I have just spent a jolly pleasant hour talking & drinking beer with Tom Parker-Bowles on his LBC show and it sounds like he had a good time too.
I like Tom, he's one of life's good guys, and is really passionate about all things food & drink and especially great beer - I hope to be invited on again in the not too distant future.
Anyway, my shameless cry for more work and media profile aside, I do have to say a very public thank you to all the breweries who busted a gut to get beer down for the show in very short order and I'm sorry to some of them who didn't make it on - in my eyes getting through seven beers in an hour long show wasn't a difficult plan.
Sadly, I failed to account for the fact that it wasn't just me & Tom drinking ourselves into a happy state!
So, firstly, the beers that made it on were Breconshire's divine Winter Beacon, Sharp's Chalky's Bite (such a great food beer) and ever-refreshing Thornbridge Kipling.
However, that meant four didn't so, as a small thank you to those breweries who delivered beer & didn't get it on I would like to suggest that if you haven't tried the below beers before, or perhaps haven't revisited them in a while, please do so - I wouldn't have chosen them if they weren't, to my mind, enduring classics:
Moorhouse's Black Cat Mild 3.4% - always punches above its weight; coffee & dark chocolate foundation are caressed by dried sour cherry overtones and a meltingly soft caramel finish, divine!
Fuller's London Porter 5.4% - brewed with more than a passing nod to the Porter recipes of yesteryear after a great deal of research, this is currently RateBeer's favourite Porter and mine too. Rich and chocolately but with just enough astringency from the chocolate malt and Fuggles hops to keep it from being cloying.
Meantime IPA 7.5% - A leviathan of a beer in both its ABV and the way it woke British brewing out of its IPA torpor and, I would hazard, one of the most influential beers of the past decade. Grapefruit, marzipan, pine and caramel are just some of the flavours that vie for your attention - for an orgy of sensory overload throw some blue cheese on chicory and prepare to be utterly blown away.
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16-year-old 8% - my respect and admiration for this beer (and its brewer Stuart Cail) is well documented but let me say this again; try the Ola Dubh range, try it, try it, try it! But drink it from a brandy balloon with some food first time round, it softens the shock of woody, whisky, burnt, chocolate, coffee, ozone and olorosso flavours coming at you from all sides and heightens the pleasure!
Also, well done to Cherie Spriggs of NieTimber vineyard for picking up the illustrious prize of Champion Worldwide Sparkling Wine at a competition in Italy recently - she was up against the big guns and pulled in the prize for the finest bubbly offering - nice to see.