Advent

The 2016 Big Beery Advent Calendar

We are ridiculously excited about this year's HB&B Big Beery Advent Calendar.

We've collected together 25 of our favourite beers of 2016 from our favourite breweries. Details of the beers are under wraps until they're revealed, day by day, throughout December, but you can expect a wide and varied selection, from juicy pale ales, funky saisons, delicious darks and everything in between. As with last year's calendar, our guiding principle has been "Is this beer going to make people very, very happy when they unwrap it?" If the answer is yes, in it goes.

This year's calendar (available in store or online) costs £79 which includes 25 mind-blowing beers AND a £10 voucher for the online shop, and comes with our promise that you won't find a better advent calendar out there. Satisfaction guaranteed. 

Every night from 1 December, we'll be revealing each day's beer here on our blog - why we've chosen it, why we love it. You can drink along and give us your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #hbbadvent.

These are selling out faster than we could have imagined, so don't delay if you want to have a very beery December. 

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 23: Harviestoun Ola Dubh 18, 8% (Scotland)

glenn@hopburnsblack.co.uk

Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Harviestoun says: "Ola Dubh 18 is what you get when you age Old Engine Oil in casks formerly used to mature Highland Park 18 (‘Best Spirit in the World’), which imparts a fruity, whisky character into our rich, dark beer."

We say: Like whisky? Like beer? This is your night-before-Christmas-Eve beer. The great thing is, you don't have to stop at just a dram. This is Glenn's stocking stuffer (don't tell him) - beautiful, rich, peaty goodness.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 22: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, 5.6% (US)

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Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Rogue says: "A nutty twist to a traditional European Brown Ale. Dark brown in color with a hazelnut aroma, a rich nutty flavor and a smooth malty finish."

We say: Christmas in a glass! Beer does not get more festive than this. Proper special pudding beer.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 21: Gosnells London Mead, 5.5% (Peckham)

Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Gosnells says: "We employ traditional brewing methods and blend carefully sourced citrus blossom honey with water to create a new style of mead that is very different from typical meads. At 5.5% ABV, Gosnells is both drier and lower in alcohol than most other meads, and makes for lighter, more refreshing drinking. We have gone back to the traditional base of mead, using just honey and water – no addition of hops, apples or grapes – to make a product that celebrates the simplicity of the drink, and the sweet, floral notes of the honey. We use traditional ingredients and methods to create mead with a modern twist; served in a 330ml bottle, 5.5% ABV and lightly sparkling. Fermented for 10 days, we then hand-bottled, pasteurize and label on-site in the Peckham meadery."

We say: One of the most delicious drinks in London, and it's made just around the corner. We've been delighted to see Tom Gosnell achieve such great success - among other accolades, he scooped the Young British Foodie award for Alcohol at this year's YBFs - and this is always one of our best-selling products. Its light, effervescent sweetness makes it a natural for food, or it's just perfect on its own on a hot summer day. We're also loving the new Winter Mead and will be taking home a flagon of Gosnells Mulled Mead for Christmas Day.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 20: Brew By Numbers Saison Citra / Amarillo & Orange, 5.8% (SE London)

glenn@hopburnsblack.co.uk

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

BBNO says: "The Citra Saison is Brew By Numbers' modern interpretation of a Belgian farmhouse classic. The hops balance the yeast character while a light spicing adds complexity. The Amarillo & Orange is brewed using Amarillo hops (known for their orange-like flavour) and Seville orange peel. It's light, refreshing and incredibly drinkable - a truly seasonal saison."

We say: We couldn't have an advent calendar of our favourite breweries without including BBNO and we couldn't have BBNO without including one of their saisons - or in this case, two, the Citra or the Amarillo & Orange, depending on when your advent calendar was purchased. The BBNO team were originally inspired by a trip to Belgium and the crisp and funky saisons they tasted there, and this fascination is borne out by the 15+ different saisons they regularly brew. Lovely stuff.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 19: One Mile End Salvation Pale Ale, 4.4% (London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

One Mile End says: "Brewed with malted Maris Otter barley, a small amount of wheat and lots of US hops. This beer has an aroma of grapefruit and orange, mixed with a balanced bitterness and a slightly sweet finish."

We say: Our one complaint with One Mile End - the tiny microbrewery that lives under the White Hart Pub in Whitechapel - is that they never brew enough of the beer we love. All this is set to change, however, as the brewery is on the move to new, bigger premises, which is great news as it means MOAR BEER. Bad news in the short term is that you won't find this luscious pale ale in store while they make the move. Stand by for more One Mile End action in 2016.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 18: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace 7.2% (US)

glenn@hopburnsblack.co.uk

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Brooklyn says: "Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a classic saison, an unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, with a clean malt flavour and the quirky Sorachi Ace hop standing front and centre. Dry-hopping releases Sorachi Ace’s bright, spicy aromatics to tickle the nose before ascending into a fine harmony between pilsner malt and playful Belgian ale yeast. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is sunshine in a glass, a shining example of the versatility of one of the world’s most intriguing hops. This beer is a superstar at the table, and we enjoy it with seafood dishes, fresh cheeses, poultry, barbecue, and even tomato-based pasta sauces."

We say: Brooklyn is best known for its near-ubiquitous lager but this is the undisputed star of the stable. We were first introduced to this when a friend gave us a 750ml bottle and we fell instantly in love. A beer that goes with everything but tastes best on its own. A beer to toast with - a beer to toast yourself with, for having such exquisite taste.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 17: Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale, 7% (New Zealand)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Renaissance says:  "Multi award winning Stonecutter Scotch Ale is the big, hearty, ‘red wine’ of our range. The Scotch Ale style is believed to have originated in Edinburgh in the 18th century and is colloquially known as "wee heavy" due to its higher strength than its paler siblings. We use nine malts blended together to produce layers of caramel, toffee, liquorice, chocolate and roasty flavours. These layers are balanced by a tart, raisiny fruitiness that gradually gives way to give this dark beer a lingering dry finish. Rich, full bodied, warming and moreish."

We say: We could rave on about this beautiful beer for ages but beer writer Matthew Curtis pretty much summed it up in his recent blog for us. It's an ideal beer for these dreary days - pair it with a hearty stew or a roast for the ultimate comfort food.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 16: Wild Beer Millionaire Chocolate & Salted Caramel Milk Stout, 4.7% (Somerset)

Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Wild Beer says: "Sometimes a drink can make you feel so decadent it's like you're a millionaire; this beer wraps you in a velvety cocoon, dresses you in a smart suit and takes you out for a special night on the tiles. Sweet and salty collide in this rich, balanced and smooth dessert stout. Lactose, caramel and high quality Valrhona cocoa nibs provide a chocolate and caramel backbone alongside the roasty malts whilst the Cornish Sea Salts gives a savoury salty kick, raising this beautiful beer above the norm.

We say: This beer is notorious in HB&B lore for being the only beer we've opened on delivery and drunk before 11am. Our mouths had been salivating ever since we heard Wild Beer - one of our favourite UK breweries for their bold inventiveness - were making a chocolate and salted caramel milk stout. If there's a more delicious-sounding beer out there, we defy you to name it. It lives up to the description too. SUMPTUOUS. 

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 15: Stone & Wood Pacific Pale Ale,

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Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Stone & Wood says: "Inspired by our home on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and brewed using all Australian barley, wheat and Galaxy hops, Pacific Ale is cloudy and golden with a big fruity aroma and a refreshing finish. After being dry hopped at the end of fermentation, our Pacific Ale is then drawn straight from the storage tank at the brewery into kegs and bottles. Drawing it from the tank and straight into a keg or bottle without filtering means that the beer can be enjoyed at the pub or at home in the same condition as it is when we try it from the tank at the brewery … simply fresh."

We say: This is the taste of Australia in a bottle. The good bits, that is - the beach, the sunshine, the big blue skies, not the snakes, spiders and yobbos drinking dodgy lager. Just kidding, Australia. A great escape on this wet and nasty London evening.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 14: Five Points London Smoke Imperial Smoked Porter, 7.8% (London)

Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Five Points says: "Originally brewed for #Collabfest14 with Brewdog Shoreditch under the name Smoke & Mirrors, London Smoke is a semi-seasonal Imperial Porter brewed with smoked barley and wheat malts. This is a distinctive, lightly smoked beer with rich flavours of dark chocolate, tobacco and hints of campfire.."

We say: We wanted to include a smoked beer in our advent calendar line-up and London Smoke, from Hackney's Five Points Brewing, was the perfect choice. This is a silky, fruity porter with hints of coffee and liquorice as well as chocolate. It has a touch of the bonfire but it doesn't smoke you out. Fantastic with food - try it with cheese or a mint dessert (trust us on this one).

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 13: Brick Brewery Red Brick Rye, 5% (Peckham)

Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Brick says: "Red Brick Rye is an amber ale made with rye malt and North Amer­i­can hops."

We say: Timely that this beer appears in the advent calendar on the weekend Brick celebrates its second birthday. Not only is Brick the closest brewery to our shop, head brewer Ian is also our SE15 neighbour - we live a few doors down and have loved seeing his plans come to fruition over the past two years. From its humble beginnings, Brick now boasts a heaving tap room in addition to the brewery and is an essential stop on any self-respecting Peckham food and drink tour. The Red Brick Rye is one of our favourites from the Brick range (we also love the new Peckham Coal Line Porter) and we're looking forward to raising a glass of it tonight to toast Ian for his excellent endeavours. Cheers sir!

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 12: Tuatara Sauvinova Single Hop Pale Ale, 5.2% (New Zealand)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Tuatara says: "Kiwis are notorious for developing an enthusiasm for local commodities only after a thumbs up from the more discerning parts of the world. In the case of Nelson Sauvin hops we think that’s a little unfair. Tuatara and Sauvin were released into the world at about the same time so we knew them back in the day. We’re celebrating with Sauvinova, a single hop pale ale exploding with the distinctive tropical gooseberry notes that made its Sauvignon Blanc namesake famous. Tasting Notes: Full malt body copiously hopped with Nelson Sauvin displaying mouthwatering gooseberry, pineapple and grapefruit flavours. Balanced bitterness."

We say: Another stunner from the Tuatara crowd. Tuatara is one of the five breweries that make up the NZ Beer Collective, and with their stablemates they've helped us build our much-treasured reputation for the best NZ beer selection in the UK. This is a fabulous showcase for the mighty Nelson Sauvin hop, hailing from Jen's Kiwi hometown and lauded all over the world. Dankly resinous, this pale positively bursts with flavour and - along with the "air-hopped" Conehead IPA, is our favourite Tuatara brew.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 11: Green Flash Soul Style IPA, 6.5% (US)

Green Flash says: ”Our brewers rip-creating huge and complex double and triple IPAs at the pinnacle of craft beer enlightenment. Soul Style is their effortless and pure manifestation of the Single IPA. Citra, Simcoe, and Cascade hops are layered, allowing bright tropical waves of flavorful citrus and floral notes to break gently on the palate. Get stoked on a laid back single and ride a wave to soothe your soul.”

We say: Whoa, someone at Green Flash’s been pulling a little too hard on the peace pipe between those surf breaks… We bought this beer because it said “bright and tropical” on the label, and the label was orange. We like orange. Then we opened one and it was like opening a can of Orange Sunshine. This is such a tasty IPA - mangoes, orange blossom, so much tropical goodness you’ll be surprised it doesn’t give you a tan. We can’t think of a better way to kick off your wintry British Friday night.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 10: Trappistes Rochefort 8, 9.2% (Belgium)

The International Trappist Association says: ”Trappistes Rochefort is a brown ale, brewed and bottled within the walls of the Abbey of Saint-Remy in Rochefort. The modest dimensions of this brewery enable the Trappist monks and their collaborators to perfectly control production. Rochefort 8 dates from 1955. Originally this beer was only brewed for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Rochefort 8 begins with a density of 20.8º Plato and reaches a final 9.2% ABV. Masculine in character, it lends itself best to being enjoyed among friends!”

We say: We don’t even know what “masculine in character” means, but these guys are monks and maybe they haven’t been around women for a while, so we’ll give them a break. Anyway, this is one of our favourite Trappist ales - dark, rich and raisiny, it’s the perfect accompaniment for Christmas cake or just sipping slowly, all cosied up next to an open fire (or radiator - work with what you’ve got). Did we mention it scores 100 on Ratebeer?

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 9: Siren Craft Brew Blue Sky Blue Sea Seaweed & Cloudberry Gose (Wokingham) 5%

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Siren says: “We drew Surly Brewing in this year’s International Rainbow Project with the colour assigned to us being blue. In the spirit of the transatlantic collaboration we’ve linked the two breweries by sea and sky; our British Isles surrounded by water and Minnesota admired for its skyscapes. Seaweed provides the ocean air and salty gose depth while cloudberries represent the skies above.”

We say: We reckon the Rainbow Project - created by former Siren head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew - is just about the most exciting event on the UK brewing calendar. If you get the chance to make it to one of the launch day venues, such as Beavertown in London or Magic Rock up north, take it - it’s a great day out with great people and, most importantly, amazing beers. For the 2016 Project, seven UK breweries have been matched with seven New Zealand breweries, something we’re naturally looking forward to very much. But we digress…

We usually have at least 10 different beers from Siren as they make great beer and love pushing the boundaries - like Pokemon, we gotta drink them all. The beer you’re opening tonight is this year’s effort from Siren and Surly in the US, and it might just split opinion. Some will love its salty tartness (we do), others may need more persuading, and for some it might even be the first sour they’ve had. Never say we don't like to keep things interesting here at HB&B...

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 8: Howling Hops Running Beer Brown Ale, 4% (East London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Howling Hops says: "Brown Ale with Citra, Chinook and Centennial" 

We say: Howling Hops are one of the best of the new breed of London breweries around right now, making a terrific range of beers at their great-looking brewery and tank bar over in Hackney Wick. We currently stock four of their beers but as soon as we have room on shelf, we’ll stock more as we’ve been impressed with pretty much everything we’ve tried so far. This brown ale hopped with Citra, Chinook and Centennial has something rather delicate about it, while not skimping on any flavour. Brown ales make for terrific matches for food and the strong malt base makes them an especially good partner for meat. However this is such a tasty, subtle beer, you could probably match it with anything.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 7: Partizan Lemongrass Saison, 4.4% (SE London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Partizan says: Not much.

We say: Andy from Partizan inherited the Kernel's old kit back in 2009 and he and his team have been cooking up great short-batch beers in Bermondsey ever since. We’ve stocked this from the very day we opened and we’ve never met a dish it doesn’t like. Lightly perfumed, floral and zesty, it’s a perfect accompaniment for food, and a knock-out match for Thai curry. (Try it for yourself at Peckham’s own Begging Bowl - it gets the full HB&B seal of approval.) Also: kudos to Alec Doherty for the amazing label design. Every label tells a story and no two are the same.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 6: Orbit Nico Koln Style Lager, 4.8% (SE London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Orbit says: "Our take on the traditional beers of Cologne. Light, crisp and fragrant."

We say: Lager is often the unloved sibling of the beer world thanks to the indignities heaped upon it by big brewing over the years, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Breweries such as Orbit are doing amazing things to restore lager’s good name. This is a fantastic tribute to the traditional Kolsch style - and if we needed further proof of its greatness, along with Augustiner Lagerbier Hells, this is the go-to beer the Kernel and Partizan brewing team drink when they visit the shop. Praise doesn't come higher than that.