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I know I say this every month but never has it been truer. This post was almost impossible to write.
May was just crazy for beer. I drank several hundred, many simply world class.
The majority came from Cantillon’s legendary Quintessence event in Brussels. Where amongst other things I was drinking 20-year-old gueuze. And then the best four days of my life (beer wise) in Copenhagen.
I literally had a short list of over 200 beers at one point.
Since I’ll be writing up both Quintessence and Copenhagen Beer Celebration separately I decided to leave out the 100s of beers from them. But in the end, there were a few I just had to include.
Even though this is a bumper edition I still ended up leaving out some of the best beers I’ve drunk this year.
It’s a hard life!
Buxton Brewery – Bourbon Skyline (7.2% / Bottle)
There have been plenty of beers inspired by cocktails but most aren’t very good. I was dubious about Bourbon Skyline too – Buxton’s take on a Whisky Sour – but I trust them so went with it.
I’m so glad I did. The bourbon barrel aged Berliner Weisse is really something.
The aroma is sweet bourbon. Taste is slightly sour, dry and refreshing with bourbon and vanilla flavours coming through.
Founders Brewing Co – Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) by (11.2% / Keg at Bundobust)
Once regarded as the best imperial stout in the world. It may have been overtaken by newer, more exciting brews but it’s still one of the classics.
Released just once a year and disappears very quickly. I could only manage a bottle of it in 2015. But this year I secured a couple and was then lucky enough to find it on tap at Bundobust in Leeds.
The deep black beer is thick and rich with a lovely bourbon and vanilla aroma. Taste is quite sweet with loads of chocolate and coffee. There’s a warming background of bourbon.
I know it’s going to be tough but I’m attempting to save a bottle until Christmas.
Brasserie Cantillon – Vigneronne (2015) (5% / Bottle at Cantillon Brewery)
Quintessence is a ticketed event held every two years at Cantillon’s brewery in Brussels.
They open a wide range of bottles from their incredible cellars. From super fresh to extremely well aged. One of the highlights was ‘Vigneronne’, a blend of lambic and muscat grapes.
It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. Crisp, dry and light bodied with funky, wine-like aroma and a tart, slightly hoppy taste.
Mikkeller – Beer Geek Vanilla Shake (12% / Keg at BRUS, Copenhagen)
This is my second favourite of the ‘Beer Geek’ series (after Brunch Weasel).
I’ve had a couple of bottles before but never seen it on tap.
You can’t move for Mikkeller beers in Copenhagen though. Even on the opening night of BRUS, the new bar owned by their local rival To Øl.
The sweet and boozy oatmeal stout is brewed with coffee and vanilla. It pours black and tastes very rich. Sweet and full of milk chocolate and vanilla but the sweetness is balanced by bitter black coffee.
It was also helped by the fantastic vibe and street party atmosphere of the BRUS opening party.
Mad Hatter Brewing – Tzatziki Sour (4.5% / Bottle)
I’d been chasing this beer for ages but somehow kept missing it. Not quite Pina Collision level elusion but it wasn’t far off.
Even on the day I finally found it at a bottle shop in Leeds I’d missed it at Friends Of Ham, twice. Often such a big build up can only lead to disappointment but thankfully not this time.
It was almost worth the effort for the smell alone. It really does smell of tzatziki, big cucumber and mint.
The taste is a little more subtle but those flavours are still there. It’s very refreshing too, slightly sour with a yoghurt like creaminess.
It’s a gimmick beer, no doubt, but it works.
WarPigs – Sky Burial (10.2% / Keg at Warpigs Brewpub, Copenhagen)
WarPigs is a joint venture between Mikkeller and 3 Floyds. A great bar, famous for its BBQ food but also a brewpub.
Some of the beers on tap are ridiculously expensive (£16 for a THIRD of Dark Lord for example!) but the bottle prices of the beers brewed on site were very reasonable.
Naturally we took advantage of this and tried several.
This barley wine was my favourite. A lovely orange colour with a zesty orange aroma. It tastes sweet but with tons of fresh hops, very light and almost more like a DIPA than a barley wine.
Evil Twin Brewing – Pappy’s Even More Jesus (12% / Keg at Himmeriget, Copenhagen)
There are so many amazing bars in Copenhagen. BRUS, WarPigs and various other Mikkeller bars are all great.
But perhaps the best is Himmeriget. Sister bar of Tørst in New York, owned by Mikkeller’s ‘Evil Twin’ Jeppe. It certainly is when it comes to the bottle list.
I spent a wonderful couple of hours there and enjoyed nine beers. At least four of them were worthy of this list.
I somehow narrowed down to just this one.
An imperial stout aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels. With a huge aroma of chocolate, bourbon and vanilla and a slight smokiness coming through.
The flavour is sweet and rich with chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and some cocoa bitterness at the end.
It’s complex but ludicrously drinkable for 12%. Definitely one of the best beers I’ve drunk this year.
Brasserie Cantillon – Fou’ Foune (5% / Bottle at Cantillon Quintessence & Keg at Moeder Lambic, Brussels)
Another stunner from Cantillon. I had this one twice in under 24 hours. First from bottle at the Quintessence event and then again at the best bar in Brussels, Moeder Lambic.
Both were equally stunning.
The apricot lambic is a vibrant yellow colour. It’s soft and fruity, crisp and dry. Funky, sour and woody with a slight sweetness. Quite possibly one of my top ten of all time beers.
Evil Twin Brewing – Freudian Slip (10.3% / Bottle)
I enjoyed this barley wine about a year ago but this time, it was just unbelievably good.
I’m not sure if it was a different batch, or the same batch having benefited from a year of ageing. Or perhaps it just tasted better in Copenhagen.
Either way, it was a delight. Sweet and malty but with a big hop hit too. Piney and slightly floral. Insanely drinkable for 10%.
3 Floyds Brewing Company – Zombie Dust (6.2% / Keg at Warpigs Brewpub, Copenhagen)
One of the worlds most hyped beers. I’m always wary of tasting stuff that I’ve read about for years but this one didn’t disappoint.
It probably helped to drink it in 3 Floyds own pub, the freshness really showed.
An absolutely banging, super juicy American pale ale. It’s all citrus and pine aromas with hoppy, tropical fruit and citrus flavours.
A classic, for good reason.
Amager Bryghus – Todd: The Axe Man (6.5% / Bottle at Ølbutikken, Copenhagen)
Ølbutikken is a cool little bottle shop in Copenhagen. Originally owned by Evil Twin although I’m not sure that’s still the case.
It’s still a great place though with a couple of taps and loads of bottles. We went for one from another Danish brewery I’ve been a fan of for a while, Amager.
This American style IPA is brewed in collaboration with Surly. It was amazingly fresh and very light. With a bready sweet malt backbone and dank, grassy and piney hops on top.
Brasserie Cantillon – Lou Pepe Framboise (2013) (5% / Bottle at Cantillon Brewery)
Despite tasting around 20 stunning beers on the Quintessence tour we couldn’t ignore the bar at the end. Not when there are beers like this available.
The 2013 version of Lou Pepe Framboise was one of the best all day.
An amazing colour. A lovely dry, tart and fruity lambic bursting with fresh raspberry flavour. There’s some woodiness in there too and perhaps a touch of balsamic vinegar. But it’s really all about those raspberries.
Omnipollo – Anagram Blueberry Cheesecake Stout (12% / Keg at Copenhagen Beer Celebration (CBC) 2016)
Copenhagen Beer Celebration is quite literally the best beer festival on the planet.
The best breweries in the world each bring at least two of their greatest or rarest beers per session (there are four sessions). There’s only one keg of each beer and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
I managed to taste over 100 beers and it’s no exaggeration to say that at least 25 of them would’ve made this list any other month. Maybe 50.
I’ll be writing the event up shortly so have restricted myself to just one for now.
Omnipollo are absolutely killing it at the moment. I’ve always been a fan of their more conventional beers. Like Mazarin, a quality oatmeal pale or Nebuchadnezzar, one of the best DIPAs around.
But their more experimental beers are just fantastic right now. From their Ice Cream IPAs to their Smoothies, they’re expertly blurring the lines between beer and dessert.
This stout is more of the same.
With its incredible aroma of blueberries and cheesecake. Yes, actual cheesecake.
The taste is sweet with chocolate, vanilla and loads of blueberry flavour.
It’s original, it’s unique, it’s just brilliant.
It’s HARD to come up with these lists. Keep up with all my drinking on Untappd or Twitter:Follow @BeerGeekBlog Follow @FoodGeekUK