Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My 10 Favourite Breweries (at the moment)

Pretty self explanatory this one.

Here then, in reverse order, are my 10 favourite giants of the brewing world.  I hasten to add, (or preamble) that this classification is temporal, 'of the now' and entirely personal in a way which means it is not based on any kind of established measurement or Worldwide score.  I reserve the right to change my mind next week. 

This is a bit of an leftfield choice, but I justify it thus: these Lithuanian macro lads provide a range of lager variants which are very consistent and which consistently offer refreshment, archetypal lager finesse and balance.  Plus they also offer an excellent wheat beer.  They are also cheap/good options in the face of the 'craft' onslaught.  Buy these products from Lithuanica and you will be pleasantly rewarded. 

Summer Wine
I just love these guys.  I never get to sample them on tap obviously (except when I go to Sheffield (once, ever)), but I still love them.  Great range of styles, great hops, accessible proficiency.  Cohort is a favourite.  Buy at Stirchley and Cotteridge.    

I was going to be controversial and leave them out, but then I remembered Dogma.  And 5AM Saint.  And IPA is Dead.  And their bars - where you can sample all of their wares.  Come August, come Birmingham and join their gang.  

Another obvious choice.  I don't love Jaipur as much as some people, but I do love Raven, St. Petersburg, Geminus.  And many more.  Solid and spectacular.  Consistent and highly productive also.  Try them on tap at the Victoria, Rose Villa Tavern, Waggon and Horses; try them via bottle at all the usual [good] Birmingham outlets.  And Tesco.    

Schneider Weisse
Schneider Original is the best Hefeweisse in the World, period.  Well, in my opinion anyway.  Aventinus is a classic Doppelbock.  Hopfenweisse is a delicious collaboration with Brooklyn and marries traditionally unyielding German style, with new World hops.  Tap X is another example of their delicious wheat credibility, but with an eye to the future.  These lot deserve their place on any list.  To be found at Post Office Vaults and Cotteridge and Stirchley (get used to me saying this). 

They only seem to do one style - Sour Flemish Ale.  Thankfully I love Sour Flemish Ale, and they make the best one (Grand Cru).  They also make a junior version, which is very pleasant.  Their retired Alexander is top of my list of retired beers, that I dream of sampling in Belgium.  See them at Post Office Vaults and our chums on the Pershore Road.   

I'm a fan of Lambic Fruit beers going way back, and Lindemans' Kriek and Pecheresse are among my very favourites.  That alone may not have been enough to warrant their place on my list, but recently I have sampled a couple of bottles of their Cuvee Rene Gueuze, which I ab-so-lutely love.  Give me a 3-pack of those aforementioned err 3 and I'll be happy, Mother.  Check them at Post Office Vaults and possibly Stirchley and Cotteridge.  

De Molen
New-ish, but more than just good-ish.  Very good in fact.  I love their hop aromas and their embracement of both British, continental and US styles.  Very good value (mostly) at the Post Office Vaults, too.

If I had written this post 2 weeks ago I might have left them out, as I was slightly jaded, from hearing about their delicious strong beers on tap in the best London bars, for £4.95 a half, knowing full well I had neither the money, nor opportunity to sample them.  Also, it had been a while since I'd tried one of their bottles which really knocked my socks off.  This week however I have been bowled over by both Wheat is the New Hops and Beer Hop Breakfast, which were both mindnumbingly good.  They are indeed prolific, innovative and worthy of the hype.  Available mostly at Stirchley Wines.   

Norway's finest; they offer a range of the most beautifully well constructed hoppy beers, with a great example of virtually every style you can think of.  Balanced, precise and magnificent.  Their consistency is first class - better than everyone else in fact.  Almost everyone.  (As seen at Stirchley and POV).   

The Kernel
The UK's best, just got bigger.  A bigger brewery that is.  I'll never forget my first Kernel - Simcoe IPA purchased from the Euston Tap.  It was an explosion of taste, with hopping hitherto unseen in a beer from the British Isles.  I try to relive that first encounter whenever I can.  I always love it.

Do you like?


  1. I went off Kernel after having their Black V. Not that they're not good; that's why I was so disappointed. I'd struggle to leave out Buxton from a top 10. And Red Willow have now done enough for me to make it. Also, as a big Rauchbier fan, definately Schlenkerla. But aside from that similar choices. Apart from - no American choices?

  2. Interesting... I've not had anything by Svyturys although there are a couple of specialist Lithuanian shops in Norwich which may sell their beers so I'll check 'em out if you recommend them!