Rather than round up my favourite beers of 2016, I thought I’d point you towards some of the breweries whose efforts I’ll be enjoying this New Year’s Eve, and some brilliant places to buy their beers. To help me out, six aficionados from some of London’s finest beer emporiums (including two exciting recent openings) have lent me their words and expertise. Their doors may not all be open for business on December 31st (Joel doesn’t even have a door), but there’s always next year…
Burning Sky, East Sussex | Words by Jen from Hop Burns & Black in Peckham
New Year’s Eve is all about decadence and celebration, and the godlike genius that is Mark Tranter and his team at Burning Sky have thoughtfully provided exactly the beers you need. There’s nothing more indulgent than their new Imperial Stout, which has been ageing in oak vats waiting for just such a special occasion to ooze forth its ridiculous richness. And Cuvée 2016 is simply one of the finest beers on the planet. Perfect for kicking 2016 to the kerb in style.
Cloudwater Brew Co, Manchester | Words by Sean from The Bottle Shop in Bermondsey
The latest incarnation in the Cloudwater Double IPA series (we’re up to version 10) is another triumph. It’s tropical and juicy, and it jumps out of the glass. The only issue used to be not knowing when you’d be able to get your hands on the next batch, so the promise of a new DIPA release almost every month was welcome news to me (and beer geeks all over!). Put these in a tasting up against your favourite East Coast New England brews and they really stand up. World class double IPAs, brewed fresh in the UK? Yes please!
Lost & Grounded Brewers, Bristol | Words by Alex from Ghost Whale in Brixton
Considering Lost and Grounded only formally opened its doors for business in the summer of 2016, this is a brewery taking great, ambitious strides from the word go. We’ve been lucky enough to stock their Hop Hand Fallacy (a saison/farmhouse ale) and Keller Pils (take a guess!) in our newly opened shop, and they’ve been going down a storm. The synergy between the amazing ‘outdoorsy’ artwork used on their labels and the bright, crisp, refreshing flavours in their beer is top-notch. Come and pick some up from our bottle shop and taproom on Atlantic Road!
Beerbliotek, Gothenburg | Words by Oli from Kill The Cat on Brick Lane
I’ve been massively impressed by Beerbliotek this year. A broad-sweeping range has showcased the Gothenburg brewery’s ability to consistently produce high quality beers without getting lost in a maelstrom of repetition; from Berliner Weisse, to their single hop Pales, and their higher strength DIPAs and BA Imperial Stout, the beers on can and keg have tasted as fresh as the day I imagine they were packaged. Two favourites stand out amongst a very strong crowd: Passionfruit of the Loins, a beautiful, punchy fruitbomb of a DIPA, and the delicately tart and very well balanced Whoop Ass, which we recently had on keg rather than can – even more of a treat for your tastebuds! All in all, it’s a brewery to watch for the coming year, with only good things to build upon from 2016. Grab some if you see it!
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey | Words by Ben from We Brought Beer in Battersea
Though they are better known for their pale hop-forward beers, The Kernel’s barrel-aged programme is equally deserving of attention. Concentrating on balanced Saisons and fruited variants of their London Sour, these beers are the perfect example of how time and patience when dealing with wild yeasts and cultures can produce marvellously enjoyable and complex beers. If you’re looking to usher in the New Year with something special, but don’t want your tastebuds to be blown off by IIPAs, or your night cut short by Imperial Stouts, these Kernel beers are the way to go!
Verdant Brewing Co, Falmouth | Words by Joel from The Hop Locker in Waterloo
Verdant have made a heck of an impact in 2016, and if they carry on the way they are going, they’ll have an exceptionally strong 2017. The Cornwall-based brewery was started by three friends who wanted to drink more of the hop forward beers that they loved, but couldn’t find in their local pubs. The 6.5% Bloom IPA is a great place to start, but I would end the year with the delicious Pulp, an equally juicy and bitter 8% Double IPA. I’m excited to see what these guys come up with next year – rest assured, it’ll be great!
Kill The Cat – www.killthecat.co.uk
The Bottle Shop – www.bottleshop.co.uk
Ghost Whale – www.ghostwhalelondon.com
We Brought Beer – www.webroughtbeer.co.uk
The Hop Locker – twitter.com/TheHopLocker
Hop Burns & Black – www.hopburnsblack.co.uk