Robin Brown, worldtravelguide.net’s managing director and a serious beer aficionado, gives us his Top Ten from the tasting
Beer expert and brewer Rupert Ponsonby on the extraordinary variety of modern beer, with a brief history of beer from 4,000BC to the present
worldtravelguide.net editor Adam Lechmere tastes and rates 37 beers from every corner of the brewing world
1. Kernel Export India Porter 5.9%, London, England
Exactly what I am looking for in a solid porter. For me that’s full-bodied, a deep smooth mouthful, but a subtle bitterness on the way down. If you love a more ‘creamy’ porter, perhaps something you might expect from a stout, but with the flavours and aromas of chocolate and coffee, rounded out by a lovely medium sweetness, this is definitely for you. Sit around the fire sipping this one with roasted chestnuts. Winner.
2. Westmalle Tripel, Belgium, 9.5%
Wow. Very rich, very fruity, very powerful, sticky and almost tropical. A delicious creaminess in the mouth, cloves and dark fruits come through in abundance. Not overly sweet. A solid, long-lasting foamy head you could shave with. With such a robust ale it’s easy to forget its strength. However, have more than one bottle of this and you’re likely be on your knees. A superb example of a trappist ale, would pair excellently with a steak and blue cheese.
3. Schneider Weisse Tap 7, Germany, 5.4%
A decidedly full bodied, mahogany coloured, wheat beer with a head that lasts deep into the glass, protecting the rich aromas of cloves, nutmeg, bananas until savoured on the tongue. A surprisingly clean taste though, both sweet and bitter, with a very satisfying finish. This would definitely compliment a hearty stew, sausage or cheese.
4. Goose Island IPA, USA, 5.9%
Definitely hits the mark as an IPA, strong on hops, but not overly so. A delicious lightness in taste for a beer at 5.9%. Hints of tropical fruit and tangerine, but still with a moderate maltiness and a pleasant sweetness. Its solid hop finish will have you counting down the minutes (or seconds) to the next mouthful.
5. Beavertown, Gamma Ray, London, 5.4%
Crazy can illustrations aside, which alone stir the attention of others, this is a really fun pale ale in a can. There’s a lot going on here from a beer in the style of an American Pale Ale, brewed in Tottenham. Everything from a bold hoppiness, some spice, a nice fruitiness even some tropical notes and some refreshing sourness. For me a light body, thin texture, which I didn’t mind, and some sweetness, makes for a fun drink.
6. Fullers ESB 5.9%, London, England
This was surprising, particularly as I’m not much of a Fullers fan. A deep golden ale, luscious and syrupy, silky smooth for a bitter, slightly sweet and seems to stick to the sides of your throat going down, in a nice way. Leaves a deeply satisfying subtle bitterness to a long finish, reminding you that this is a special bitter. Definitely brings a bold smile to your face.
7. Mr Trotter’s Chestnut Ale 4%, England
For pure satisfying drinkability, this chestnut-coloured and slightly-flavoured ale, with a touch of smokiness to it, ticks all the boxes for me. It evokes an autumnal day and that smell of woodsmoke in the air. Not hoppy but a touch of maltiness and a gentle finish; a great session beer.
8. Hobgoblin Legendary Ruby, 5.2%, England
It’s probably the chocolate and crystal malts that combine to produce an immensely powerful copper, ruby red ale. Great maltiness, a touch of dandelion and burdock, caramel and fruit too, makes for a smooth finishing, deeply satisfying brew with a wonderful aroma.
9. Paolozzi, Edinburgh Beer Factory, Helles Lager 5.2 %, Scotland
A nice but surprisingly sweet-edged finish to this golden, honey-noted amber-coloured lager. Some malt, and a mild hoppy finish; doesn’t hang around on the palate and is quite refreshing with its slight bitterness. Not remarkable, but something I found very enjoyable.
10. Liefmans Kriek, 6% (2012 bottling), Belgium
Definitely on the light side for a Belgian beer, but its deep red colour, sweet cherries and touch of marzipan, made this a wonderful mouthful, especially with its hint of sourness. For a beer thinner than expected, it has almost syrupy finish with a sweet aftertaste. This is a beer that could give you your first, gentle, introduction to the world of ‘sour’ beers.
The Beer Awards is a new beer competition run by the world’s leading experts in drinks competitions, The IWSC Group. Entry deadline: 19th September.