All hail the IBC ales
The rest of the best - tasting notes and judges remarks for the remainder
of the top 50 winners of the International Beer Challenge 2008
Fuller's London Porter, 5.4%
Fuller's London Porter was created in the mid-1990s after a detailed study of 19th-century porter recipes. It's mellow and smooth, with cappuccino coffee and dark chocolate biscuits on the palate, finishing bittersweet, becoming ever more bitter.
Robinson's Old Tom, 8.5%
A complex and deservedly successful old ale. Dark chocolate flavours are countered by an
aniseed-like hoppiness in
the taste. The warming finish sees hops emerge to provide a firm bitterness,
while chocolaty malt and vinous fruit linger.
Fuller's Organic Honey Dew, 5%
This classy, golden, organic beer, laced with honey, is so refreshing and easy to quaff - sweet and honeyed, but not overbearingly floral - that it's just the sort of ale to attract non-beer drinkers. There are elderflower notes too, plus a very light, citrus bitterness.
Fuller's Vintage Ale, 8.5%
This 2007 vintage may be one of the best yet. Everything about it is complex, with aromas and flavours ranging from soft tropical fruit and smoky oranges to a liquorice-like tangy hop note, marzipan, zesty citrus and vinous raisins.
Shepherd Neame Spitfire, 4.5%
This flagship premium ale proved to judges this year that it is a great quaffing bitter. There's plenty of sweet malty backbone in the taste, but it's the keen hoppy edge that marks this as a beer to seek out, with hops running on strongly into the dry, tangy finish.
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, 5%
With lots of zesty, citrus hops up front, this is a typically American, hop-accented pale ale, but no less enjoyable for that. There's balance to this orange-amber beer , with a sweetish, malty foundation and some floral and faint pear drop notes.
Woodforde's Norfolk Bitter (for Marks & Spencer), 4.5%
M&S's range of bottle-conditioned beers has been such a hit that they've added three more to the selection. Norfolk Bitter was one of the founding four, a characterful bitter with a crisp, bitter, zesty grapefruit flavour, backed by floral, peachy notes and some malt sweetness.
Orkney Dark Island Reserve, 10%
This upscaled version of Orkney's Dark Island has been matured in whisky casks and is filled with the bittersweet flavours of smoky chocolate, oak and whisky, with hops and dried fruits light in the background.
Harvey's Christmas Ale, 8.1%
Harvey's bottled ale collection is seldom seen beyond its Sussex heartland, but deserves wider recognition. This one weighs in at 8.1%, but drinks light for the strength, offering a wonderful, velvet-smooth balance of sweet, sticky date, zesty orange and mildly warming flavours.
Meantime London Porter, 6.5%
Biscuity dark malt richness leads the way, with plain chocolate and coffee prominent in the complex mix, rounding off with a dry, nutty finish. This is an easy-drinking beer, despite the strength, with a lovely airy texture, thanks to the bottle conditioning.
Rogue Imperial Stout 2006, 11%
This complex, potent ale is loaded with bitter chocolate, espresso coffee and liquorice flavours, but also features a lively, zesty orange and grapefruit freshness, with a silky texture throughout. It's exceptionally drinkable for the strength.
Deschutes The Abyss, 11%
Last year's Supreme Champion not surprisingly features again in the IBC's Top 50.
Originating from Oregon, this is an outstanding creation, a rich, strong stout that has vanilla, chocolate and coffee, plus a little liquorice and gentle bursts of juicy orange.
Woodforde's Nelson's Revenge, 4.5%
Judges appreciated the soft orange-citrus notes and the smooth, lightly chocolaty malt base, as well as the peppery hop resins. Despite growing dramatically into a sizeable regional brewery this shows that Woodforde's still pays close attention to its range of beers.
Carlow Irish Stout (for Marks &
M &S 's Irish Stout is an authentic, Emerald Isle beer, brewed by the Carlow Brewing Company. It
hit the spot with
judges, who appreciated the smoky, bitter chocolate, coffee and caramel notes.
Hook Norton Haymaker, 5%
A burst of summer from Oxfordshire. This bright, sunny beer is wonderfully balanced, combining grapefruit and orange marmalade hop notes with malty sweetness
and a dry, bitter finish.
Hook Norton Twelve Days, 5.5%
For a dark, Christmas beer, Hook Norton's Twelve Days is hugely drinkable. It's attractively ruby in colour, with big, nutty chocolate notes . Like Haymaker, this is a seasonal cask ale that is bottled to be available all year.
Harvey's Prince of Denmark, 9%
A strong, sweet stout, loaded with malty, leathery flavours, with caramel and chocolate, dried fruit and wine -like , all set against a silky texture and a slowly numbing warmth. Another impressive strong beer from the Sussex brewers.
Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, 4.2%
Bitter & Twisted is no stranger to the awards podium, and is a regular winner
at the IBC. The packaging is classy and does true justice to the refreshing ale inside that is packed with Hersbrucker, Challenger and Styrian Goldings hops to deliver a grapefruit character.
Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Country Ale, 6%
There are few British beers of 6% alcohol that are as well balanced as Wye Valley's Country Ale. Full and malty, with traces of chocolate and toffee, this is a bittersweet creation, with
orchard and blackcurrant fruit notes and
a decisive hop tang.
Rogue Shakespeare Stout, 6.3%
This near-black beer packs an alcoholic punch and there's a lot to be savoured in this full-flavoured brew. Bitter chocolate and coffee lead the way, leaving malty sweetness to play second fiddle, and there's more of the same in the dry, lightly warming finish.
Issaquah Ménage à Frog, 9%
is brewed in Washington state, the inspiration is Belgian. Hence it is golden in colour, sweet and zesty to taste, with lemon, orange and mango notes, and, as you'd expect, plenty of residual warmth.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale, 6.5%
This typically flavoursome Rogue creation is an ale based on the German maibock style, and is a deservedly successful beer, especially at Hallowe'en time. The full-bodied taste has lots of sweet, nutty malt, an orange blossom fragrance and a firm, peppery hop balance.
Samuel Adams Holiday Porter, 5.8%
balances drinkability with lots of flavour. The taste is mellow, sweet and chocolate-milky, but overlaid with a liquorice-like, tangy bitterness, and rounds off with a dry, bitter coffee note .
Eisenbahn Lust Prestige, 11.5%
This Champagne-style beer from Brazil is allowed to mature for a whole year. It pours golden, with a big, moussey head, perhaps more akin to Duvel than Champagne itself. The aroma and flavour are earthy and spicy, with a taste that falls on the bitter side of bittersweet.
Deschutes Obsidian Stout, 6.4%
This is a big, satisfying beer, loaded with roasted grain bitterness, powdery chocolate and sweet, creamy malt. The beer takes its name from a local expanse of volcanic rock, which is said to be smooth and black, just like the beer.
Brew D og Paradox Grain, 10%
The guys at Brew
Dog have set out to shake up the British brewing industry and Paradox Grain is
packed with taste and character. It's an imperial stout aged in whisky casks and it belts out super-smooth, oaky, creamy, smoky flavours of bitter chocolate and toffee.
Batemans Triple XB, 4.8%
You know with Batemans that you're always going to get flavour, and Triple XB opens up robustly bitter and hoppy, with plenty of malty body for support, some tart dried fruit, a hint of tea and a light sweetness that nods towards marzipan.
Deschutes Green Lakes Organic Ale, 5.2%
Another winner from this reliable Oregon brewery, proving that you can make exceptional beer from wholesome organic ingredients. This attractive, amber-red beer simply bounces with flavour, packing in sweet, citrus hops, firm bitter resins and smooth, softly nutty malt.
Cropton Yorkshire Bitter (for Marks & Spencer), 4.6%
This orange-amber ale was one of the original four bottle-conditioned beers showcased by M&S last year. The flavour is of tart oranges, with a sappy hop note and a gentle bitterness. One of a number of bottle-conditioned beers produced by Cropton Brewery in North Yorkshire.
Fuller's Golden Pride, 8.5%
Golden Pride is one of Britain's leading barley wines, and a constant award winner. This potent yet perfectly balanced brew is silky-smooth, with plenty of body and sweetness. Subtle orange and almond notes overlay full malt and hop bitterness.
Greene King Abbot Ale, 5%
Impressive, informative packaging certainly helped this long-standing favourite from Suffolk claim a place in the IBC's Top 50 again this year. The fine, hoppy nose and smoothly malty, pear-fruity taste also brought high scores from the judges.
Okells Aile, 4.7%
Smoked malt is a tricky grain to use in brewing. Too heavy a hand and the beer can taste like TCP. Isle of Man brewers Okells, however, have got the balance just right. There's certainly a smoky note but it's kept in check, allowing rich, bitter chocolate to share the palate.
Meantime Coffee, 6%
When the idea of adding fresh Fairtrade coffee to a porter was first put into practice at Meantime, they didn't get it quite right as the beer was not strong enough. Boosting it from 4% to 6% has turned it around, providing more malt to match the bitterness of the aromatic coffee.
Zywiec Porter, 9.5%
One of the last Baltic porters still produced by the big
eastern European brewers, Zywiec Porter is a n example of a threatened style. It's big and strong but, being lagered for 90 days or more, it has a smoothness and cleanness that lighten the abundant dark malt flavours.
Brew Dog Punk IPA, 6%
Punk IPA is the second Brew Dog beer in this year's IBC Top 50 and once again, the flavour of this golden ale is full and in your face, a bittersweet onslaught of aggressive, biting hops, light peachy fruit and a citrus sharpness, lingering on in a long, dry, bitter, tangy, citrus finish.
Deschutes 20th Anniversary Wit, 5.5%
Brewed to celebrate the brewery's 20th birthday, this is a Belgian-style wheat beer, hazy yellow in colour and remarkably easy to drink for the strength. The texture is suitably crisp and wheaty and the lightly spicy, bittersweet taste features plenty of lemon and clove.
O'Hanlon's Thomas Hardy's Ale, 11.7%
The IBC's Supreme Champion in 2006, this 2008 version is still young and yet to mature but it's already exhibiting the features of greatness, loaded with bittersweet sultana and tangerine flavours, balanced by clean, tangy hop and underscored by a spicy warmth.
Greene King Abbot Reserve, 6.5%
Not only does Abbot Ale feature in our Top 50, but so does this new stronger version which is packed with flavour. It's malty, dry and bittersweet to taste, with a light marzipan character and some dried vine fruit notes before a dry, bitter and tangy-hoppy finish.
Rogue Juniper Pale Ale, 5.2%
The brewers at Rogue Ales introduced this beer in 2004 (then called Yellow Snow Ale) that featured whole juniper berries. The juniper berries aren't that obvious, they just add a light scented fragrance to what is otherwise a full-bodied, bitter, malty, hoppy beer.
Meantime London Stout, 4.5%
A new, clean and fresh-tasting stout from the Greenwich brewery, packed with bitter roasted grain and plain chocolate flavours with a little bite and some background malty sweetness.
Deschutes Cascade Ale, 4.5%
The Deschutes success story in the IBC continues - six Top 50 beers this year, to add to last year's Supreme Champion - with this orange-golden ale that is light and easy-drinking. It's bitter, crisp and dry overall but the immediate flavour is of sweet orange jelly.
Meantime India Pale Ale, 7.5%
This is an abundantly hoppy, golden ale, with powerful, peppery, bitter orange notes and a long, bitter-citrus finish.