning behind their decision it is sad to see them stop as they made some cracking cask ale. So make the most of it while you can, we will be tapping their Red Ale and Pale Ale this month.
Bottles and Cans
A few beers didn’t make it onto the shelves in time for Christmas but that just means we get to enjoy them now. Specially transported by one of our customer’s Father in law are three different beers from Three Kings in North Shields. Hoppy and balanced these are a once a year treat for us plus they have some of the most inventive packaging we have seen. Redwillow are weighing in with Perceptionless, their take on a New England IPA, one of the trending styles of the craft beer world. Lastly look out for Bob, the latest beer from the Oxted Brewery.
Enjoy the rest of the month!