Wye Valley Brewery, was founded in 1985 by brewer Peter Amor and is now run by his son Vernon. The state of the art new brewery, completed in October 2013 is dedicated to brewing cask-conditioned real ale from the finest ingredients.
Wye Valley Brewery, “Butty Bach”, Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire
On a recent trip to East Wales with BeerAnorak founder Jamie to discover the delights of Welsh wine from Ancre Hill, we also chanced upon this benchmark real ale. A refreshing alternative to the bombardment of hop driven craft beers on every corner. Make a list of the characteristics that define the perfect session beer and this ticks all the boxes. Good body, balanced, hints of sweetness, malt notes, very delicate hops (though in no way ‘hoppy’), refreshing with a long finish. A no brainer to order a second of the finest pint I’ve drunk this year. 10/10
Orbit Beers, is a Walworth (South Elephant & Castle) based brewery that loves music as much as beer. They create delicious beers to a soundtrack of classic and contemporary tunes. They especially love the warm, genuine, unfiltered sounds that vinyl records produce and offer the same natural, authentic, unfiltered taste from their beers.
Orbit Beers, Neu Altbier, Walworth, London
Altbier is a style of beer produced exclusively in Dusseldorf and now Walworth. I opened the bottle, poured a glass to contemplate, and what seemed like moments later the beer was gone. I quickly wished I had a second bottle. This is real beer, of depth and complexity. I’d loosely describe it as the finest English ale with carbonation but this is doing it an injustice. It reminds me a little Of Meantime’s London Pale Ale, but with more balls. It is slightly nutty, malty, dry and with no overt hops. Cracking, sophisticated stuff. 9/10
By The Horns Brewing Co., is a Wimbledon based brewery that like many other good London breweries, started with two chaps making homebrew. Clearly a talent for brewing and a desire to succeed has propelled them into a bigger business.
By The Horns Brewing Co., Vive La Brett, Wimbledon, London
My first introduction to BTHBC, by Tim Luther (of Barrica/Copita/Drakes) who was sampling a variety of brews for one of his restaurants and invited me to join. This is the one that struck me as being out of the ordinary in a good way and confirms my suspicions that (a) I’m a sucker for good saison and (b) brewers are getting more experimental with wine barrels. Now I don’t know who the Andy of Burgandy is, plus there’s no hint of brett, but he knows balance when he tastes it. This is a weighty saison, deep gold to amber in colour, with lovely acidity and sour notes complementing a rich balanced ale. A shame to learn that it’s ‘saisonal!/limited run’ as I want more please. 9/10
Cantillon, is a family owned brewery and has been producing beer in much the same way for over 200 years. They are considered to be one of the finest brewers.
Cantillon, Geuze ‘Belgian Flag’, Brussels, Belgium
This beer represents 50% of the production of the Cantillon brewery. Only the label is different (limited edition), with the bottle still containing the famous Geuze from Cantillon. Lambic beer is sour beer which then undergoes spontaneous fermentation in the bottle, similar to sparkling wine, thus creating Geuze. Geuze beer is produced by many brewers but this one is considered one of the best. It is maybe the best beer I’ve (Winerackd) had. It is incredibly complex, being vinous, citrus, mildy sour, with gentle pale ale characters underneath. Very long in the finish and essentially EPIC. 11/10 Read more about the beer HERE on the brewery’s own site.
Two Fingers was created in 2012, when seven guys with expertise in building brands and a passion for craft beer had a vision for a beer that wasn’t just better tasting, but better for men everywhere.
Aurelio, Two Fingers Brewing Co. Farringdon, London (Beer brewed by Hepworth in Horsham)
Jimmy Carr once joked that he was stopped by a chugger asking “Do you have 5 minutes to fight cancer?”, to which he replied “I’m not sure we’ll get much done in that time, let’s pop into Boots to see if they have anything for it.” He could have said, “Let’s buy a bottle of Aurelio.” 10p from every bottle sold goes to Prostate Cancer UK and this fact combined with the contents of Tony Edwards’ book, The Good News About Booze which reveals the latest medical evidence that alcohol is good for you in moderation means that there are at least three reasons to buy this beer. The third reason is that it tastes good, in a quality complex balanced lager tasting way. 9/10 if you like lager, 10/10 for effort and philanthropy.
Bullfinch, is based in London micro beer central and certainly pulls no punches. They produce crafty beers with a global kick and a hoppy punch to your ale hole. So they claim.
Citrageddon, Bullfinch Brewery, Bermondsey, London
I imagine this is what it is like to have a cannonball shot into your mouth. It’s dark, weighty, intense, quite hoppy sweet and very complex. The first mouthful elicits a sense of shock and awe followed by the desire for second mouthful to see if the first was a fluke. Is it a session beer, absolutely not. Is it impressive, yes. Do I want to drink it again? I don’t know. I need to drink it again to find out if I want to drink it again. 1 or 9/10
Malteni Beer, is based in Northern France very close to the brewery in Belgium. It was started by 2 cycling enthusiasts with branding for cycling fans. The beer is organic and gluten free.
Amber Beer, Malteni Brewery, Brunehaut, France
Pours with a huge amount of foam, very carbonated. This is an agreeable malty amber ale, without any serious complexity of flavour or a memorable finish, but good to drink nonetheless. Certainly head and shoulders above any mass produced French lager for example. 6.0/10
London Fields Brewery,was born in August 2011, based in the centre of Hackney, under railway arches next to the oasis of greenery within the smoke that is London Fields itself. Now a part of a growing number of fine breweries in Hackney they help put Hackney on the map as a destination for great beer.
Double IPA, London Fields Brewery, Hackney, London
Limited edition. Quite simply a lovely, balanced, relatively complex yet elegant, not overly hopped pale ale with hidden strength. It doesn’t have the rich mouth feel of other Doubles, a benefit meaning you won’t tire of it. The combination of amarillo, chinook and simcoe hops shine through the top notes of peach, pine, and spice. Nice. 8.1/10
Tomos Watkin strives to be an iconic Welsh brand. They brew beer with the Welsh drinkers palette in mind, slightly sweet, clean finishing without going overboard on bitterness.
Cwrw Hâf, Tomos Watkin
Another exercise proving that context is vital to enjoyment. Let’s be clear, this is a great session ale. But my first sip was shortly following a 2.5hr drive with the wife and kids from London to near Newport to spend a weekend with the in-laws in a lovely hotel. I was gasping and this went down like nectar from the gods. It’s a lovely lager gold colour, using a blend of golding, fuggle and cascade hops giving this beer a wonderfully refreshing zesty, citrus taste and a light summer beer aroma. Great balance of weight and flavour with a very enjoyable slightly sweet pale ale finish. 8.1/10
Time and Tide Brewing has a mission to create great beers, to challenge customers with new ideas and flavours and to change people’s minds about how beer should be drunk.
Calista IPA, Time and Tide Brewing, Deal, Kent
In a seaside town about as far East in England as you can go before the word bonjour is heard more frequently, Sam & Paul know what they are doing. This beer is one of a small but quality range, where the base beer remains constant but the hops change, demonstrating again that you don’t have to have full in the face hops to make great beer. Hops here are very much the support act reinforcing the complexity of really good lightly carbonated light brown ale. Winner. 8.5/10