beers to try

TOP 10 BEERS

1. Beewyched Honey’d Ale, 5%vol, England (£1.57 per 50cl; Morrison, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose). From Wychwood brewery in Oxfordshire (pictured) – the UK’s largest brewer of organic beers – a crisp, refreshing, citrusy brew. Made with Fairtrade honey from Chile, Fairtrade sugar from Malawi and Challenger hops from England, it’s gently honeyed rather than sweet, with hugely appealing notes of dried fruit. Try it with treacle pudding.

2. Lindemans Framboise, 2.5%vol, Belgium (£1.63-£2.05 per 37.5cl; Asda, Booths, Waitrose). The classic Lambic fruit beer, spontaneously fermented then matured in oak with the addition of raspberry. Refreshingly light in alcohol, it’s clean, crisp and delicate, yet it also has a subtle richness backed by fine acidity. It cries out for an accompanying chocolate mousse or – dare I say it? – Black Forest gateau.

3. Floris Passion Fruit, 3.6%vol, Belgium (£1.65 per 33cl; http://www.beermerchants.com 01622 710339). Not the most butch of beers and not one I’d like to be caught drinking by the chaps, but strangely tasty nonetheless. A wheat beer with added passion fruit juice, it’s reminiscent of New Zealand sauvignon blanc on nose and palate, and full of ripe tropical fruit and tangy, zesty acidity.

4. Ruddles Rhubarb Ale, 4.7%vol, England (£1.76 per 50cl; Tesco). I’m not a great fan of rhubarb but I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one time ‘Best Beer’ in the Tesco Beer Challenge. More a summer beer than a winter one, it still has the typical hoppy Ruddles character, but with a bitter-sweet twist and blast of vanilla. It’s subtle, though, rather than overpowering and it goes particularly well with mature cheddar cheese.

5. Triple Karmeliet, 8.4%vol, Belgium (£1.79 per 33cl; Waitrose). Although this is hardly what you might call a session beer, nothing about it hits you too hard, despite its high level of alcohol. A three grain beer (wheat, barley and oats) with a secondary fermentation in bottle, it was recently voted ‘Best Ale’ at the World Beer Awards. Crisp yet creamy, delicate yet full-bodied, it’s a great match for watercress soup.

6. Innis & Gunn Blonde Lightly Oaked Beer, 6%vol, Scotland, (£1.59 per 33cl; Sainsbury’s). Innis & Gunn make cracking brews and their occasional rum cask-matured beer is an all-time favourite (it should be back in Sainsbury’s for Father’s Day in June). This is delicious too: refreshing and fruity with both citrus and vanilla on the palate. Best drunk on its own as a sharpener, it also goes beautifully with moules et frites.

7. Schlenkerla Rauchbier, 5.1%vol, Germany (£2.09-£2.75 per 50cl; http://www.onlyfinebeer.co.uk, http://www.beerhere.co.uk, http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk). This positively reeks of smoke and is quite unlike anything I’ve had before. It’s deliciously creamy, though, with a touch of sweetness and a nice bitter finish. The other night we drank it alongside smoked trout blinis and the success of the combination stunned us all.

8. Bacchus Kriek, 5.8%vol, Belgium (£2.39 per 37.5; Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco). I had my doubts about this, causing as it did a sudden flashback of sucking Tunes and Spangles as a child (remember them?), but it slipped down remarkably easily. Fermented cherry juice is added to Belgian brown ale to give a wonderful fresh cherry aroma and flavour which gently fades to leave a full, beery finish. Try it alongside squares of dark chocolate.

9. Brew Dog Paradox Isle of Arran, 10%vol, Scotland (£3.99 per 33cl; Oddbins, Sainsbury’s) Golly, this is good! An acquired taste, maybe, but one that I acquired in seconds. An imperial stout matured in barrels from the Isle of Arran whisky distillery, it’s deep, dark black/brown, rich and full-flavoured, with coffee, chocolate, spice and treacle on the palate. We served it in brandy balloons as a digestif at the end of dinner.

10. Deus, 11.5%vol, Belgium (£12.15 per 75cl; Waitrose). This is a remarkable brew, made in Belgium but treated like champagne with champagne yeast and a secondary fermentation in bottle. It’s also presented in a champagne bottle complete with cork stopper and is sold for a champagne price. But serve it well-chilled in elegant flutes as an aperitif and it suddenly doesn’t seem so pricey, nor so alcoholic. Smooth, creamy and slightly bitter, it’s a great start to a meal.

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One Response to “beers to try”

  1. Mike Says:

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