Top Beers of 2010

I thought I would make a note of my Top 10 beers of 2010 so I don’t forget my favourites. But picking out just 10 beers proved a bit too difficult, so I ended up with a long list which I managed to edit down to 15; I just couldn’t get it any lower. So here they are, my Top 15 beers of 2010 (not particularly in order of preference, that’s just too difficult to do):

Oakham Citra, 4.2% – Pale and grapefruity, bursting with Citra hops, very light and drinkable
Oakham Tranquility , 6.5% – Strong, highly hopped,  citrussy and very powerful
Bungtingford Imperial Pale Ale, 6.2% – Absolutely delicious. Full of American hops. I need say no more
Buntingford Chinook, 4% – Golden ale with American hops, grapefruity and very moorish
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, 5% – Full of Cascade hops, an easy-to-drink, sweet beer
Rogue Dry Hopped St Rogue Red , 5.2% – Red ale and bursting with hops and a piney taste sensation
Stone Levitation, 4.4% – Similar taste to the Rogue with the piney hop flavour, but not as strong. Loaded with a variety of American hops
Odell St Lupulin EPA, 6.5%- Delicately dry hopped and gentle, a pleasure to drink. Lovely beer label too.
BrewDog Punk IPA, 6% – A beer that smacks you in the face. Lots of NZ and USA hops, fruity, floral, zesty – an assault on the senses. Love it.
BrewDog Trashy Blonde, 4.1% – A weaker, not so face-smackingly blatant as Punk IPA, but light and delicious and bursting with hop flavour. Punk’s little sister. That’s how I see it, anyway.
Red Squirel White Mountain APA, 5.4%  – I loved this beer at the Cambridge Beer Festival 2010, it was my beer of the fest. Full of Golding and Cascade hop flavour and aroma. Lovely.
St Austell Proper Job, 4.5% – Golden and light, full of American hops, citrussy and thirst quenching. Very easy to drink.
Thornbridge Halcyon, 7.7% – Imperial IPA, so strong, how could I have drank it as quickly as I did?! Green hopped, fruity, utterly delicious. Intensely powerful.
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, 5.9% – Smooth but bursting with citrussy hoppy bitterness. Easy to drink fast.
Thornbridge Kipling, 5.2% – Jaipur’s little sister. Intense grapefruit aroma and flavour, sweet, fruity and hoppy. My second favourite ale at the CBF.

So that’s it for my 2010 beers. I’ll be surprised if some of these amazing ales don’t make it onto my 2011 list in 364 days time.  But there’s plenty of time for lots of new brews to come my way, and I look forward to them finding me! Oh, and it’s the Cambridge Winter Ale Festival on 20-22nd January in the USC on Mill Lane. See you there, and Happy New Year!

Cambridge Octoberfest 2010

My Octoberfest did not involve me drinking any German beers.  Let’s get that straight from the start.  Do I feel bad about that? Maybe, a little. But to be perfectly honest I don’t enjoy drinking lager style beers, so however tasty some may find German Octoberfest beers,  I just prefer ale. So read on if you want to hear about a few incredibly tasty English ales present at the Cambridge Octoberfest, but if you are looking for a review on Schlenkerla Marzen or Augustinian beers, then you have come to the wrong place. Sorry.

Onto the Octoberfest, held at the University Social Club on Mill Lane. The event held on 15th and 16th October was not as big as the Winter Ale fest, held in the same venue; it’s small and intimate, and there were about 30 beers available which is pretty good, I think.

Octoberfest beers

First up was Buntingford’s Polar Star, a lovely light and very hoppy golden beer at 4.4%. This beer was a wonderful way to start the afternoon, with its sherbet hop aroma, thanks to the lovely USA hops used, making it very very drinkable.  Next I tried Milton’s Prometheus, but although this was very nice, grapefruity and strong at 6%, I decided to go for another Buntingford, the Imperial Pale Ale. I can’t remember if I have raved about this beer before, but if not, why not?  It’s amazing, incredible, hoppy, and strong, at 6.2%.  I actually had this beer at the Cambridge Blue’s Octoberfest the previous week, and this was the beer of the fest for me.

The next beer was Hop Fest (4.6%) by Hop Back. I was disappointed by this beer, particulary as I am a fan of their Summer Lightning.  It was eggy, astringent, and not quite the ‘hop fest’ that I was hoping for. I don’t actually remember tasting  many hops at all. The aroma put me off immediately, and the guys on the table next to us also bought some and they felt the same way about it. What a shame.

Then I had some lovely Tydd Steam Barn Ale at only 3.9%. Ooh a wonderful beer to finish off with – similar to the Polar Star; light, hoppy, citrussy, and very moorish.

Whilst I am talking about Octoberfest beers, I must add that on a trip to the wonderful Elm Tree, I had some Dark Star Oktoberfest, 5.2%, which was incredible, loaded with hops. Fantastic.  I will also be popping by at the end of the month for Hallowe’en, they do a great job decorating the pub with pumpkins and witches and bats everywhere. I think there will be scary stories too from the Travelling Talesman too on Hallowe’en itself. And most certainly there will be a good few Hallowe’en-themed beers on tap too.

The Cambridge Winter Ale fest is on 20th-22th January 2011 at the same venue. See you there – I’ll be the one drinking the hoppiest beer in the building.

The Cambridge Chop House

It was great to discover that the Cambridge Chop House on Kings Parade serves local real ales straight from the cask. This is more of a restaurant than pub, serving classic British cuisine (and it’s not particularly cheap, but this is Cambridge for you, and you are right in tourist central) but you can just go and order a beer or two without food if you like. The beers available on my last couple of visits were from the Milton Brewery; they had Sparta, Dionysus and Pegasus. Dionysus is my favourite, being very hoppy and only 3.6% – an ideal daytime beer! Sparta is pretty good too at 4.3%, it’s just a bit more bitter. I have also seen Buntingford ales available there as well (Buntingford’s Western Musketeer is a favourite of mine, one that I nominated as beer of the festival at the Cambridge Beer Festival). The location is great too, you can grab a table outside the restaurant with a fantastic view of Kings College and sip on your beer watching the world – mostly tourists and language students at this time of year – go by.

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