Picking your favorite beer can be a bit like choosing a favorite son or daughter:
You’ve nurtured those babies, gone through a lot together, and you’re proud of each and every single one.
Well, alright, it’s not quite the same, but you get the picture – it’s tricky.
Beer is incredibly diverse; there are so many different styles, and the chances are you have multiple “favorite beers”. Your tipple of choice might even change with the seasons (I know mine does), and undoubtedly your opinion of ‘good beer’ has changed over the years, too.
More often than not, though, we can usually recall at least one or two stand-out pints; those ah-ha moments, those beers that made your eyes open a little wider. You know, the reliable old faithful, go-to frothy suds we can always rely on to deliver.
At TA Brews, we can certainly think of a few top notch brews, and today, we’re going to share them with you. Afterward, we’d also love to hear about your favorite beer.
OK, so I struggled to narrow this down to just one – it’s just too hard – but I have managed to narrow my selection down to just a couple of beers for different seasons. Here goes:
Hook Norton – Double Stout
I’ve written about this beer before in our post to celebrate beer day Britain. It gains pride of place as one of my favorite beers during the winter, and for good reason.
Based on a 100-year-old recipe, stouts don’t get much more authentic than this. I just can’t get enough of the rich, warming, dark roast coffee flavor of this beer during the cooler months – it’s a real comfort blanket. Being bottle conditioned, it’s also an excellent substitute for cask ale for those nights when you just can’t face the weather on the way to your local pub.
Before I tried this beer, my experience of stout hadn’t really progressed much further than Guinness and maybe an offering from Marstons; they were ok, but they really lack the robust characters of an authentic traditional recipe. Most of all, they lack roasted malt flavor and bitterness; they go for this ‘silk in a glass’ thing. For me, though, it’s all about the borderline burnt flavors – silk belongs in the lingerie draw.
Thornbridge – Jaipur India Pale Ale
Saved for the summer months, my second selection plays to my hoppier side. I love an IPA; they’re probably my favorite all-around style, but I’ve chosen this one in particular because it’s so well balanced.
It definitely uses a large amount of new world hops (Centennial and Amarillo), but it doesn’t quite push to the extremes of a West Coast American style IPA. Instead, it’s one of the most balanced examples of the style I’ve come across. It has just enough zing and zest, with just enough soft sweetness to round out the flavor.
I like a powerfully hoppy beer as much as the next beer geek, but most of the time, I actually prefer something a bit more balanced. I liken it to a very hot curry; you don’t necessarily want vindaloo every day. Jaipur represents my perfect ideal when it comes to hoppy beers.
Over to you Ponto.
Thanks Marc! Similarly to you, I also had a rather tough go of narrowing it down to my single most favourite hoppy, malty creation. However, unlike you, my preference doesn’t change with the season, only with availability and mood.
As Marc, and many others, would attest to over many late nights with several bottles of Hobgoblin, I have stated, “mythical creatures make the beer.” Thor (Norse god of thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, and strength, well known for wielding his unimaginably heavy and powerful hammer, Mjölnir) holds this statement true. With this in mind, Central City Brewers and Distillers have made a more human approximation of this great mythology and put it into a glass.
This barleywine sits at a mighty 11% and can smash you harder than Thor himself, if you’re not careful. The flavour and alcohol content compliment each other quite well and is well received in small doses. This definitely isn’t a sessionable drink, unless you are intending to nurse an 8 oz. glass for over an hour, but it is extremely complex and offers a new experience of flavor each time you try it. Now, I did say that season doesn’t affect my choice, that may be a bit in the gray when it comes to Thor’s Hammer. This is really because Thor’s Hammer is not available year round. So, when it becomes available, I tend to get all I can, within reason.
The first time I tried Thor’s Hammer, I have to admit, I didn’t like it. It was far too potent compared to what I was used to drinking at the time. However, even though I didn’t like it, there was something about it that drew me back the next time it was around. I’m not sure if it was having a more developed palate or changes in the recipe, but after that, I had to have more.
Backhand of God Stout
This is truly a smooth, dry, and bold social drink. Social because Crannog Ales only sells their old world ales in kegs and, realistically, you’re not going to get one yourself, you’ll instead travel to your local pub and have a few with some friends. This really does speak to the “old world” aspect, when bottles and cans were not available and you had to visit a pub for a drink.
I was first introduced to Backhand of God during a going away party at Rogue, a bar in downtown Vancouver that is inside the last SkyTrain station on the Expo Line. Since then, it has always reminded me of my friends and the good times we’ve had, many of them, at a pub.
Now that we’ve told you about our favorite brews, we want to know about yours. Tell us what makes it “your beer” and why. There are many great stories out there surrounding a pint.
If you haven’t already, take a look at Marc’s story about his first “real” pint and share you story there too!