So, the list of our six best new British beers of 2012 ends here. Regular BeerCast readers might not be surprised by our final choice, as this particular beer was only released last month – and we were raving about it. But, deservedly, this wonderful IPA takes that final BOTY slot…
AKA IPA (6.7%)
Cromarty Brewing Company, Cromarty
(bottle, released November)
A while ago, I wrote about gateway beers – and, specifically, the single beer that got me into drinking something more decent than Carling. That revelatory moment came when I opened my first bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and realised there was a whole world of different flavours out there (coming from drinking Carling, any flavour was a step up). From then, hop-forward American bottled beer was my particular poison, and I tried them all. SNPA is still a classic – but now, modern UK breweries make homegrown beers that are every bit as good.
One of those new producers is Craig Middleton, and having followed his career with interest since the Cromarty facility opened last year, I’m well aware of how skilled he is. However, even saying that, I really wasn’t prepared for AKA IPA – when I opened it, I was right back to those early days of Sierra Nevada. By that, I don’t mean they taste similar – although both have a beautiful balance of hops about them – more the fact that it was another ‘wow’ moment. What are they teaching at Heriot-Watt these days?
Released without fanfare, to a few bottle shops in Scotland, AKA is as near to perfect as you can get in an India Pale Ale. That fabulous moment where the grapefruit, lemon and lime citrus tips over the edge into sweet, sticky resin is spellbinding. I always, always bang on about balance – for me, that’s what makes a beer. Anyone can shovel bucketloads of hops into a copper and get an overloaded bitter bomb. To make a beer like this – a beer that gives you every single flavour, from one end to the other – now that, that is brewing.
Well, there we are – our six best new British beers of 2012 are Buxton Imperial Black, Roosters Serlo de Burgh, Camden Town King Crimson, Marble Northern Quarter Bitter, Elixir Benedictine Groove and Cromarty AKA IPA. But we’re not done yet – join us on Monday for the ones that nearly made it. Then, on Wednesday, a special post about the brewery that really made a quantum leap in 2012. If you missed out on AKA IPA, by the way, another batch was bottled this past week…