Beer: Paul McConville picks his favourite brews and brewery of 2020
WHILE many of us will be glad to see 2020 hurtling away in the rearview mirror, a retrospective look at the last 12 months in beer is quite a bittersweet one.
The broader hospitality industry has been decimated by the global pandemic and the knock-on effect has been an important supply chain shut off to our local breweries. However, many have taken this time to throw themselves into making some smashing beer and benefitting from online ordering – although many independent off licences have also flourished due to being classed as essential services.
As ever, my review of the year is by no means an exhaustive one, but merely a look at the beers I've enjoyed. Feel free tweet, email or shout at me in the street about your favourite 2020 brews.
:: BEER OF THE YEAR
THIS required a rifle through my Untapped profile to see which beers I'd rated highest throughout the year. Many of the highest scoring brews were big, thumping imperial stouts. Although, one of my early favourites of the year was Banik Pilsner from Mourne Mountains, a malty, sweet and crisp pils very much in the traditional Czech style.
There were, of course, a long line of juice bomb IPAs, but I loved the dank and crushable Digitial Leash from Heaney's, which had strong grapefruit notes and invited us to unplug and chill. Oregon Grown: Starta Meridian from Galway Bay is worth an honorable mention as I'm quite partial to a black IPA, and this one nailed the style.
However, in a year of sensational stouts, I have to fall back on one of them. You're Not Getting Any is a double oatmeal stout brewed with blueberries from Boundary which has appeared in various incarnations over the last few years.
This year's vintage was bursting with chocolate and vanilla sweetness, with the blueberries adding a slight vinous tang and even a little sour hint.
:: BREWERY OF THE YEAR
A TOUGH one to call, in this year especially as so many breweries rose to the challenge of the pandemic. Like many others, Mourne Mountains Brewery beavered away in their Warrenpoint brewery, churning out a selection of excellent beers, presented in cans adorned with stunning photographs of the surrounding Mourne countryside.
The brewery also managed to stage its first taproom event this year, while knocking out great beers from the thick, chewy and juicy DIPA Electra to the sweet and cakey double oatmeal stout Moto Psycho Nightmare.