Craft Beer Rising is less than two weeks away, which means it’s time to start forming a plan of attack. You could, of course, track down your favourite pale ale, take advantage of the cheaper-than-the-pub prices and bed in for the weekend, but to do so would be to neglect a stunning line-up of envelope-pushing drinks of every flavour, hue and strength. Here are the drinks we’ll be making a beeline for on February 26 and 27.
Outlaw Brewing Co. – Roots. Rock. Reggae. (6.4 percent ABV)
Outlaw is an experimental offshoot of Rooster’s Brewing Co., one of the most forward-thinking beer producers in northern England. This new Caribbean-inspired number bolsters the aromatic wallop of big, tropical hops with the addition of fresh pineapple and grapefruit. Sounds like delicious, boozy Lilt, and we’re absolutely fine with that.
Meantime Brewing Company – Pilot Brew IPA (6.7 percent ABV)
Craft beer nuts were left foaming into their beards last spring when Greenwich-based brewer Meantime was bought out by SABMiller, one of the biggest beer manufacturers in the world. To prove it's not forgotten its roots, Meantime recently invested in a small pilot brewing kit, which they’re using to develop new, more left-field recipes. Expect citrus and tropical fruit flavours from this IPA – the first beer to graduate from the new kit – and to forget where you live if you have more than three pints.
Mondo – May the Schwarz Be With You (5.2 percent ABV)
Proving dark beers aren’t just for winter, Battersea’s Mondo will be dropping their take on the classic German black beer at CBR16. Unlike stouts and porters, this one boasts a big, smooth, fluffy head and a crisp, lager-like finish. Who knows, if it delivers on the promise we may even forgive that terrible pun.
By the Horns Brewing Co. – Samba King (5.1 percent ABV)
Olé! Presumably in celebration of this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Tooting brewers By the Horns have concocted a punchy-sounding rye blonde ale full of refreshing, summery flavours. A complex five-grain base plays host to citrussy hops and fresh Brazilian lime and lemongrass. Expect to see a lot of these being sunk on London Fields from May onwards.
Truman’s – London Keeper (8 percent ABV)
Truman’s may brew their beer out in Hackney Wick these days, but CBR – held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane – is still a fitting place to showcase what sounds like a very special beer. It’s a double export stout that’s based on a recipe from 1880, and has been ageing for three years. Take it slowly to avoid missing out on notes of dried fruit, chocolate and burnt toast.
Brew By Numbers – 11 Session (3.8 percent ABV)
The lads won’t be happy about it, but one of this year’s biggest beer trends is – whisper it – lower ABVs. Bermondsey’s Brew By Numbers is known for heady, high-strength brews, and, though it's weaker, this all-day pale ale doesn’t compromise on hop aroma. If you intend to make a dent in the 150-odd brewers in attendance at this year’s CBR (not literally – they’ll chuck you out), aiming for the low numbers seems a sound strategy, and this light, refreshing beer the perfect session starter.
The Wild Beer Co. – III (9 percent ABV)
Somerset’s Wild Beer Co. has come a long way in its first three years, mainly thanks to its innovative approach to brewing and some inspired flavour combinations. They’re marking the occasion with this lip-pursingly boozy barley wine, made with caramelised orange peel and pomegranate molasses. And if that doesn’t have you singing happy birthday at the top of your lungs, nothing will.
Harviestoun Brewery – Chilli-Infused Old Engine Oil (6 percent ABV)
This Scotch brewery’s signature black ale is a fairly conservative number, designed to be knocked back in front of roaring fires by Cumbrian farmers. But this chilli-laced special edition is something to get excited about, with the beer’s natural dark chocolate notes set to be accentuated by spicy heat. For best results, pair with a massive hunk of barbecued meat (this being east London, you won’t have to go far to find one).