Triple fff, Altonís Pride (England)
Altonís Pride may have a relatively humble name but itís a rich and complex beer, brewed with Maris Otter pale and cara gold malts and generously hopped with Amarillo, Fuggles, Goldings and Mount Hood varieties from England and the U.S. The bronze beer has a profound aroma of floral hops, tart citrus fruit and sweet, juicy malt. The palate is full and rounded, with creamy malt, citrus fruit and peppery hops, followed by a lingering bittersweet finish that is hoppy and malty, with a continuing tangy fruit note; it finally ends dry.
McMullen, Country Bitter (England)
Itís a Ďfully attenuated beerí, which means it has a long fermentation that turns all available malt sugars to alcohol and creates a finished ale that drinks stronger than its ABV would suggest. It has the McMullen hallmark of bitter orange fruit on the aroma and palate, balanced by a Ďfresh breadí malt note and profound hop character reminiscent of pine cones, cedar wood and spice, with a rich butterscotch note. The finish is long and complex, ending dry, but with a fine interweaving of rich, nutty malt, tart fruit and bitter and spicy hops.
Bartrams Brewery, Comrade Bill Bartrams Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout (England)
This anti-imperialist imperial Stout has a deep ruby colour with a robust aroma of chocolate, bitter coffee, dark fruit, roasted grain and peppery hops. Chocolate builds in the mouth with continuing contributions from espresso coffee, raisin fruit, smoky grain and bitter hop resins. The finish is long and complex with rich smoky malt, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and peppery hops making bold contributions.
Cumbrian Legendary Ales, Loweswater Gold (England)
The aroma has a creamy, oatmeal note allied to delicate hop resins and tart lemon fruit with a hint of sulphur and butterscotch. The fruit note builds in the mouth but is well balanced by juicy malt and cedar-like hops with lingering butterscotch. The finish is bittersweet and quenching with tart lemon fruit vying for attention with bitter hop resins, butterscotch and creamy malt.
Brasserie Cantillon, Iris (Belgium)
Iris is made solely with barley malt and uses 50 percent fresh hops as well as aged versions. It takes its name from Brusselsí official flower. In all respects, Iris has an aroma and palate thatís unmistakably lambic, sour and musty, but with the addition of a spritzy hop character. The beer is made with the house yeast and is hopped with Saaz hops from the Czech Republic. Itís aged for two years in the Cantillon oak casks and at the end of that period linen bags containing more Saaz are added to impart a fresh hop aroma.
The beer that emerges from this long process is red/gold in colour and has a nose thatís both sour from the yeast and spicy from the hops at the same time. Itís tart, tangy and sour in the mouth, with lemon fruit, toasted malt and spicy hops, with a long, quenching finish thatís a fine blend of toasted grain, tart and sour fruit and spritzy hops. In short, itís superb.