Saturday, 10 November 2012

Beer of the Year 2012

The ever excellent Campaign for Really Good Beer recently issued their call for Beer of the Year selections (**and then announced the winner, which I'll mention at the end). 

I'm a stats geek, I love lists and I use Ratebeer to record every new beer I try.  In short, I was built to choose my beers of the year.  In fact, I took the whole nomination process so seriously that I ended up writing copious notes for myself, to ensure the rigorousness of the submission.

Here then, for your information and 'enjoyment' is a schemata showing how I came to settle on the eventual selection of my 3 beers of the year for 2012.

First task was to scour my reviews on Ratebeer, to see which beers earned the best marks during 2012.  The results are as follows  (showing which beers scored 4.7 out of 5.0 and so on):

{I'm not doing links in this post, otherwise I'd be here all night.  I have been here all night anyway, but .....}

1.                        De Molen Mooi and Medogenloos
2.                        Mikkeller Beer Hop Breakfast
3.                        Kernel Black IPA III
4.                        Lindemans Cuvee Rene Gueuze
5.                        Brodies Hoxton Special IPA

6.                        Brewdog/Mikkeller I Hardcore You
7.                        De La Senne Jambe de Bois

8.                        Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
9.                        Lion Stout
10.                    Kernel Double SCCANS
11.                    Nogne India Saison
12.                    Ska Modus Hoperandi
13.                    Mikkeller/Grassroots Wheat is the New Hops
14.                    Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor
15.                    De Ranke Saison de Dottignies
16.                    Kernel IPA Summit
17.                    Tiny Rebel Urban IPA
18.                    Brodies Smoked IPA

Now aside from beers specifically falling within those three highest score 'brackets', I also felt that there were some which, though they had scored lower, left such a positive impression on me, that they deserved to be included in this conversation.  These are they: 

Selected highlights
19.                    Kernel Brick
20.                    Brodies London Lager
21.                    To Ol Raid
22.                    De Molen Amarillo
23.                    Buxton Imperial Black
24.                    Beavertown 8-Ball Rye IPA
25.                    Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (Nigerian)
26.                    Arbor Single Hop Citra
27.                    Brodies Hackney Red IPA
28.                    Nogne Imperial Stout

Now inevitably there will have been other beers which I really enjoyed but have missed.  I've tried to minimise that risk, but it's still an outside possibility. That's life.  I'll live with it. 

Having selected the contenders, I still needed to pluck three from within.  The most straightforward thing would be to pick the 3 beers I liked best, from that group which scored 4.7 - such a trio would look like this:

Top 3 by score

De Molen Mooi and Medogenloos
Kernel Black IPA III
Brodies Hoxton Special IPA

The other [alternative] thing to do, would be to nose through the whole list and then pick the three which give me the warmest, fondest feelings - such a list would look like hence:

Top 3 by ‘hunch’

Brodies Hoxton Special IPA
Tiny Rebel Urban IPA
Nogne India Saison

OK, have you noticed anything?  Yes, we have a clear winner, which is Brodies Hoxton Special IPA.  Well done to them, very well deserved.  However, in terms of submitting a trio to CAMRGB, I still needed to make a decision.  It came down to one of my enduring internal wrangles - i.e. does scoring/reviewing a beer on Ratebeer always reflect exactly how much you enjoy it?  If you think yes, then the beers with the best scores are the best.  Simple as.  However, if you think that there is some contextual x-factor which impacts upon how much you enjoy a particular beer, then there is a real chance that your Ratebeer scores (based as they are on technical proficiency*) will not capture the pleasure gained from imbibing the beer in question.  Now obviously this is deeply boring and naval-gazing beer geekery, so I will cut to the chase and say that I decided to pick my three 'hunch' beers, i.e. the ones which I believe I loved the most this year.

But it's been a great year for beer.  No debating that.

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As an addendum, here is a list of breweries and how many times their products featured in my Top 28. 

Mikkeller - 4
Kernel - 4
Brodies - 4
De Molen – 2
Nogne - 2
Buxton - 1
Brewdog - 1
Guinness - 1
Beavertown - 1
To Ol - 1
Arbor - 1
Tiny Rebel - 1
De Ranke - 1
Gouden Carolus - 1
Lion - 1
Dottignies - 1
Ska - 1
Lindemans - 1
De La Senne – 1***

Almost as equally fascinating (I think), and by this measure then Mikkeller, Kernel and Brodies are joint top of my tree - which pretty much sums it up.

**The Overall Result

In the time it took me to write this post, CAMRGB performed the much more impressive feat of counting up all the votes and publishing the results.  According then, to the members and supporters of the Campaign for Really Good Beer, the beer of the year was Kernel S.C.C.A.NS. IPA.  I must admit, that even though it wasn’t on my list, I’m pleased that a Kernel beer won, as they are a magnificent brewery. 

So I didn’t back the winner, but ho hum it’s no biggie.  The main thing is that loads of people have managed to identify loads of lovely beers this year, which made this year a 12 month celebration of erm lovely beer.  [unbelievably poor sentence].

*I have always intended to write a fulsome blog post, which attempts to explain the fascination of and the mindset required for a full appreciation of Ratebeer.  I daresay I'll do it, once I perform some significant self analysis.

***Eagle-eyed UK beer fans will be aghast to see that no Magic Rock beers made my list of 28 finalists.  I’m a bit surprised myself, but there is good reason: almost 11 months after beginning this blog, with the aim of trying to bring Magic Rock and other top breweries to the pubs of Birmingham….. they have still not arrived.  Aside from the odd [extremely] isolated occasion and at beer festivals, I have still never, NEVER glimpsed a Magic Rock beer on a handpull in the city.  I have witnessed not a single one of those lovely Magic Rock pumpclips winking at me, as I entered a bar.  Surely, surely this cannot go on for much longer?  Next year’s new batch of Birmingham ‘craft’ pubs must surely right this wrong (surely). 


  1. I am certain that once Brewdog opens in Brum, we'll see some Magic Rock! For sure! Sadly it won't be cask but still!

  2. Nice to see Sri Lankan Lion Stout and Nigerian Guinness in your list Mr Beeradventures. And points due for unfailling geeky stat overload...

    Its a shame theres no Magic Rock in Brum, but as I will identify in my next two posts, 4 out of the last 5 Magic Rock beers I have had have been very much under par. Perhaps the excellence of their first half of 2012 output simply couldn't be matched - in which case, perhaps they'd not be in you list anyway?

  3. Waggon & Horses, Halesowen has had 3 casks of Magic Rock since May so I'll have to operate some kind of craft beer siren to alert the masses for the next one and you can hop on the No9 bus.