Craft Beer: Our top brews of the year 2017

Pulp and Gravity's Rainbow were among Paul's top tipples of the year
Paul McConville

THE end of the year is usually a time for looking back and while I'll be doing a fair bit of that this week, the craft beer scene in Ireland and beyond moves at such a rapid pace, it can be hard to keep up some time.

This is to be welcomed of course, but here are some of the beers that I have enjoyed most this year. As ever, this is just a personal selection with the only criteria being that I must have drunk them for the first time in the past 12 months.

Verdant made big waves towards the end of 2016 and the start of this year and the canned craft coming out of the Cornish brewers has definitely lived up to the hype.

Their Pulp 8 per cent double IPA was the pick of the bunch for me. A fresh and juicy IPA with a dry finish and cloudy appearance which was to be the stand-out style of the year.

O Brother featured in my selection this time last year with Cascadian ale Bonita and I was quite taken with their coffee porter Joe earlier this year. Many coffee stouts are brewed as milk stouts and are very smooth and sweet, but Joe had a robust espresso flavour, which is just how I like my coffee. Joe comes in at 6.4 per cent, but does have a smooth finish too.

Sours were the style du jour of 2016 and although less prominent in 2017, I had an absolute belter in Siren's Acid Jam, an imperial barrel-aged sour which was tart and woody, with flavours of sour cherry. A real sipper at 9.7 per cent, but full of flavour.

Manchester brewers Marble catch the eye with their imposing cans. Their beer isn’t bad either and their 5.4 per cent Pale was one of my favourites this year. It was smooth and fruity with delicious citrus and stone fruit flavours.

This year has seen some fantastic Irish double IPAs, not least the 2017 incarnation of Of Foam and Fury from Galway Bay and Whiplash's Gravity's Rainbow but it is one of Whiplash's other brews which was one of my standout beers of the year.

Rollover was a fantastic IPA which was wonderfully piney and citrusy. A sessionable beer at 3.8 per cent, the low strength hasn't been at the expense of flavour.

So there you go, there were just a few of my favourites from 2017 and I'm sure you have your own, or want to tell me I'm talking nonsense. Cheers.

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