We threatened our staff to name just two drinks from this year as their favourites, and then made them write a couple of sentences explaining their decisions. Enjoy!
St Mars of The Desert & DEYA – Koelsch
A collaboration between two of my favourite UK breweries, brewing one of my favourite beer styles – this Kolsch is one of my beers of the year. A tribute to the style made famous in Cologne with a koelschip hop twist you’d expect from these fellas, this is a proper summer beer that simply has to be made again.
Burning Sky – Indecision Time (Nelson Sauvin)
Anyone who knows me and can be bothered to listen to me talk about beer knows I love a single-hopped beer. They really give you a chance to work out why/if you like a hop and this beer itself cemented my love for Nelson Sauvin. This kiwi hop gives you big flavours of Sauvignon Blanc grape and gooseberry – what’s not to love? The only problem is it literally flew out of the shop in a couple of days – should’ve kept this one a secret.
Donzoko - Big Foam
The master of all lagers, the biggest foam. The rustic aspect really appeals to me, the darker appearance, the sweet yet citrus paired with a bready undertone really makes this complex lager the winner.
Boxcar - Double Dark Mild.
The best release this year from ANY brewery, in my opinion. Not overpowering for the percentage, the perfect blend of roasty, chocolate, light smoke & smooth silky taste. Matched with the great body make this super drinkable.
Cascade Brewing - Valley Flora BA Grape Sour
I’ve already written about Cascade’s Garden Party as one of my beers of the week, but I’ve chosen Valley Flora as my beer of the year because nothing beats a sour red ale for me, especially one co-fermented with grapes. Cascade are based in Portland, Oregon, and they pioneered the northwest sour ale style of clean but complex barrel aged sours. Many of them are inspired by the region’s wines, and this goes one step further with the addition of local Willamette Valley pinot noir grapes giving dark forest fruit and earthy flavours with added complexity and texture from the tannins.
Fuchs & Hase - Pet Nat Rosé
Their Gruner Veltliner was probably my most enthusiastically recommended) wine at the shop, but I had absolutely no idea Martin & Anna Arndorfer had anything to do with my favourite wine of the year until it came to writing this. A collaboration project with their neighbours Alwin & Stefanie Jurtschitsch, this is the wine to give anyone who claims they don’t like rosé (as well as those who do). It’s fruity and fizzy but in a soft, sherbetty way without any gassiness, and totally dry. After an initial hit of raspberry, it’s a little bit savoury and herby—complex but light, fresh, and juicy, it was the perfect summer wine.
Double-Barrelled - In My Neighbourhood NEIPA
Not only because it was a collaboration for the inaugural Indie Beer Shop Day. This New England IPA was bursting with stone fruit flavours. I sometimes feel like Double-Barrelled doesn't get the recognition it deserves as a brewery, but the balance of sweet and bitter and booze in this beer gives any hype US IPA a run for their money.
Kaiserdom - Pink Grapefruit Weissbier
If you've been in the shop recently, you might have noticed that I am once again off the sauce. A difficult feat when surrounded by all these tasty beverages, but made all the easier by the range of non-alcoholic beers that are now available. And one that's new to us this year is the Kaiserdom Pink Grapefruit Weissbier. I absolutely love this one. I think grapefruit goes so well with beer. Super light, super refreshing, but although fruity, it's a more substantial drink than a soft.
Brasserie Dupont - Saison Dupont (750ml)
It's great in a 330ml, but Dupont in a 750ml is masterclass. Share it with friends, a perfect accompaniment to a meal (seriously, it pairs with almost everything). Or a treat for yourself, 750ml is just two two thirds. This is a classic/godfather/ultimate saison because it's dynamic and yet so mellow and accessible. There is plenty of flavour that you can easily concentrate and enjoy the beer, or you can let it take the backseat to your meal or conversation. I feel like a bottle of this should always be in your fridge.
Duckchicken - Giggle Juice (440ml)
We've been enjoying ciders from Duckchicken for a while now, but this move from 750ml bottles to 440ml cans is a game changer. This cider is now incredibly accessible to even more drinkers. It's dry, full of flavour and a firm favourite in our house.