This year, we’ve been all over the place, including almost a full month in Germany, so we’ve had plenty of opportunity to stretch our palates (corrective surgery scheduled for the New Year). After some bickering in the pub, and in no particular order, here are the 10 beers we’ve tried and enjoyed the most in 2008.
- Uerige Alt — like a British ale, but not, thanks to some subtle, intangible quality of the yeast and the wonderful, alien manners and customs of the Duesseldorf pub scene.
- Oakham Hawse Buckler — dark, strong, heavy, hoppy as Hell, with that combination of chocolate orange/coffee and grapefruit people either love or hate.
- Zywiec Porter — was this sticky, treacly Baltic porter as good as we thought, or were we just delighted to finally get our hands on it after a couple of years hunting?
- Brewdog Punk IPA — smart marketing means we’ll be seeing this being swigged from the bottle by trendy types all over the country by next Christmas. And a good thing too, as it’s full of flavour and full of life.
- SternBrau-Scheubel dunkel-rauch — the highlight of the first Zeitgeist beer festival, organised by Stonch and Biermania, was this smoky, amber wonder which was so good, we drank them dry.
- Mahrs Brau Ungespundete — our return trip to Bamberg was a bit of ticking session but this is one beer of which we wanted second-helpings: dark, cloudy, spicy and liquorice-like.
- Vollbier, Brauerei Meister, Unterszaunsbach — this dark, ale-like dark German beer tasted great, although that might have been something to do with the fact we’d trekked over most of Franconia to get to it, and because the lady in the pub was nice to us…
- U Fleku, Prague — treacly sweet and fruity sour, the black beer here is a wonder; shame the pub’s such a world-class hole.
- Kout na Sumave desitka, Prague — we’d never have found this one ourselves — Velky Al recently described is as the best lager in the Czech republic. Haven’t had enough Czech beers to compare (can one ever?) but this was a beautiful easy-drinker with an impressive hop flavour.
- Frueh Koelsch (but not out of a bottle) — we weren’t that impressed when we first tried Frueh at the brewery tap in Cologne, but have now been back twice — it’s so subtle and so perfect that it’s become our favourite whenever we’re passing through Cologne.
Velky Al has been rounding up his beers of the year, which is where we nicked the idea what inspired us.