Ridiculous thing to do: Choosing one favourite beer from the whole year? Beer is situational, of the moment, subjective, art. Which is the `best art`?! Plain daft, eh.?! We have tried though.....
Three up and two are pretty local.
Of the weird and wonderful, I opted for Northern Alchemy`s Marmalade and Assam Tea IPA. This was strong and expensive and, bearing those two facts in mind, I could only manage a half of it at the ever-improving Beer Engine after a memorable match at Bramall Lane. (It was either have another half and walk home or have enough cash for bus fare. Close call but it was a Tuesday).
The complexity in this beer had my palate doing somersaults and these guys really do make `Flavour Led Crafty Beer`. Orange aromas and initial marmalade hit lead to a floral tea aftertaste. I don`t care for marmalade nor assam tea particularly but this Newcastle brewery managed to get the bitter-sweet properties to hit all the right notes that you want from a strong IPA (7.4%). Not yet had this in bottle but I shall track it down. Keg of the year perhaps. If Michelin did do stars for beer......
One we both heartily agreed on was Fruit Machine by Steel City in cahoots with Beer Central`s Sean Clarke. Danny supped most of this whilst it was (briefly) on at Shakespeares and we`ve both had plenty in bottles. Hazy orange amber, massive citrus aroma, super-fruity mouth with a long-lasting aftertaste, the fresher the better. Thick and pulpy tasting nothing like 7%. One of Steel City`s very best.
Last but not least, maybe best `til last. I met North Riding`s Red Citra at the CAMRA Steel City Beer Festival betwixt judging sessions and it was stand-out even then. (Ultimately it was SCBF second overall too).
Further quality control took place at the lovely Three Tuns on Silver Street where it tasted fantastic and also at the Broadfield a day or two later. Since it appeared in bottles, we`ve both really enjoyed it. Many purchased and several given away to nice people. This is better than the pale version as the grapefruit, mango and lemon punch is still there in droves but with a beautiful red body. Balanced superbly and mega-drinkable at 5%. Right up our street.
A trio of superb beers. Hats off and here`s to more from these brilliant breweries in 2016. Cheers!