Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ratebeer Best 2012 - Part One

For the uninitiated, Ratebeer is a worldwide beer 'rating' website, where users score and review the different beers they have tried.  It's a fascinating mine of beer information, not just on individual brews, but also on the places to drink them.

Last week Ratebeer released the results of it's annual 'Best' awards, where they agglomerate the scores entered during the past 12 months, run whatever algorithms they run and then proclaim which beers and beer bars are the best in the world, by region and beer style.

It's all fascinating stuff, especially for a sad git like me, who revels in statistics and chompable lumps of data.  But for those who take a more pragmatic view of 'this sort of thing', here is an abridged version if you like, with some highlights handpicked by moi.

First off, lets look at the overall list of the 50 best beers.  The number 1 is Westvleteren 12, a very famous Belgian Quadrupel, which is usually there or thereabouts in polls such as this.  Other familiar faces include: Rochefort 10, Pannepot and St. Bernadus 12, two of which are available at Stirchley Wines.  A lot of the remaining 50 are American, from big-name brewers such as Alesmith, Russian River, Bells, Stone, Goose Island and Founders.  The number three beer on the list: Goose Island Bourbon Stout was purchased by me on Monday (and I cannot wait to try this 13% beast); but a lot of the others are either not available in Birmingham, or not available in the UK at all.   

Another prominent name on the list is Danish brewer Mikkeller, who are now [thankfully] available in Brum, and are well worth seeking out for their large and interesting flavours.

Moving onto the list of the Best Brewers: the top spot is taken by Three Floyds, of Indiana, with the top UK brewery being The Kernel at number 39.  The other two English brewers on the list are Samuel Smith and Thornbridge, with Brewdog and Harviestoun there to represent Scotland.  Again, as Ratebeer is a US-based site, there are a lot of North American brewers on the list, but I'm glad to see one of my favourite international outfits - the Norwegian brewery Nogne, right up there at 41.

As a more interesting exercise and rather than me just commentating on the results, I thought it would be interesting to continue a previous blog post and examine the list of Top 50 UK beers in a bit more detail, to register which ones I have spotted in Brum. 

So, of the top 50, 21 are the work of the Kernel, and a good few of these will have been available at SWS.  There are then: 4 Magic Rock, 2 Brewdog, 3 Thornbridge, a Fullers, a Brakspear, a Theakston, 2 Oakham - all of which should (should) have been in the City at some point.  In the case of the Magic Rock, their appearance has only been within the last couple of weeks.  I think we've probably had a least a couple of the Buxton and Marble beers on offer, but I'm really not sure about the Arbor, Tempest, Old King Henrys or the Redemption collaboration.  All in all a pretty heartwarming hit rate for top beers having popped up in our locale, but then again it has to be recognised that most of these have been witnessed in bottled form, in one single location.  If we were ticking off the ones spotted on tap in City pubs, there would only have been a handful.  So consider the backslapping tempered slightly. 

The most interesting inclusion is from local brewery Sadlers, whose Hop Bomb makes an appearance at 31.  This is a marvellous beer, which caused me to dribble all down my front when gladly devouring a foaming pint at Sadlers' brewery tap - the Windsor Castle in Lye.  It is a massive achievement for one of our local breweries to be mixing it amongst the nationally feted company described above.  Bravo!    

Tomorrow I'll have a bit of a nose through some of the other categories, but right now, I'm cream crackered, so I'm off to bed.  I'll keep it short tomorrow, so don't worry.   

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