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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy Brew Year!

Although my homebrewing journey has only just begun, I feel like I've come such a long way. Starting off with a simple kit, I quickly progressed to full grain brews using Massive Brewery's stove-top BIAB kit. This move was imperative for me if I'm ever going to make top beers. I needed full control over every aspect and the results are worlds apart from my humble kit beginnings. I'm only two brews in and have already received positive praise from willing candidates whom have sampled them. The chaps down at the Macc Homebrew Club were very kind with their feedback and I've even had some coverage from the guys at BeerManchester and the Beer O'Clock Show:
  
  
On top of learning how to homebrew I also took to the web to discuss my journey through this very blog, which has certainly been a worthwhile endeavor. As well as it acting as an archive of all I've done, it has also given me the chance to make lots of new beery buddies, some of which I've had the pleasure to meet in person and some are virtual friends that I chat with via Twitter and Untappd. If I've ever needed any brewing advice there have been plenty of talented brewers out there, both amateur and professional, willing to impart invaluable knowledge. There really isn't a minute that goes by where there's not an opportunity to drunkenly discuss beer or brewing. 

This year has also been a great year for imbibing beers and with a quick peek at my Untappd stats, I've consumed some 234 beers, 202 of which being unique, since joining the site in August. For the last couple of years Macclesfield has been a great place to drink and with Red Willow opening it's own watering hole recently, with 15 keg and 5 cask lines, the choice of quality beers has grown massively...plus it's only five minutes from my doorstep! Furthermore we now have a swanky little beer shop named Brewtique, which is always well-stocked with a wide selection of quality beers from all around the globe. So really, it comes as no surprise that I've consumed just over 200 different beers in the space of four months! My liver and wallet have both protested.

From all the beers sampled there have been some absolute corkers, from the likes of Pressure Drop, Burning Sky, BrewFist, Buxton Brewery, Thornbridge, Kernel, Great Heck Brewing, Quantum, Red Willow...the list goes on and on. It has certainly been a superb year for top brews, including a couple of beers that I took a particular shine to and would always partake in a swift half if the opportunity arose. 

Firstly, there's Five Points Brewing's Hook Island Red - a red rye ale that explodes in the mouth with flavour. It's an acquired taste and I've seen many a face screwed up in disgust, like licking lemon off a turd. I have to say, when I first sampled this on cask it had the aroma of kitchen bin. It's scent has improved somewhat with every batch, but thankfully, flavour-wise, it has remained as tasty as ever. Currently Five Points only has a line up of three core beers (all of which are excellent), so I'm excited about what 2014 has in store from these guys.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
If there was one beer that stood head and shoulders above the rest in 2013, it was Northern Monk's Imperial Stout - Strannik. As well as being an absolutely incredible stout, it was also the most influential to me. The brewing Banksy behind this superb beverage is a homebrewer himself, or was - unfortunately for us he has semi-retired from this brewing malarkey and another has taken the reins as top brew monk at the Northern Monk Abbey. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of homebrewing and where it could lead and with that in mind my flat cap shall be forever doffed sir...keep those puns coming! Let us not forget t'Monks other offering - New World IPA, a stunning hop heavy bitter pale ale that totally batters the taste buds...in a good way of course! Everyone I persuaded to sample it fell in love immediately.

So what's in store for the upcoming year? I'm hoping to hone my homebrewing skills even further, brewing various styles with the aim to reach a point where I'm happy enough to enter my beers into competition. Also, if there's any brewers out there that would like a helper for the day, please drop me a line as I would be grateful of the experience! I shall be continuing to work on this blog, maybe adding some resource sections for homebrew greenhorns such as myself, all the whilst *ahem* researching as many different beers as possible! So let's raise a glass to 2014!