My Year in Beer - 2018
This year my (almost) lifelong interest in the beer that I drink has seen two noticeable developments - diving into the world of beer Twitter, and launching this blog. Like many things in my recent journey into the world of beery, much of the credit for this has to go to my good friend Ruth. In particular, it was in early 2017 that she shared that she was guesting on the Beer O'Clock Show, and that was my gateway to discovery of the online beer community.
|Cheers to 2018!|
Beers of the Year
I had thought that I might hit my 1,000th unique beer on Untappd over the Christmas / New Year period last year. As it happened I was 21 beers short at the turn of the year, and it took until almost the end of February to reach that landmark. I had intended the 1,000th beer to be something special, but I miscalculated and so my 999th beer was one of my beers of the year Brouwerij Van Steenberge's Gulden Draak. A month later, the Gulden Draak 9000 Quad was my next beery highlight.
At the end of August I enjoyed the Norwich Craft Beer Mash Up (blog post here), where I thoroughly enjoyed Elusive Brewing's Shadow of the Beast, Bible Black Bourbon Barrel Aged from Nene Valley Brewery, and Experiments in Evil by Ampersand Brew Co. The final beers to make my shortlist this year are Millionaire by Wild Beer Co, and Station 119's New England IPA.
|Andy Parker serving up his Shadow of the Beast at the Norwich Craft Beer Mash Up|
From amongst this selection of great beers I'm going to select two Beers of the Year. First of all Shadow of the Beast, which was so good that I went back for a second, and even a third, on a night that had started off being all about ticking off as many beers as possible. My other beer of the year is Station 119's NEIPA, simply because this is a beer that I hope to be able to enjoy on draft again from time to time at my favourite pub - the Sweffling White Horse.
Events of the Year
Being out in the sticks of coastal Suffolk, and with limited time and money for travelling, I have a long list of events that I would love to get to but haven't so far. I considered giving you my wish list, but it would take too long!
I must give an honourable mention to the Cherry Tree for their beer festival (blog post here), which was the very definition of how to put on a really good pub beer festival. I also had an excellent evening introducing a couple of beer novice friends to some of the variety of beer styles as we sat around a camp fire. And, of course, I have to mention the Theberton Lion Beer Club - a monthly tasting session, often hosted by a visiting brewery. This kind of event is probably commonplace in many cities, but I imagine is quite unique in a rural village pub.
Again I can't pick a clear winner. As well as the Norwich Craft Beer Mash Up, which I have already mentioned, there was also the Norwich Amateur Craft Brewers Festival (blog post here). Both of these events featured great beer selections, but more importantly they were fantastic opportunities to chat to people who were passionate, and well informed, about beer. I especially enjoyed chatting to Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing; happily Fi caught the hint and bought me a copy of his book - signed no less!
Brewery of the Year
Living less than 15 miles from Southwold, I really can't avoid mentioning Adnams. I certainly make a point of picking up new releases in small pack whenever I can, and often enjoy drinking Southwold Bitter and Ghost Ship on cask. However, my two favourite local pubs are both free houses, and so I drink less Adnams than I might otherwise. Other local breweries that are deserving of honourable mention include Grain, Green Jack, Norfolk Brewhouse, and Boudicca Brewing Co. Thanks to the Theberton Lion Beer Club, and writing this blog, I have been lucky enough to meet some of the people behind each of these breweries. I can honestly say that the people are as good as the beers.
In what is becoming a theme, there are two breweries that share the honours. Ampersand Brew Co. were new to me this year, despite having launched last year and only being about 20 miles from home. Every beer of theirs that I have drunk has scored at least a 4 on Untappd, and I can't imagine being disappointed by them. Unfortunately, they never seem to be available in local pubs and for that reason they miss out on being undisputed champions. The other brewery that I have enjoyed a lot of this year has been All Day Brewing Company I particularly enjoyed their Quince and Wormwood Gose, which I wasn't expecting to find in a village pub like the Sweffling White Horse.
|Ampersand beers, courtesy of Sir Toby's Beers of Norwich|
Pub of the Year
I have to say that I don't get out to the pub as often as I might like. For that reason there really can be only contender - the pub that I go to pretty much every week, and three times in less than 24 hours one weekend this year! That pub is the Sweffling White Horse (blog post here), winner of East Anglian Pub of the Year in 2015 and Ipswich and East Suffolk Pub of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
A Year in Homebrewing
This time last year my blog was still in it's infancy and my homebrew review was just my fourth post. At the time I had brewed 166 pints. This year figure is less at just 134 pints. These are tiny numbers even by the standards of most homebrewers. However, that is because I brew just a gallon at a time, and pretty much only for my own consumption. Looking forward to next year, I am very keen to try my hand at water treatment. Andy Parker's book - Essential Homebrewing - makes the subject appear rather less daunting than it had seemed before.
|Brew day in the Uncruliar kitchen|
Looking Forward to 2019
Obviously, the thing that I am most looking forward to is signing my exclusive deal as official number cruncher with award winning podcast Hopinions. Aside from that, I hope to be able to tick off one or two the prestige events from the wishlist I mentioned earlier. One thing that I know I have to look forward to though, is four days in Belgium at the end of February.
I also hope to be able to keep up with writing this blog. From the end of February through to October this year I was writing almost every week. I hit a bit of a hiatus towards the end of they year so I will see if I can get back to regular writing again.