The Beer Boutique

Welcome friends, to the second half of the year. No doubt beer has proved a friendly respite from the terrors of the outside world, and together we shall keep the wheels of civilization well-oiled, in the assurance that nobody is actually going to be building a wall any time soon.

In the spirit of celebration then, the time has come to take note of some of the great Beers of the Year. The Beer Boutique staff have been given the opportunity to bestow three awards each; the first for their individual greatest beer of the year so far; the second for an award category of their own choosing; and a final opportunity to give any honourable mentions. So without further a brew, I present our champions of 2016 (so far).
 
Jonathan Kaye - Judge, Jury, Executioner, and Owner

1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
2016 has been the year of the Big DIPA. Fortunes have gone up and some, come screaming down with arms in the air and big smiles all round. There have been many great beers in this category. Though I wasn't initially persuaded. Too bitter for me (even Cannonball can punch a bitter fist to the back of my throat). And too strong. They just get me drunk too fast. And then I can't speak. Or serve customers. Or do anything. But I forced myself to like them. And I fell in love. Not with Bloody Notorious. Not with Cloudwater v3 (though it was awesome). But with BBNo 55 | 01. So well balanced. So fruity. The alcohol hiding behind the bike sheds to surprise you. The perfect beer. My winner by a mile.

2. Award for ... Session Ales
Whether it's an easy drinking pale or that oxymoron that is the Session IPA, I've drunk more beers in this category than anything else this year. Perhaps influenced by the Mediterranean sun, but these are my go to beers at the moment. Neck Oil has been leading the charge for a while as has Table Beer. Both great. But been around so long that I don't usually think to grab one. I love the BBNo Session IPAs, Tempest Armadillo is a winner too. But my favourite of the year is Siren Vermont Tea Party. Maybe it's the Vermont yeast that I love (also used in Cloudwater v3) or the citrus twist that makes it so refreshing but I just can't get enough of it 

3. Honourable mentions
Wild Beer POGO is the perfect summer beer. So drinkable. 4.1%. SO FRUITY. I am drinking it like water at the moment. Mixed reviews but I really liked BrewDog Hop Fiction too. Tempest Mexicake was amazing. And the Kitchen Beer golden sour beer was truly world class - if only it could be repeated...
 
Cecilia Berghall - Contemporary store manager

1. Award for ... Beer of the Year

Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons purely for my sheer surprise loving this beer. To be perfectly honest I was never the biggest fan of Wild Beer. Often their beer was just not to my taste. However in June a tried a Sleeping Lemons and my opinion did a full 180. This beer is refreshing and a wonderful combination of beer nerd loving easy to drink turn a cider/wine drinker into a beer lover concoction. Any time all the time. 

2. Award for ... Everything Beer
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. This beer is everything. It has an unusual enough flavour so as not to become boring but is exceptionally easy to drink. The alcohol content goes out the window because the taste is so satisfying – funky, sweet, and boozy – the best of saison and IPA combined. I would drink this as a train beer, a shower beer, or in the pub by the pint . . . carefully.  An all over winner that I can’t help going back to when we have it in. My text conversation with Alfie. 
C: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is what I am having as my train beer.
A: That’s like saying Jesus is your homie. 

3. Honourable mentions
Rothaus Hefeweizen. I had not truly appreciated this beer since my first event on July 2015 at TBB. Tried it again recently and my body reacted with a ridiculous squinty eye grin. This beer is for truly a lack of a better word MOORISH. Lovely German wheat without too much of that sweet banana “scumgummi” flavor (it’s a Finnish sweet). After having one I really didn’t want to try anything else which surprised me, and that is why this beer is my honorable mention. In addition some other beers I couldn't get enough of when they were in and truly deserving honorable mentions :  Weird Beard Out of Office, Viven's Imperial IPA, Ducato's Violent Femme, Tempest Old Parochial, Saison Du Japon.
 
Nick Herman - The beard begets the man

1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
Weird Beard Saison 28. An absolute stunner of a beer. I still remember the day I first tried it. It was shared by all the regulars in the store (Jbar, Nick, Benji, Brendan, Paul, Slade) as well as any one else who happened to be near by. Everyone, without exception, immediately became happier and more jovial. This is a beer that I would pay any price for, because a beer that can lift the energy of everyone in the room is one that is truly special. 

2. Award for ... Best Imported Beer
Since Odell is not currently exporting, I will have to go with Mother Earth Cali Creamin' as my imported beer of the year. I am a sucker for vanilla and this beer is like a goddamn cream soda. On a side note if Dimitri doesn't claim the last one soon, it may disappear.

3. Honourable mentions
A big shout out to the Siren specials (Proteus, Hillbilly Wine, Vermont Tea Party, Broken Dream Extra Shot) a serious return to form for them. Wild Beer Co Sleeping Lemons Export was outstanding, one I would love to have again, and again, and again, and again..... Thornbridge Versa, first time I have had this beer and it wont be the last, an excellent wheat beer.

Alfie Hall - West London Rear of the Year 2014 regional finalist

1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
Beavertown Bloody Notorious. A silky soujourn into somnambulance, a lupuloid Loki, beer of mischief, Bloody Notorious is a very naughty beer. The booziness almost entirely masks the blood orange, but you pick up a hint of it as you drink, and the subtle build of flavours make this beer akin to an Old Fashioned cocktail. It's a sophisticated drink which ruined me due to its moreish nature. The landing party ended with me missing my train, taking a series of punishing night busses in a worsening thunderstorm, and attacking a (deserved) bus with an umbrella which promptly disintegrated. I wish I hadn't discovered this beer because nothing else can match it. beer. gone. emptiness.

2. Award for ... Belgian-inspired beer of the Year

As a right thinking human being, I can happily declare myself a lover of Belgian beers; there is a certain magic to a fine Struise, Westy, or Malheur which surpasses hops, barley, water, yeast, and words. There have been some fantastic pretenders to the throne this year, and Belgian style beers are finally making serious headway in the UK craft scene. BBNo have for the last two years put out fantastic Tripels, which I love because they feel like more than just imitations, and Savour headbrewer Sandy can be unquestionably proud of his Malheur-style bier brut. My favourite of the year though would have to be Mad Hatter's March Hare, a pale ale which benefits from the addition of yeast smuggled back from the heavily guarded Orval monastery. Say what you will but I preferred this beer to the Belgian original (mmm... sacrilicious).

3. Honourable mentions
Everything from Siren. Still my favourite UK brewery, Siren have earned the honour a few times over in the last few weeks. Proteus v.1 and v.2 both were contenders for beer of the year (the Motueka heavy v.1 is my favourite), Hillbilly Wine is a masterpiece; the long wait for a new Broken Dream variation has born fruit with Broken Dream Extra Shot; and Half Mast, Vermont Tea Party and White Tips all make for perfect session beers. Siren, please accept this non-existent award from an avid fanboy. Also Poperings Hommelbier - now officially my favourite beer in the world, and Tempest / Brooklyn Serpent, for the West Country ciderbeast in me. One more? OK one more, Salopian Kashmir, a blend of Euro, NZ, and US hops, which is an olde English sensibility, heavenly brew.

Written by Alfie Hall — August 09, 2016

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