BeerCast #56 – Beer of the Year 2010

Posted by on Jan 6, 2011 in Beer of the Year, BeerCasts | No Comments

The first podcast of any year is always one to look forward to – as tradition dictates it’s our BeerCast Beer of the Year show. As highlighted in our recent preview, the four highest scoring beers we could find from the podcasts recorded in 2010 are re-sampled, and a winner picked. Previous winners are Anchor Christmas Ale 2006 (2007), Hop Back Summer Lightning (2008) and Stone Ruination IPA (last year), so whichever beer came out on top this time, it would be in good company. Re-tasting is always an interesting experience, as a second go often brings a different result from last time – and so it was to prove. The four beers in our BOTY show were Tryst Raj IPA (5.5%), Odell Isolation Ale (6.1%), Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%), and BrewDog Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%). On the extended panel – Shovels, MrB, Andy, Richard, Jess, Grooben and a debut for panellist Katie, all of whom were seconded to a remote location to sharpen the tastebuds…

1. Raj IPA (5.5%abv) 500ml glass bottle
Tryst Brewery, Larbert, Scotland.
BeerCast#49 scored 32½/40 (81%) 3rd June 2010
Originally tasted by Richard ; Grooben 8; Shovels 8; MrB 8

What They Say“This India Pale Ale marks a slight change in direction of Tryst Ales, away from low alcohol session ales to rather more substantial and serious Real Ale. This IPA is hopped with three popular British hops to produce a deep lingering taste, complementing the underlying malts for a memorable pint.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Jess – It’s quite sour and strong but I really like it
Grooben – Has a great balance of bitterness and sweetness
MrB – A great Scottish session IPA
Richard – Lot of bitterness from the three hop types
Katie – It’s maybe too bitter but I’d have it again
Shovels – I’d drop it to a 7½ but it’s still good
Andy – Tastes like old shoes that have been left in the garage

2. Isolation Ale (6.1%abv) 355ml glass bottle
Odell Brewing Co, Fort Collins, Colorado.
BeerCast#55 scored 33/40 (83%) 22nd December 2010
Originally tasted by Shovels ; MrB ; Grooben 8; Richard 8

What They Say“Available each winter from the first of November until it runs out, Isolation ale is amber in color, malty and strong. We consider it a traditional winter warmer, without the addition of fruits or spices.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Andy – Needs no tweaking as the balance is perfect
Richard – Malty and fruity, with almost a caramel sweetness
Jess – It’s almost nutty, absolutely delicious
Grooben – Odell beers are always very well balanced
Shovels – Their beers have that fantastic aftertaste
Katie – I’d definitely have this again in the Autumn
MrB – Odell just don’t make a bad beer

3. Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%abv) 330ml glass bottle
Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
BeerCast#52 scored 34/40 (85%) 27th October 2010
Originally tasted by MrB 9; Richard 9; Shovels 8; Grooben 8

What They Say“American hops meet English malt. Burnished golden colour. Aromas of tropical fruits, hints of grass. The sweetness of the malt gives them the impression of fruit salad on the palate, juicy, then followed up with a big bitterness, with some pepper and spice.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Katie – There’s a bit of floral that balances the bitterness
Richard – Fantastic piney IPA smell, it’s outstanding
MrB – I don’t want to drink this, I want to savour it
Shovels – A really fantastic IPA
Grooben – Balanced so it doesn’t taste crazy for 7%
Jess – I prefer this to the Raj IPA
Andy – Would be difficult to drink a lot given the strength

4. Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%abv) 375ml glass bottle
BrewDog Ltd, Fraserburgh, Scotland.
BeerCast#50 scored 32½/40 (81%) 16th July 2010
Originally tasted by Shovels ; Richard ; MrB ; Grooben 7

What They Say“Abstrakt will only ever brew and release a beer once. BrewDog’s Abstrakt is about exciting, progressive and conceptual beers, beers which not only push the boundaries but smash them up completely.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – You can taste the vanilla more, but I still like it
Grooben – Sweetness has taken over, it’s a bit one-note now
Richard – The flavours have definitely developed with aging
MrB – I’m trying to work out why I gave it 8½, I don’t like it
Jess – First taste it lovely, but it gets overpoweringly sweet
Andy – I like sweet beers but that’s some sugary ass sh*t
Katie – I can taste some liquorice and parma violets

So that was the thoughts – or re-thoughts – of the panel during the tasting of the four beers that had made it through to the final. The next thing to do was go round the table and give a first and second choice for beer of the year, plus a beer each that we enjoyed over 2010 and felt deserved a special mention…

“For me, Isolation Ale was outstanding, and then the Kernel IPA. The best beer I had this year was a Wherry’s in Norfolk, from local brewer Woodforde’s, that I really enjoyed.”

“My two picks are Isolation Ale and then Kernel. My beer pick for 2010 was Wold Top Gold – a blonde ale on tap and in the bottle is very good.”

“First choice is Isolation then Raj IPA. I’ve drunk more Sierra Nevada than anything else this year but also enjoyed St Lupulin and Wold Gold after a bike ride.”

“Kernel C.S.C., it has to be – because it’s the best one. My second choice is Raj IPA. My beer of note would have to be Tripel de Garre in Bruges.”

“It’s really really close, but Isolation number one and Kernel number two by a very small margin. I can’t think of any beers that have busted my chops – but discovering lambics has been interesting and my mind is starting to open to Belgian ales.”

“Isolation Ale was a country mile ahead of the others, Kernel IPA second. My beer of note would have to be Shovel’s homebrew 6D.”

“My favourite from tonight and my beer of the year was Kernel IPA – I love Evin’s approach to brewing. My second is Abstrakt because I love how it has changed character over the months. My notable beer is also Tripel de Garre – probably my favourite beer of all time.”

The comments during the tasting made it look like a close run thing – but when it came to the judging there was a runaway winner. Five of our seven panellists went for the same first pick, making Odell’s Isolation Ale (6.1%) our 2010 BeerCast beer of the year. Congratulations to Doug and the team, their amber malty winter warmer is the fourth winner of our BOTY – and interestingly the third American beer to come out on top. Kernel IPA CSC (7.1%) came out second, with unfortunately the local entrants in third and fourth. Maybe 2011 will be the year a Scottish beer comes out on top…

Our panel also tasted a fifth beer – a surprise bought by Richard and smuggled to the podcasting under the strictest secrecy. On the Isle of Wight, the Yates brewery have combined with a nearby garlic farm to produce a 4.1% Garlic Beer. Listen to our tasting after the BOTY voting, and check back to the website in a few days for a full review post on a beer that truly united the panel…

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #56 – Beer of the Year 2010
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