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Our Favourite Beers of 2015

Stories

We have been blown away by the staggering choice, diversity and quality of beer that has ended up in our glasses this year not only from the UK but internationally and, we think, from our own brewery as well. So here are our top beers from Wild Beer, our UK friends and our International icons.

WILD BEER CO

Sleeping Lemons | 3.6%

Brewed with preserved lemons in salt and lemon juice it has the puckering acidity of Victorian lemonade. Refreshing and zippy it was initially a beer brewed for the spring and summer months but it was so popular (with you and us!) that we absorbed it into our year round beers.

Modus Operandi – Blend 52 | 7%

Blending of Modus Operandi is an art which we are continually seeking to improve. Our Barrels dictate what flavours are available as we release Modus Operandi 4-5 times throughout the year. We have to take this into consideration and we blend accordingly. 50/50 red wine and bourbon barrels it’s a delicate balance and our barrel team spend days tasting barrels and testing blends. This one was just magic.

Squashed Grape | 6%

Tying together the very separate worlds of wine and beer we took the waste product of wine production called grape must, or pomace, and inoculated a beer with them. Knowing that there are wild yeasts present in the skins of grapes which are now disregarded by the wine producing community we harnessed the funkiness and acidity provided by them as well as harbouring our Proprietary Somerset cider orchard yeast for an incredible beer. Bright pink and possibly our funkiest beer to date – packed full of tart acidity and vinous character.

The Blend Summer 2015 | 4.7%

Our third summer heralded a significant milestone for us this year – we have barrels which were filled in the summer or 2012 which having reached 3 years old we were ready to launch on our most exciting barrel project – Gueze-Inspired Blends. We take the epitome of flavour we can achieve from our barrels at that point in time, for that point in time. Light, bright, complex and intriguing the Summer Blend is the crown jewel of our Barrel Library.

BrettBrett Double IPA | 8.4%

We decided to take one of our favourite styles, the Double IPA, and ferment it 100% with Brett. It turned out amazing, tropical southern hemisphere hop aroma bursting from the glass. Brett presence was initially low but once in bottle (and keg) it will begin to scavenge oxygen and break down proteins to create wholly new aromatics and flavour compounds constantly changing!! We were so excited to share this beer we launched it in 10 bars across the UK for #BrettBrettFest.

 

THE UK

Burning Sky – Cuvee | 6.5%

Burning Sky share an ethos of brewing what they enjoy drinking. The basis for the brewery is barrel ageing and foudre aging (big ole barrels) which impart wood character less but harbour microflora like nothing else. The delicate wood and wonderful acidity make Burning Sky’s sour beer a delight and the Cuvee incorporates imported lambic blended into their tart saison. Beautiful acidity and refreshing carbonation it’s a pick me up for the taste buds that you find hard to put down.

BrewDog – Born To Die | 8.5%

Borrowing a concept from Stone Brewing Co in California Born To Die is the epitome of FRESH. There’s no waiting around in a container ship or being held at customs, this beer is bottled and out of the brewery and on shelves within a few days of it finishing conditioning. They place a very short shelf life stamping the “death date” on the name of the beer. This is your time limit within which to enjoy this IPA at its best. After this it still tastes delicious, but somehow it’s dead to us…

Magic Rock – Highwire Grapefruit | 5.5%

The Huddersfield giants have turned out incredible beers this year and launched their canned line with signature, mesmerizing branding. Bright and bold as the can that it comes in Highwire has been a staple across the UK for beer fans. With the addition of grapefruit and the freshness held inside the can, the citrus hops burst forth from the psst of opening the can.

Harbour – Barely-wine | 13%

Keep heading South-West from Somerset and you’ll hit Harbour brewing in Cornwall. This 13% monster barley-wine has been aged in Bourbon Barrels. As balanced as it is big with caramel and dried fruit aromas complemented with hints of wood and lots of vanilla from the bourbon barrels. Just awesome.

Beavertown – Gammaray | 5.4%

Ok, OK. This one’s not a 2015 release but Beavertown have been killing it in 2015 (remember Blubus Maximus??) and Gammaray has been going from strength to strength as they have increased their production. Testament to their dedication to fresh, aromatic and delicious beer in cans is in every sip. Crisp, refreshing, citrus bitterness is everything you want in a session-able beer.  

 

International

Firestone Walker/Barrelworks – Zin Skin | 7.4%

The town of Bueltin holds one of the most exciting (in our humble opinion) breweries in the USA – Barrelworks, the sour beer program started by Firestone Walker in California. Their Barrel and Foudre hall boasts an incredible number of litres of beer aging and souring in wood. Their use of wild ingredients and blending abilities are a source of inspiration for us. Zin Skin takes famous Californian pinot noir grapes and allows the skins to contact the beer turning it a beautiful pink and giving an incredibly complex acidity merging perfectly with their house microflora and barrel flavours.

Brasserie Tilquin – Oude Gueze | 6%

Piere Tilquin in Belgium is producing blended sour beers and not brewing a drop: buying in lambic and filling barrels to age from various sour beer producers in Belgium who make traditional lambic beer. Peire’s eye, or tongue, for blending is what really cements Tilquin in our top 5 international breweries. There’s so much character, subtlety and complexity in each bottle. Pure Geuze heaven!

Lervig – Oat IPA | 7.2%

Lervig’s ‘What’s brewing?’ festival held in Norway was possibly the best beer festival we had ever been to, set against the back drop of their epic Brewhouse where they can brew huge batches but prefer to stick to small, more experimental brews. Oats are one of our favourite ingredients and we love the mouthfeel that it provides our Bibble pale ale. This Oat IPA is a stand out this year for its full creamy body and assertive hop bitterness and aromas.

BFM – Le Abbey des Chats avec le Bon Chien | 11%

BFM are unquestionably king of barrels and blending; producing some incredible beer with Bon Chien reaching cult status. Taking nothing seriously except his beer Jerome (the master blender/brewer) is notorious for the number of barrels he will taste each day which will be jotted down and blended to his specifications – what results is a menagerie of barrel complexity, lactic acidity and brett funk. Probably our favourite ever beer….

OEC – Amara Sour (Blend #1) | 5%

OEC – “the eccentric brewers” are creating some really unusual and awesome beers in Connecticut with emphasis on historical and sour beer brewing with a focus on Belgian and North German styles. The Amara Sour is a barrel-aged, smoked, sour wheat ale – a Grodziskie/Gratzer. There’s debate as to whether this style of beer was sour or not, but this one sure as hell is – a 50/50 blend of new and old Arama. One for those who like to challenge what beer tastes like!