And so it ends. If this was The X Factor i’d say I’d been on a journey.
33) Acorn Blonde (cask): Very pale with intense hop whiffs. Loads of orange and citrus tang. Long dry hoppy finish (though my lasting memory of this is of it being sweet). Great.
34) Phoenix Spooky Brew (cask): Dark gold with a tight head. Coffee flavours up front with tangy toffee and bitter malt. Well balanced with a dark, fruity finish.
36) Einsiedler Brauhaus Gutenberg Original Helles (bottle): Lemony-gold body. Faintly hoppy nose. Refreshing, unremarkable helles – but OK. A mystery this. I have it in my notes but not a clue where or when I drank it.
37) Moorhouse Mistletoe Madness (cask): Dark copper body with one-finger head. Very hoppy nose, with fresh and tangy toffee flavours and a bitter ending. Gorgeous – another winner from Moor’ouse.
38) Jollyboat Heart Of Oak (cask). Dark mahogany, treacly nose and a coating, sticky malt sweetness. Tangy and sort of tickly. Not bad, but one’s enough.
39) Nethergate Augustian (cask). Light mahogany body, with an instant wallop of fruit – apple, plum, raspberry. Smooth, light malty finish with a bit of appley-dryness. Good session beer.
40) Bathams Best Bitter (bottle). Very lagery appearance with a surviving pillowy head. Faint peppery, spicy nose. Sweet, biscuity with butterscotch and a light malt hit but with a good hop balance and a long sweet finish. Lovely.
So. There we are. I’ve actually had many more than 40 since my birthday last August, filling in the last field of my nerdy little tasting booklet sometime in December. I hope my notes have been OK – they haven’t always made sense to me, either – have a look at number 39; “A bit of appley-dryness”. You what?
All new to me, but nothing really exotic – try as I might I couldn’t get hold of a Westvleteren 12 – but I enjoyed (almost) every single one. Like Barry M says over at The Bitten Bullet: Every new beer is a risk. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.
The highlight for me was Brewdog Punk IPA. Just a superb beer, and the real stinker was Fraoch Heather Ale. Even worse when I gave it a second chance. Disgusting. I wouldn’t wash a dog in it.
Best of all, though, was discovering regional heroes – like Bathams. Their Best Bitter was the last beer entered on my list – and a fine ale it was too. I’d never heard of them until I got a Christmas box o’ random beers from Mrs TIW’s aunt and uncle. I especially liked their idiosyncratic labelling and the bull on the crown cap. The fact it was drunk from a ludicrous souvenir of Sharm-El-Sheik didn’t detract one bit. In a time where everything seems to becoming evermore homegenised, bland and beige goo, it’s great to know there are independents hardly known (to me, anyway) outside their locale who are just getting on with knocking out wonderful brews. Cheers.
If you’re bothered, the full list is here. Hopefully it should be clear what was bottle (or tin) and what was draught – all of which were cask (or vom fass in one German case).