It’s that time of year again when we look back at the best beers we tried over the last 12 months.
The typical caveats apply – the list only includes beers we’ve actually tried, beers we purchased in 2019 (nothing we’ve had stored away in the cellar – and by cellar, I mean back of the wardrobe), and beers we acquired within the UK/Ireland.
No doubt there are countless beers that could’ve made the list that we didn’t get a chance to try and I’m sure this list would look very different if we were based in a different part of the world – we tried some amazing beers when we were in San Francisco but what’s the point listing some super obscure micro-brew that you have to take a twelve hour flight to sample?
1. Wylam – Greenbutt Skunk
We didn’t try this one until the beginning of December but Greenbutt Skunk just managed to sneak in and steal top spot on our list.
Wylam consistently produce amazing beers and this was our favourite from this Newcastle-based brewery in 2019; Greenbutt Skunk is an 8.4% DIPA – a full-on weedy, grassy, intensely hopped beer that is the very definition of dank.
This beer tastes and smells like you’d be as likely to get high from it as you would drunk – and is that Pepé Le Pew with a hop-cone for a tail on the can?!
2. Verdant – Putty
Originally brewed as a one-off for the awesome Hop City beer festival in 2017, Putty has become a much-sought after annual release.
Verdant are one of the UK’s most consistent brewers when it comes to hoppy, hazy IPAs and DIPAs, and Putty is their finest example of that – a perfectly balanced blend of pine, peach and tropical flavours brewed with more hops than any of their other beers so far.
We tried this for the first time as it turned up in our Mikkeller Beer Club subscription box at the beginning of 2019 – you can sign up for 50% off your first box here.
Putty’s 2020 edition came out within the last couple of weeks, so if you’re lucky, you might still find a can or two in the wild. It’s worth seeking out.
3. Baghaven – Pántáo (Blend 1)
Baghaven (translates as “the Backyard”) is where Mikkeller’s brewers experiment with wild ales, barrel-aging and mixed fermentations.
Our introduction to Baghaven again came from the Mikkeller Beer Club in the form of Pántáo, a wine-barrel fermented Danish Wild Ale aged on fresh white Saturn peaches.
Intensely face-puckering, incredibly sour but so more-ish with the peach flavour shining through. Usually your taste buds get used to sour beers after the first few sips but not with this one, it’s effervescence tingles on the tongue – equally stunning on the final sip as it was on the first.
4. Omnipollo & The Veil – Tefnut (w/ Raspberries)
Omnipollo are Stockholm’s finest purveyors of quirky beers, forever pushing the boundaries with adjuncts and experimental ingredients. The Veil, from Richmond, Virginia, focus on hop-forward beers but are also fond of experimenting – so it should come as no surprise that when they collaborate, magic happens.
Tefnut (with Raspberries) was the first edition of Tefnut – which has since seen a number of variants – and was our beer of the festival at Cloudwater’s Friends & Family & Beer festival in 2019.
A triple fruited gose weighing in at a hefty 11% – but it just tasted like a glorious fruit smoothie. Told you it was magic.
5. North Brewing Co & Browar Stu Mostów – White Guava & Raspberry
In truth, we could’ve picked any of North’s triple fruited goses and included them in this list, such was the quality of their releases in this particular style in 2019, but we went for the White Guava & Raspberry as our favourite.
Although it’s only 4.8%, it packs bags of flavour, and could well be the little brother of Omnipollo’s Tefnut – a sesh Tefnut.
6. Mikkeller – Spontanhexadrupelraspberry
It turns out we really like raspberries, huh? This is the third beer in a row on the list packed full of them.
Mikkeller‘s spontan series always delivers, and I guess they’ve crammed six times the amount of berries in as they did for spontanraspberry, first time round.
It’s a super acidic, mega tart, raspberry ripple of a beer. It’s not going to be a beer you can pick up easily, unfortunately – we tried it at Cloudwater’s Friends & Family & Beer 2019 and we’re looking forward to seeing what surprises Mikkeller have in store for this year’s festival.
7. Amundsen Bryggeri – Zygoat
Consistently knocking it out of the park with the likes of their Dessert in a Can series, Zygoat is one of their finest examples – a 10.5% salted caramel, chocolate chip cookie imperial stout.
A decadent, super sweet dessert beer that nails all the flavours listed on the can.
8. Burning Sky – Saison de Pêche
Burning Sky are probably the UK’s finest brewers of experimental sours, using traditional techniques that involve slower yeasts and long maturation times.
Saison de Pêche is, rather unsurprisingly, a peach saison. It’s so much more than that though – it’s a sensational crisp peach beer; super clean, tart and perfectly balanced.
I don’t typically like saisons and this is in my top 10 beers of 2019… that’s how good it is.
9. Boundary – What a Time to be Alive
Boundary are a Belfast based co-operative brewery – this is the beer that’s been brewed closest to us geographically, just a few miles up the road.
What a Time to be Alive was a 10% Triple IPA, brewed to celebrate Boundary’s fourth birthday, back in May 2019.
Boundary have gone from strength to strength over the years, really upping their game in terms of quality as well as quantity, so we’re really excited to see what 2020 holds for our local favourites.
10. DEYA – Meet Me in the City
Cheltenham’s DEYA are right at the top of the list when it comes to brewers of the UK’s finest hazy IPAs. Our hope for 2020 is for their beers to get wider distribution as we sometimes struggle to get our hands on them.
The list above includes DIPAs, TIPAs, sours and stouts, but Meet Me in the City is the best straight-up IPA we tried in 2019.
Massively dry-hopped with Citra Cryo and Galaxy hops – a mega hoppy, super smooth beer. It’s a best-in-class example of a juice bomb / hazy banger / insert-buzz-word here.
So there you have it – our Top 10 Craft Beers of 2019. What was your favourite beer last year? What did we miss out?
Leave us a comment below with your recommendations, and let us know which breweries you think are going to blow us away in 2020.