There was no shortage of beer earlier this week at Imbibe Live, but with the staggering number of different styles on offer and the rising number of one-off brews that vanish as quickly as they appear, the choice of what to put on your list can be daunting. To make things easier for you, we picked five that stood out for their quality and that will be readily available for the foreseeable future.
Cotswold Unfiltered Helles
Cotswold is a small brewery based in Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire that specialises in bottom-fermented beers. The brewery’s core range includes a low-abv lager, a light pils, a 5% abv premium lager and a hazy helles.
The Unfiltered Helles is the real winner of the range. A Munich-style lager that’s been left unfiltered resulting in a more textural mouthfeel compared to any widely available Bavarian counterpart. On the nose it’s elegantly floral, with complementing notes of bran and citrus fruit, while on the palate it shows malty flavours of hay, popcorn, bread and yellow stone fruit. A beer that you can drink all day, the kind of beer that no bar or pub business can survive without.
5% abv, Cotswold Brewery
Yeastie Boys Xerrex
We’re moving toward the other end of the quaffability spectrum here. Made with 100% peated malt from Inverness, Xerrex is the ultimate Marmite beer, one that promises to fuel debates. If you’re up for a barbecue in liquid form, then you’re likely to love it. If Islay whisky is the only Scotch you cannot cope with, perhaps stay away from it.
Needless to say, we love peat and we love the Xerrex even more. Smoke aromas are just a small slice of the whole story, though. There’s caramel, white stone fruit and citrus, plus hints of liquorice and prune on the palate. If a strong golden ale was made in Bamberg, this is what it would taste like. There’s also a subtle hop character from the use of Nelson Sauvin in the recipe, it’s a Kiwi beer after all.
10% abv, Yeastie Boys
Going back to the Germanic thread, this is another brew that can easily add quality, drinkability and reliability to any beer list. Once again it’s naturally cloudy – or naturtrüb as they say in Salzburg, the brewery’s home.
The high amount of what malt used in the recipe (weisse means white in German and describes a wheat malt-based beer) lends the brew considerable head retention and a pleasant creamy mouthfeel. Add gentle spiciness, high carbonation and a perfect sweetness-bitterness-acidity balance, and you’ve got the ideal match with food.
5.1% abv, Euroboozer
West Berkshire Maggs’ Mild
We talk so much about new no- and low-abv beers that we often forget there’s already plenty of traditional styles out there designed to quench the thirst of the mindful drinker.
Maggs’ Mild blends the drinkability of a lower-abv beer with the satisfying complexity of a dark ale. Think biscuit, liquorice and prune aromas with earthy and hoppy flavours to round it up. There’s enough material for a great food pairing here, a classic one would be with medium-hard cheeses.
3.5% abv, West Berkshire Brewery
Meteor Ale Bio
Alsace might be known more for its Riesling than it is for beer, though many drinks professionals often forget that the region’s Germanic ties mean its brewing history is just as significant. Brasserie Meteor, run by the same family since 1640 now in its eighth generation, is without a doubt part of such history. The brewery produces a wide range of beers, from classic lagers to more experimental, craft-inspired brews.
The one that really caught our eyes is Ale Bio, a smooth and fairly hoppy saison. Big in estery and spicy flavours, it’s a lot more saison-y than any farmhouse ale produced on this side of the Channel. A liquid depiction of country life in the summertime.
5.5% abv, Brasserie Meteor