We’re now over the halfway point of the sixth annual running of the best new British beers of the year feature, with this, the third pick. So far, we’ve had a Japanese-inspired sake-style beer from Somerset, and a hop-forward wheat beer from Manchester. Next up, we head southwards to east London, and find the barrel-aged beer of the year.
Barrel-Aged Bone King (8.9%)
Beer festivals are the perfect chance to discover new things, as I’ve said on this blog many, many times. Brewers bring all kinds of new and interesting things, or at least a large selection of their range, and the atmosphere practically encourages exploration – with the small serving sizes available, and the neat little booklet to work out who’s got what beer on and how you can tick it off. It’s long since got to the stage where I only ever drink new beers at festivals – and therefore they are a great chance to find recent releases that go on to fill this week of ‘best-of’ posts. And at IndyMan this past October, the final beer I had on my visit was exactly that.
I’d never tried Bone King, the double IPA brewed by Beavertown and Spanish brewery Naparbier (who had initially collaborated on the Rainbow Project series of beers). So on a furtive wander past Beavertown’s stall at the Victoria Baths a fleeting glimpse of a barrel aged version had me instinctively reaching for a handful of tokens. Adding imperial IPA’s to barrels is fascinating – I think much more so than imperial stouts – as the balance of flavours becomes something more than the simple complementary roasty/oaky/vanilla. For DIPA’s the hops mellow out, the different fruit flavours mingle with richer toffees and coconut elements.
Forgive the slightly wanky tasting notes, but that’s the other major reason why beer festivals work, in that you can immediately pair like for like beers. Bone King was released in b-a form for the Copenhagen Beer Celebration, and so IndyMan was a natural place to also serve it – and goodness me if that wasn’t a fantastic idea. The sweet, moreish stone fruit and caramel edges, followed up by a monumental whack of booze, made it the beer of the festival and, to be honest, every festival I’ve been to this year.
Check back tomorrow for the next in the series of best new British beers of 2015, selection number four – a fruit beer from the north east of England. Beavertown finished off their amazing year by seeing head brewer Jenn Merrick voted the Brewer of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers – and very well deserved it was, too.