Time to reflect on 2011 and the beer I enjoyed over the year.
2011 for me was all about enjoying my beer (less about note taking or blogging), and there were plenty to enjoy. Keeping this list down to a top ten took quite a bit of contemplation and editing. This is the ten beers I enjoyed the most in 2011.
Yeasty Boys – Rex Attitude
Love it or hate it (it seems there is no middle ground), there's no denying its huge impact in 2011. I loved it for its attitude and crazy whisky flavours.
Dales Amber Ale
A delightfully balanced, almost understated brew with a great hop profile. Keep up the good work Dale.
This was my go-to beer the weekend of Beervana. It was all over town. Its brain tingling zinginess set the tone for my weekend.
Any best of list needs a Emersons brewers reserve. This was my pick - brown, thick, creamy, rich and delicious.
Galbraiths/Croucher Pale Ale.
I really enjoyed the cask brew series at Galbraiths, this Croucher collaboration was my favourite. A fruity, hoppy, hand pulled masterpiece. I wish I could have had more but it sold out very quickly.
Epic Epicurean Coffee & Fig Oatmeal Stout
This was my Christmas day beer. It really hit the spot. I found its combination of coffee, toast and fruit flavours, incredible.
Yeasty Boys – Hud-a-wa (#1)
I loved this beer. Its sweet toffee and spice kept me warm during the long winter and I was sad to see it changed (even though the second iteration is growing on me).
Yeasty Boys – Her Majesty 2011 Saison
A lot of brewers did tricks with Saison yeast in 2011. This is the one I enjoyed the most - fresh, spicy goodness.
A superband-like collaboration. A no holds barred tribute to the hop. My tongue is still tingling.
My number one beer of 2011 is Liberty Citra. Liberty Brewing's Joseph Wood is some kind of brewing genius. He had his hand in some fantastic collaborations this year including; Hopocalypse, Taranaki Pale Ale (with Mikes) and Motueka Warrior (with Yeasty Boys), but it was his solo effort, Citra, that I enjoyed the most.
I first tried Liberty Citra at Beervana and was very impressed, but didn’t find it again until it was recently released in the bottle. I'm pleased I did. It pours a rich, glowing gold. The aroma is phenomenal - orange and lemon peel, gooseberry, pine, light grass and soft spice. The flavour is dry and tangy with a zesty, bitter finish. The mouth feel is round, smooth and oily.
It was a great year for the New Zealand beer enthusiast. Brew Bars and Free Houses have multiplied (even Auckland now has a handful of craft beer bars to choose from). A number of home brewers made the step up to commercial brewing with some great results - keep up the good work Garage Project, Parrot Dog, Dales, Shippers and Golden Ticket. My second home, Galbraiths did some great work with brewers from around the country in the cask brew series.
The American hop shortage encouraged more use of local hops with some fantastic results – Tuatara Aotearoa Pale Ale especially. Epic continued to produce the goods, seeing the six Epic taps at the Larger launch (and trying them all at least once), was almost a religious experience. The Emersons Brewers Reserves were spectacular and The Yeasty Boys continue to boldly go where no craft beer has gone before. Let's hope 2012 can be as good.
Brewnation would be interested to hear what your favourite New Zealand brews of 2011 were.
Happy New Year,