These are my current favourites, but they’re in no particular order. They are all incredible, as are many other beers. But, at present, these are the favourite ten beers that I have been able to try in recent months. This list will change continually as I try new and exciting beers in more and more places around the world.

  1. Omnipollo x Buxton Yellow Belly – An incredible beautiful beer that can only be described as the nectar of the gods. Sadly no longer in production. If you can get yourself a bottle cherish and enjoy it. To me, it’s the Rolls Royce of imperial stouts. Beautiful flavours of smooth, rich milk chocolate; thick, treacly peanut butter and smoked undertones of coffee and malt. It creates a perfect thick, rich blend that results in a beer that almost resembles a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in flavour and, even in thickness. This beaut is 11% ABV so drink sparingly – and don’t share! Sadly no longer made this beauty was available from www.buxtonbrewery.co.uk
  2. It isn’t necessarily number two but Tiny Rebel Stay Puft is such a damn good quality beer for a core beer in a can. Anyone who likes a craft stout or porter really can’t miss trying a can of this. Sub 6% ABV, you’ll love the beautifully soft and subtle flavour that leaves your tastebuds tingling. To me, even though it is a marshmallow porter, it tastes like a decadently smooth chocolate and raspberry jam mix. I know it sounds a bit strange – but hear me out. That beautiful malt backing provides a rich chocolate hit with that secondary ensemble of raspberry jam flavour. Admittedly, that means that the taste of marshmallow is lost in the beer, but what do you expect? It’s a porter. It soaks up the subtle sweet hints to create something simple but incredibly good. A beautiful core beer available all year round from www.tinyrebel.co.uk
  3. Loka Polly Chinook Mosaic DIPA – Honestly one of the best double IPA’S I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. Loka Polly is a brewery that I encountered when I began working for “Beer Ambleside.” I must say their flavours have stuck with me. Packed full of fresh fruity tones, these hoppy beers tend to pack a punch be it a pale ale or one of their legendary DIPAS. This is my personal favourite, with oodles of grapefruit and pomegranate flavour backed up by the sweet citrus juice burst that comes from Mosaic hops. Fresh orange and lime kick this brew up a notch and make it feel like a beer that isn’t as strong as it is. But a word of warning, don’t try and session it; the hangover feels like its worth it – but its not. Sadly, no longer available, although new iterations are being produced throughout the year and are available from the Loka Polly online store at www.lokapolly.co.uk
  4. Tarn Hows x Redbank Coffee Guji I might be a bit biased here as this is the microbrewery that I work for. When this is good – it’s very good – probably the best coffee stout that I’ve drunk (and I’ve drunk a few now), especially considering the ABV of the beer. A very easy going and refreshing 5.4%. It has a beautiful roast malt backbone with hints of coffee throughout. As it goes down you get the slightest hint of bitterness you’d expect from a coffee stout. Small amounts of lactose add a nice level of smoothness to the beer, almost giving it a silky feel in your mouth. Extremely quaff-able but don’t drink too much otherwise the term “beer belly” will become a reality!! Sadly just a single batch beer that this brewery will not produce again. However, their Blueberry and Vanilla stout is just as good and is available from their beer shops in Ambleside or Cockermouth. Just go onto www.beergb.com
  5. Wander Beyond Octopod. Gosh, this beer is just something else! An imperial milkshake IPA with mango and passion fruit, something the brewing world had never experienced before and definitely something I had never experienced before. It looks, smells and tastes like alcoholic mango smoothie. At the time, it was one of the most expensive beers I had ever bought – with a price equivalent to my student loan for a year. But it was well worth it. Honestly, this beer tasted like a mango milkshake; there was not crazy malt backbone, no bitterness. It just looked and smelled like mango juice, the only giveaway was the intense hop flavor that was left at the bottom of the can. At 12% ABV its not for the faint-hearted, but my Mum knocked her share of the can back pretty fast. The second generation of this beer ‘Nautiloid’ has recently been released so I’m looking forward to trying more! Check out www.wanderbeyondbrewing.com to see what new beers they are coming up with.
  6. Mean Sardine Tordesiilhas Imperial Stout. The name is a hell of a mouthful but it’s also one hell of a beer. It’s probably one of the best imperial stouts I have had from Europe so far, in my beer adventures. I owe it all to my parents and their foolhardiness in inviting me to join them on a 2-week cruise around the Med to celebrate their birthdays. Insert a stop in Lisbon, Portugal, and my Dad’s suggestion of trying to find a craft beer bar in every port and we end up here… Well sort of. Down a back alley in a taproom called “OutroLado” with a wonderful bartender and 40 euros of imperial stouts at my disposal. Mean Sardine, one of the coolest named breweries ever, and their Habanero Chilli, Chocolate and Vanilla imperial stout. Now I freely admit I am not a man with a pallet for spicy things but, damn, this was good! Super smooth, with just subtle hints of spice. This imperial stout is a force to be reckoned with, not because it’s strong – but because the flavour was so intense. At the time of writing, my mouth is salivating for another bottle of that beautiful brew. Alas, I will have to wait a while longer for my next taste of chocolate chilli surprise.
  7. Grahame Pearce Sant Climent Lager. My friends would never expect to find a lager on my list. I am just as surprised as they will be. Again, another treat from my travels on that beautiful boat courtesy of my parents. Purchased in Mahon, a small Spanish island, that had a lovely little beer shop just at the top of the hill from the port. Literally at the time of drinking this I was sat in a beach chair with my feet resting out of the bar’s window watching the world go by. This lager is just sublime and puts every other lager I have drunk to shame. Pure and simple, fresh, easy going and fruity as hell. It had an incredible depth of flavour, every ingredient could be tasted from the malty backbone to the fresh, light zesty tones from the hops; it was just lovely, especially on ice. It wasn’t heavy or gassy, like a lot of lagers, making me think this modern style lager will be the perfect garden barbecue addition. Add fresh burgers and cheese for additional flavour. Honestly I like this lager so much I don’t want to let anyone else know where to have it. It is all mine muhahaha!
  8. Black Lab Brewing Blueberry Sundae. Thanks to a weekend in Barcelona, courtesy of my parents (again!) I found out just what the Barcelona craft beer culture is all about. And I must say it is incredible. So many places and so little time, out of the 12 or 13 brewpubs, taprooms and bars we visited over two days Black Lab was the stand out for me. The atmosphere was awesome with an open floor plan, a brewery to the left side and the bar dead in the centre. Each beer had its own little chalk board graphic to add to the style. Blueberry Sundae was my first choice for a midday beer because I love imperial stout. Upon the first sip of this beer I realised I had found my true love… A little corny – but wait until you try it and your world will be turned upside down. Super sweet, thick, rich and creamy. The only easy way to describe the incredible flavour of this beer is to say its like a Cadbury’s chocolate mini roll covered in blueberry jam. It’s just the ultimate beer pairing! It’s the first beer that my Mum has ever try to steal off me because it’s soo good. Even my Dad (who is allergic to alcohol) had a few sips more than he should. A wonderful highlight to my Barcelona trip, I had to go back the next day to sample some more. I will be back with buckets to drink from next time!! If you’re lucky enough to try it when your out there or want to know where to get it check out www.blacklab.es/en
  9. Fallen DBL Barrel Chew Chew was one of the first beers that began to convert my Mum from an occasional lager drinker into a stout drinker. She has always said she isn’t the biggest fan of beer but she’ll now happily knock back a few stouts in an evening with me. And Fallen’s DBL Barrel Chew Chew is a definite favourite with both of us. I would call it a simple beer but that wouldn’t do it justice. No imperial stout is simple; the brewing process behind them is costly and time consuming. But the results seem like they are almost effortless. This beauty of a beer is a once a year brew produced by Fallen. It’s a barrel aged version of their all year round ‘Chew Chew’ A salted caramel stout that is great in its own right. But this is better. All of the beautiful sweet caramel flavour, with the rich smoky texture of a bourbon barrel and the thick treacle mouth feel of an imperial stout. As my Mum said to me, its like a blanket of caramel inside your mouth. It leaves you with a smokey caramel flavour in your mouth long after finishing it. To me, this is perfect and it sums up what beer is all about – the complexity of flavour that stays with you long after you’ve drink it. I can enjoy this beer either on a freezing ski slope or in the middle of summer and still feel like I am drinking it for the first time. Available from Beer Ambleside or from www.fallenbrewing.co.uk
  10. Cloudwater Chubbles. If you’ve never had this you will be in Chubbles! Cloudwater has always been known for smashing out some insane beers from time to time and, by time to time I mean every season. Chubbles is just one of those beers. A triple IPA that packs serious punch – but if you drank it you wouldn’t know it. Brewed in collaboration with The Vail Brewery it has a beautiful mango flavour with ripe dark fruit undertones. Subtle hints of booziness come through that start to give some insight into how high the ABV of this beer actually is. It’s surprisingly full of flavour for something as strong as it is – but actually, I’m not surprised. During my time in the beer industry I have had many people say that high ABV beers lack depth of flavour. When I started to try the higher ABV beers I found this surprising because, in my experience, the higher ABV beers always seemed to have deeper, more complex flavours. Tim’s rule of beer Number 1: The stronger it is, the more taste it has – and this is a beer that lives up to that rule. I have seen many a review saying that this is the best beer in the world. Although I may not quite agree with that myself, I will definitely say it is by far and away the best triple IPA I have ever had. I warn you now – it is a seasonal brew, meaning once a year. Once it’s gone its gone. But when you get it you’ll be happy you’ve tried it. When available you can get this beaut from www.cloudwaterbrew.co or www.honestbrew.com