In a break with the Traditional Golden Pints, Im going to run down my Top 15 beers of the Year and then look at what i says about me.
In Date Order.
Hawkshead Imperial Stout (Oak Aged)
Well this one just sneaked into the list as it was the tail end of 2013(but after any 2103 writings so would be unfair to exclude) Hawkshead would certainly make my top 5 UK breweries mostly for the consistent quality and depth of there core range. But this one falls firmly into my Oh i love it category. Its Big (8.3%) Black, and on Cask. What more could a boy want.
DuClaw Divine Retribution No. 2
A bottle i sadly have no recollection of, and this is the main reason i started using ratebeer, to keep track of what i thought of beer (and again the main reason i do not rate to style as im interested in what I like best) but again from my notes i can see why i liked this, it was a fruity big stout.
Arizona Wilderness American Presidential Stout
Unlike the DeClaw this one has left a clear impression. It was the best of the Copenhagen beer Celebration, and again a Big Black beer. The biggest disappointment of the festival was by the time i tried to get more they had nothing left.
Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb!
Another one from CBC and another Big Black stout, we very quickly see an unexpected pattern forming. This was one of a set with a special Chocolate edition available at the festival, and though the chocolate one was nice it was a clear winner for the Core beer, This is the First of the Beers i was lucky enough to revisit and it just seemed even better when i had it in bottle a few months later
Lervig Once You Go Black
Another CBC and the biggest surprise of the festival. While ive had several good beers from Lervig i just never expected to be as blown away as i was by this one, This was my 2nd choice of CBC and it was just a hairsbreadth away from the Presidential, and no surprises for spotting yet another big black beer.
Magic Rock Bearded Lady Pedro Ximénez BA
and Finally another CBC beer this time returning home to the UK with Magic rocks Bearded Lady. Now ive always been partial to a Bearded lady of two, and im a big fan of Pedro Ximenez so it was of no surprise that i liked this one as much as i did, it being my 3rd pick of CBC
And it turned out i couldn't escape Copenhagen without picking up another top beer. Bringing the total for 1 weekend to a third of my top 15. This was a random find in one of CPHs many bars (Fermentoren) and a beer that was so good, that we returned to have another before heading for our plane and as such came within a hairs breadth of missing my plane. The only time i've nearly missed a flight. But it was well worth it.
Buxton Double Axe
And at last a beer that isnt Black, however it is Big and its probably my favourite Double IPA ever. I had this first on Keg, and it was great but not stunning, but as well as making a great IPA it showed signs of actually aging into a great barley wine so when i went to buy some bottle i made sure to pick up a few extras for deliberate aging. But then a spanner in the works, The beer was even better in bottle that it had been on keg. With the side effect that i drunk most of them, leaving me less aging than intended.
Siren / De Molen Empress Stout
Back to big and Black and my favourite of the Rainbow series, well not at first, again we have an improvment on revisit. At first i had on keg along side all the other rainbow series, but at IMBC it was available on Cask and for me and my personal preferences it was substantially lifted(it also didnt hurt that it was the best value beer of the year being only £3 a pint)
Siren / Evil Twin Bourbon Barrel Even More Jesus Coffee
Even More Jesus always scores well from me, but this was my favorite so far, i do like coffee in my beer, but am often not a fan of bourbon aging, but Ryan really seems to have a knack for these things and this beer just hit all the right amounts of everything for me.
De Molen Fruit IPA Mango Habanero
And onto the another non Stout , this was an interesting one as it was a blend of two beers available at the De Molen Festival available both individually and as the blend and this one was a clear example of the sum being greater than its constituent part, both were decent enough. But the Spice was tempered by the sweetness of the mango in the blend making this the beer of the festival for me.
New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
Were heading towards closing down one of my tastings, whe from a bag this is pulled out. Instantly everyone sits up as the Raspberry tary and Cherry Red from New Glarus are cracking beers, this one didnt sound quite as interesting to me, but boy was a wrong. Its a real shame i had to share this with others, but as it wasnt my bottle in the first place im just glad i got to try it.
Buxton Berry Sake Bastard
Buxon have really been producing a lot of new beers this year and so many of them are shining, and this is one of the brightest, i wasnt a massive fan of the original version of this but the barrell aged version , the big fruit and a light funky back bone just tingled my tastebuds in all the right places
Magic Rock Dark Arts Barrel Aged With Raspberries
and so we return to the darks all be it the not quite so big darks, with a Barrel and raspberry aged Dark arts, Ive always been partial to raspberries so im always interested to find a good beer thats been raspberried up and this one hit the mark, its got all the characteristics of the original, but with a massive raspberry hit. Whats not to like.
Highland Barrel Aged Orkney Porter (Isle of Arran)
and here we finish off with the last of my top 15, and it nicely bookends the list as when asked for my Favourite UK brewery the first two names out of my mouth are usually Highland and Hawkshead. So its fitting that i start and finish the list with these breweries. Again when asked, i will happily tell anyone who asked that i think the Best Scottish beer in regular production is the standard Orkney Porter, great in Bottle but Even better in cask. So it was with some delight (given how rarely we see the base beer in cask) that i was able to try this in cask which lived up to everything i could have hoped for.
So theres my Top 15 for the year, looking as formats we see
2 Bottle and Cask
2 Bottle and Keg
1 Cask and Keg
From the scoring of those in multiple formats,(and its no surprise) I clearly prefer Cask > Bottle >Keg
Looking at Locations we have
1 CBC and Home
1 CBC and De Molen
2 Hanging Bat
2 Hanging Bat and Home
1 Hanging Bat and IMBC
1 De Molen
From which i can only conclude that it takes the Hanging bat a whole year to replicate CBC (they really should try harder) and that even through hard work and dedication i still get much more good beer out and about than in bottle at home.
and Finally looking at Styles
11 are Stouts in one format or another
2 are Double Ipas
2 are Fruit beers
There really no surprise there anyone that knows me knows that i always have been a stout fan, and i dont see that changing any time soon, but when the right beer comes along i can be tempted from the Dark Side.
and now onto the Standard list