Although titled a review of the year, this is not strictly just about this year, but about the best places I’ve visited and beers I’ve tried in the last 12 months.
I’ll start with the beers that have most impressed me this year, this can be split down into bottled and pumped beers. When considering bottled beers a handful have revisited my fridge over the last 12 months, all of these are available from Tesco or Asda at between £1.40 and £1.90 a bottle. The first may not surprise you if you are a regular reader, Brew Dog IPA from Aberdeen, a stronger beer than my normal taste at 6% ABV. A small bottle, but packed with hoppy taste. My next choice is Thwaites Wainwright (3.9% ABV), a slightly sweet golden ale. which has been regularly drank since its discovery in summer. My next 2 choices come from across the pond, the first is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6% ABV), with a taste which balances the bitter hops and sweet malt perfectly. The second is Anchor Steam (4.9% ABV) by the brewery of the same name, a light clear beer, with a hoppy afternote to a sweet malty main course, like the previous 3 beers can be supped as well as quaffed with equal pleasure.
Moving to the on-trade beers, I’ve tried a lot of beers this year on your behalf and there have been a lot of very good ones. The beers that stick out in the mind from the past year are Moorhouse Blonde Witch, Abbeydale Moonshine, Ossett Pale Gold, Halifax Steam Gingivitis and Daleside Blonde. When it comes to my pumped beers, I’m very much in the pale beer camp.
It appears the opinions are split on Blonde Witch (4.5%) from the Pendle area, despite its awards. Nice flavour with good taste of hops and malt coming through, some say its slightly flat and not possessing the most memorable aftertaste, I disagree. Next up, we consider the Moonshine harking from Sheffield (4.3% ABV), where a straw coloured beer proffers citrus flavours, with a light taste leading to a dry finish. A very drinkable beer which has passed my lips many times this year. Next up is a very new addition to this list, Pale Gold (3.8% ABV) from Ossett. A floral beer, again with citrus undertones, leading to a spicy bitter finish, leaving a nice aftertaste. It tastes a lot more than its stated ABV. Gingivitus from Hipperholme (3.8% ABV) is the best beer on this list, but is subject to personal taste as it is very gingery in taste. Its a bit of a marmite of a beer in that sense, taste is dry with a a good hint of ginger, which ramps up to slightly stronger finish. I could drink this all day, as could my dad, I’d recommend a half first to see if it is your taste. The last beer on my list is also a new addition to my list, Daleside Blonde (3.9%) which is a CAMRA Yorkshire Silver Award winner, again in the citrus camp (spot the pattern here), with a more delicate aftertaste that other beers on the list, but no worse for that.
Finally my pubs of the year, The Ship Inn at Brighouse has been consistently good this year with their beers both regular and guest. They have probably introduced me to more new beers this year than any other pub. The next pub is the Red Rooster just up the road, a “proper pub”, again with a cracking selection of ales and good atmosphere, as well as a well stocked library if you are solo drinking. Moving away from this area, the Travellers Inn at Hipperholme has impressed with its selection of Ossett beers in a traditional setting. This list would not be complete without a reference to the Works in Sowerby Bridge, with the biggest selection of ales on tap I have come across locally and friendly welcome. An honourable mention goes to the Ring O Bells in Halifax for up and coming new pubs. The new team there have made a strong start regarding atmosphere and ale selection.
Thanks for reading for the last 15 weeks, and hope you all have a great christmas and new year.