2018 in Review
This is all entirely subjective, there's been loads of great beer this year and we will have missed off many from this list, but here are some of our favourites.
Burnt Mill x Fieldwork Dank Mode. This DIPA was super dank and hopped with Enigma and Mosaic. This was the first special Burnt Mill released in 2018 and started off a great run of brilliant specials and collabs in the year. This is one that we would happily see them brew again though.
Affinity 2woomba. This beer was brewed to celebrate Affinity’s second birthday - an imperial version of their excellent Toowoomba (a lamington cake-inspired stout). Rich with coconut and raspberries this Imperial Stout also handily came in a 250ml can (instead of Affinity’s regular 500ml, and smaller than the standard 330ml can), making this delicious beer approachable despite a higher ABV.
DEYA Steady Rolling Man. Wish we could have this in the shop more often. This hoppy pale ale is consistently excellent and a real go-to pint whenever we see it on tap around London.
Cloudwater's Small range has been excellent this year. The Pale Ales are great and just full of so much flavour at a sessionable ABV. The Small IPL Citra Mosaic really stood out for us and was a real summer favourite.
Magic Rock Dancing Bier (PKA Dancing Bear). This is our go-to lager, a classic German style called Dancing Bier because it dances on the palate! It is very refreshing and with a real depth that makes you want one after the other.
Burning Sky Cuvée. YUM. It’s a real tough call choosing a favourite Burning Sky beer but Cuvée, a blend of their Saison a la Provision and Lambic imported from Belgium, just about wins for us. A dry and complex sour beer that can be drunk now or aged for a year or two (and currently we've got both 2018 and 2017 vintages in stock!).
Jester King Spon. An incredible beer that we never expected to ever get stock of to sell. A spontaneous beer produced in the Lambic method but in Texas! Amazing complexity and drinkability.
Firestone Walker Krieky Bones /Feral Vinifera. So happy with both of these beers and couldn’t decide which to choose so we're cheating. Krieky Bones is a Flanders red that is aged for a year in oak with sour cherries added. Feral Vinifera is co-fermented wort and pressed grape juice that’s been barrel-aged. Three different varieties are then blended together as a Cuvée. The result is a tart beer where the fruit exists but doesn’t dominate.
Tilquin Pinot Gris. This sold out so quickly for us this year along with most Tilquin we have (although we've still got some Gueuze and Kriek instore). This Lambic has been fermented with 280g of Pinot Gris grapes per litre of Lambic. We were able to try a bottle in Brussels and it was brilliant, a beautiful complexity of wood, grapes and funk.
The Kernel Export Stout Raspberry. A blend of The Kernel’s export stouts then aged for six weeks with 100g of Raspberries per litre of stout. Dark and fruity, enjoy this in the bath like Steph.
Three breweries stand out for us with branding at the moment:
Rich Norgate’s rebranding/updating of Magic Rock is going really well. The big lad cans always stand out, and the likes of Dancing Bier and Highwire Grapefruit are ace too.
We have a lot of love for Josh Smith’s Burnt Mill can designs, they work together but stand out so well on their own. We now have a print of Tulum, a beer that Josh actually came up with himself, that we need to frame and put up on the wall (hopefully it gets another rebrew this summer too!).
Duration have been working with their resident artist Henry Mueller as well as graphic designer Joe Conway on their cans, but although they worked on different cans they have come up with a very cohesive look for all of them, which look as amazing in person as in fancy GIFs on social media.
Two new breweries have stood out for us this year:
Reading's Double Barrelled has been a few years in the making and we managed to get some of their first brews in towards the end of 2018. Luci and Mike have well-researched their brewery; check out their blog when they travelled the world looking for inspiration.
Somerset's Yonder (started by two ex Wild Beer Co Employees) is such an exciting brewery that has burst onto the scene (or rather quietly appeared) this year. They make farmhouse beers in Somerset, with an emphasis on foraging and using local, seasonal produce in their beers to make some of the most interesting sours we’ve had.
We could have listed so many more breweries but stopped with these five.
Northern Monk - mastering core beers like Faith whilst pushing boundaries with their Patrons Project.
Burning Sky - celebrated their fifth year with their first spontaneous beer. We celebrated New Years with a bottle of it, and I hope it is an omen for the year to come.
Verdant - Cornwall’s DIPA machine produced loads of great beer in 2018 and there will be even more when they move into their new brewery this year.
The Kernel - the understated classic that continues to impress. Drink more table beer.
Magic Rock - an incredible variety of a core range whilst also producing barrel-aged barleywines for the masses.
We've been lucky to drink lots of great beers at a variety of festivals and whilst abroad ourselves. Highlights include visiting the likes of The Answer and Other Half or sampling bottles of Side Project & Jester King. When in NY we managed to find plenty of Suarez Family on tap and found them all magnificent. However this is also the year we've been able to consistently stock Firestone Walker in the shop. Not just the amazing Barrel Works wild ales and Imperial Stouts but also Pivo Pils!
Magic Rock - a firm favourite and worth the detour when in Leeds or Manchester. Always an excellent variety on tap, great staff and a good selection of food traders. Keep an eye out for some of their food & drink festivals.
Grimm - unlike most taprooms, this is comfortable space with plants and soft furnishings, plus some of the best beer going in New York, beautiful fruited sours along with killer IPAs and stouts.
Double Barrelled - a great asset for the Reading beer scene, this taproom is both cavernous and comfortable. You can easily take a look at the brewhouse and coldstore, and also have a game of darts. The proprietary beer and guest beer list is damn good too.
The Answer - this brewpub in Richmond, Virginia is ridiculous, 50+ taps of their own beer plus a killer guest lineup. These guys make some of the best fruited sours & adjunct stouts around. Also it’s a Vietnamese restaurant and the food is just damn incredible (bacon fried rice!). Just relooking at this menu makes us want to go back.
The Hop Locker Under The Bridge - we spent pretty much every Monday at the summer incarnation of The Hop Locker. Not a better way to spend a sunny day off than with a pint of Keller Pils in one hand and a Bleeker burger in the other.
The Southampton Arms - we’ve loved this local establishment for many years now, but since the refurb, we’ve been using our credit card to drink pints of DEYA & Cloudwater with gusto.
The Axe - one of our New Year’s resolutions is to make it out to The Axe more often. One of the best beer lists in the city in a great modern pub environment.
The Marble Arch - the tap for the excellent Marble Brewery. Pints of Earl Grey IPA all round. However we must talk about the food, you could just feed yourself with some ace chips and gravy, but the main menu is top quality. Also note that they are offering 50% off food before 6:30pm this January!
Caps and Taps - it may shock you but we enjoy drinking in our own site as well. We’ve plans to shake it up this year (such as replacing the one large table with several smaller ones). Our fridges have over 200 different beers so there is always something for everyone.