As things wind down over Christmas, the attention at BeerCast HQ turns towards our annual Beer of the Year Show. We tally up the scores achieved by each ale podcasted over the last twelve months, and take the four highest scoring for a re-sample. Which beer will follow on from Odell Isolation Ale and become our BOTY for 2011? Our BeerCasts this year featured 43 different beers, but only four can make it to the BOTY show. Well, four including ties…
Our first finalist is the highest scoring beer of 2011 – Kernel IPA Citra (7.2%). This is the second time that one of Evin O’Riordain’s India Pale Ales has made our BOTY show – last year the excellent IPA C.S.C. (Centennial, Simcoe, Chinook) made it, although it was beaten into second place by the winner from Odell. Since then, the Kernel’s Citra showcase beer wowed us with it’s hop flavour, scoring 91% in BeerCast #59. This makes it the third-highest scoring beer in our history (behind two other IPA’s, from Caldera and Stone). Yeah, we’re unashamed hop fans.
Next up for this year’s BOTY Show (in order of the scores they received), we have a tie. With scores of 87% – Thornbridge St Petersburg (7.7%) and Het Anker Gouden Carolus Christmas (10.5%). The first of these is from a UK brewery that needs little introduction to British beer fans. Bakewell’s Thornbridge have been producing quality products for years – and their Russian Imperial Stout St Petersburg is no exception. Sampled on our 7.5% and over duty protest BeerCast #64, the rich, deep flavours made a huge impression on us – and it takes a deserved place in the final.
The second of those beers was one of the undoubted surprises of the year. Our Christmas Specials have produced finalists before – three years out of four (with two going on to win our coveted Beer of the Year). So maybe having a festive beer scoring so highly shouldn’t have taken us aback – but Het Anker’s Christmas beer really did. It had the perfect balance of Belgian flavours and winter notes, with a generous helping of alcohol. Even Shovels – notorious for not ‘getting’ Belgian beer, gave it a 9/10. That was very much the surprise of the year – but one well-deserved.
So that gives us three of our four finalists. Trouble is, we then have another tie for the last spot in our BOTY show. What to do? Well – how about extending the final to five challengers, and inviting all of the beers in? With that, we have two American beers that came from BeerCast #58 – our Stateside Special. In the red corner – Rogue Brewing’s St Rogue Red Ale (5.2%). In the…green…corner – Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest (6.7%). Two titans of the US craft beer scene – both scored 85% – how could we include one at the expense of the other?
Rogue’s red ale has the lowest abv of our five finalists – at 5.2% (which probably says something about the BeerCasters). Our panellists loved the depth of flavour and the balance of malt – so we’re really looking forward to re-sampling this one. Sierra Nevada made our BOTY show last year – but we were unable to source their Harvest 2009 wet hop ale due to its rarity (and the snow). This year we featured their more available Kiwi hopped Southern Hemisphere Harvest, and really had to give it a whirl in the final. A different beer, of course, but it made the last fou…five in its own right.
BeerCast Beer of the Year Show 2011 lineup…
Kernel India Pale Ale Citra
Thornbridge St Petersburg
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Christmas
Rogue St Rogue Red Ale
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest
So we can look back at another great drinking year on the BeerCast. We’ll be recording the BOTY show in early January with a specially extended panel. Stay tuned for surprises, controversy, and personal highlights, and in the meantime everyone associated with the BeerCast wishes our readers and listeners a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and all the best for 2011.