A bumper round-up for the festive season. From the low- and no-alcohol lobby to an iconic US invasion and the punchiest number yet from our new Brewer of the Year – cheers!
Mikkeler, Drink’In The Sun
With more of a customary bitterness on the finish, this benefits from having wheat as well as barley malt, giving it an an enjoyable mid-palate. Brewed in Belgium for the flying Dutchman, this is one of numerous lower abv beers that Mikkeller boasts – check out the feature in our Winter issue for notes on a few others.
Anything else: The Mikkeller tribe not only talk the talk – healthy living that is – they run the run. The last four years has seen over 100 Mikkeller Running Clubs set up in Europe, over 30 of which are in the UK. Rick Astley and his crew even have one!
0.3%; £33.97/24x33cl; Euroboozer, 01923 263335
Lowlander, Ginger & Kaffir Lime, & Yuzu & Grapefruit
Lowlander is known for its skill in infusing beers with botanicals in an enticing rather than hard-hitting manner. So infusing beer with a medley of flavourful ingredients and special teas – Earl Grey in the Yuzu & Grapefruit, Darjeeling in our favourite the Ginger & Kaffir Lime – makes for a delightfully fragrant way of joining the low-alcohol brigade. The herbs and spices are well judged and the impact is refreshing. The Yuzu & Grapefruit has gose as its base, while the Ginger & Kaffir Lime puts wheat beer at its heart. With the latter, the nose certainly shows the spicy blend as does the palate, with a gingery kick on the finish.
Anything else: Ginger & Kaffir Lime was named Country Winner at the 2018 World Beer Awards.
2.5%; £42/24x33cl; James Clay, 01422 377 560
Fyne Ales, Easy Trail session IPA
On a recent trip to Scotland, I was lucky enough to score one of the first Fyne Ales cans – ever. Just launched in its new, farm-inspired attire, Easy Trail is more exuberant than its name might suggest with the freshness and vivacity of its hop notes. Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic sit beautifully on this session IPA. Green notes with a hint of Seville orange peel finish the experience alongside hints of pine resin.
Anything else: Fyne Ales new look takes its cues from its rural location, with the textures forming the backdrop to its can and bottling labels taken from around its farm home, a vast estate at the head of Loch Fyne.
4.2%; £18/12x33cl cans; Fyne Ales, 01499 600120
Robinsons, Kettlehead Choc Stout
To celebrate giving its oldest beer the Unicorn a facelift, Robinsons Brewery has launched a trio of new beers. Most appropriate for this chilly time is its very pleasant Kettlehead Choc Stout. Waves of dark chocolate on the palate lead to a chocolate orange/black coffee note on the finish. Medium bodied, with hints of cherries on the nose and a well judged sparkle, it’s perfect as a chocolate-dessert match. As ever, don't serve too chilled.
Anything else? Unicorn Copper Ale, a mere 122-years-old, is very versatile on the food front – think sausages, fish and chips, mushroom stroganoff.
4.5%; POA/12x50cl; Robinsons Brewery, 0161 612 4061
Cigar City, Jai Alai
Renowned Florida-based brewery Cigar City has joined forces with specialist beer distributor James Clay, kicking off with a trio of cans. Our favourite is the IPA Jai Alai with more pineapple and tangerine notes than its pale ale sibling and slightly less perceptible bitterness. Light caramel malt sits with a six-hop blend of medium intensity, a good sparkle and lengthy finish – this is good with food. Other members of the trio include the zesty, berry-laden Guyabera and the suitably named Invasion Tropical Pale Ale.
Anything else: Jai Alai is a thrilling game native to the Basque Country where players attempt to catch a ball travelling at speed – over 180mph – with a curved mitten.
7.5%; POA/24x35.5cl; 19.5 Sankey Keg; James Clay, 01422 377 560
Wild Card, DIPA
Finishing in style with this double IPA, the punchiest number yet from Jaega Wise, newly crowned Brewer of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers. Incredible fragrance, mangoes and pineapples aplenty, from generous double dry hopping of Mosaic and Citra. Cloudy in the glass, the creamy mouthfeel from wheat component tempers the dank element so it’s more like pineapple mousse on the palate. Ace with exotic salads and Thai cuisine, and that’s just for starters. Strikingly packaged with tarot-inspired designs by artist Valero Doval. One for Tryanuary rather than Dry January.
Anything else? Catch up with Jaega in our recent interview for more on her brewing ethos, her tv debut and the move to more 'specials' on the brewing side
8.1%; £68/24x44cl; Wild Card, 07771 650530