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Craft Beer: Paul picks his favourite brews of 2018

What Are The Odds? is a cracking Double IPA by hop magicians Magic Rock and Verdant
Paul McConville

THE year is drawing to a close and that means it's time to look back at the beers I've enjoyed this year. As I've said previously, I am merely judging the beers I have imbibed during 2018, regardless of when they first appeared on the shelves.

However, there has been a growing trend this year for limited-edition brews, meaning that a beer you love may not be available in a couple of weeks. Such is the evolving nature of the beer scene here and further afield, but one thing is more evident – Irish craft beer is on a par with the brews being produced in any county in the world.

Naturally, this is the point where I tell you that one of my favourite beers of this year was made by two English brewers. To be fair, it is hard to look past What Are The Odds?, a cracking Double IPA by hop magicians Magic Rock and Verdant. It's a hazy, fruity number which packs a punch, weighing in at 8.3 per cent.

Speaking of fruit, my next beer of the year is 9 Rubies, a raspberry IPA from Lacada. Now, I have to admit to not being a huge fan of overly-flavoured IPAs, but this one gets its spot.

Perhaps it's the fact that raspberry can be a quite bitter fruit, but this also benefits from the addition of lactose, which makes this 5.5 per cent beer smoothy and silky.

There's a certain level of smoothness to one of my other faves of the year. 2018 saw Heaney Farmhouse Brewery break ground on their new facility on their home turf of Bellaghy. However, they continued to churn out some cracking beers from their temporary home at Boundary.

One such was their Gingerbread Milk Stout which was sweet and smooth with a hint of spice and treacle.

Brewery of the year: There have been a fair few Irish brewers upping their game this year with output this would rival anything the rest of the world has to offer, but if there's one brewer whose beer I have consistently enjoyed this year, it is Beer Hut Brewing.

The Kilkeel-based beermakers have had a busy 2018, knocking out beers like Fluffy Bunny Marshmallow Stout, Simcoe Simon and more recently their Mixtape and Boombox IPAs, they've come a long way in a short space of time.

At the time of writing, I haven't yet tried their breakfast stout collaboration with Bullhouse, but it'll be enjoyed over the festive period and I'll report back in the new year.

Tweet me @pmcconville77 and tell me your favourite beers of 2018.