24. Anspach & Hobday The Pfeffernusse Stout
A&H says: Based on the German Christmas biscuit of the same name, the Pfeffernüsse Stout brings together a rich, malty stout with the perfect blend of festive spice. Ginger and cinnamon dominate the nose with biscuity malts and warming spices joining on the palate.
We say: Merry Christmas everyone!
23. Brick Lingonberry & Sloe Sour
Brick says: A heavily-fruited jammy modern sour ale, fermented with our house Lactobacillus and Kveik yeast and conditioned on Lingonberry juice and Sloe puree.
We say: HB&B and Brick couldn't be much more closely linked, from being Jen and Glenn's residential neighbours in Peckham to now being our neighbours across the way in Deptford too with the new(ish) brewery site. And with the new home, Brick has pumped out even more excellent beer this year than ever before to adorn our shelves. With eye-catching can designs reminiscent of wallpaper and TfL upholstery, you can't miss Brick's ever-changing collection of sour beers. Lingonberry & Sloe is up there with the best of this year with its deep purple hue enticing the eyes before a big jammy tart hit of wintery fruity goodness, with lingonberry taking centre stage. - Toby
22. Lervig Christmas Cream Porter
Lervig says: Our Nitro Porter is the perfect festive drink. Brewed to be a light porter, the added lactose gives the body needed to complement deep chocolate flavour and cinnamon undertones, though it has enough bitterness to balance everything out. We then packaged it into Nitro cans, so you’ll get a beautiful, thick cascading foam with all the richness you want and need for a holiday beer, but at 4.7% it will leave enough room in your belly for Christmas dinner.
We say: We’ve now passed the winter solstice and continue our rush towards Christmas with today’s beer, Christmas Cream, from our Norwegian friends at Lervig. Their Stavanger based brewery often operates at the extremes of our shop. Their non-alcoholic No Worries line has leant credence to a category historically derided by ye fellow connoisseur, while heavy hitters like 3 Bean Stout have long been imperial favourites. At 5% this Nitro Porter (remember to pour all in one go) fits right in the middle. It has the perfect amount of roasty creaminess to warm you up on a cold winter day and enough holiday spice to remind yourself you still have three more gifts to purchase. - Caleb
21. Signature Brew x The Darkness Bells End Extra Seasonal Bitter
Signature Brew says: This warming winter beer was brewed with our friends in The Darkness and sees English hops unleash a mouth-watering bitterness to carry you through the season… just don’t let the bells end.
We say: Gather round children, Grandma has a Christmas tale for you... Back in ancient times, 2003 to be precise, an English beat combo called The Darkness set out to achieve pop music's loftiest triumph, the securing of a phenomenon called The Christmas No 1. Sadly, they failed in their aim, losing out to a maudlin Tears For Fears cover, but went on to retire comfortably on the royalties from being included on every Christmas compilation album for the rest of time. Your humble storyteller witnessed their song, Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) being performed live at the Brixton Academy that very same month, back when people could congregate in groups and yell and smoke and sweat over other people. And just 17 years later, this beer you hold in your hand was born. - Jen
20. Drop Project Shifty DDH New England Pale Ale
Drop Project says says: This 5.2% Double Dry hopped New England Pale serves up a delicious medium body with a creamy mouthfeel. Fermented with Vermont yeast, packed full of Citra and Mosaic hops and dry hopped with enhanced pellets, it’s a punchy combination of fruity, tropical and citrus notes!
We say: For me, Drop Project has been the best new brewery to hit our shelves this year. Just over a year old, the Drop Project team have been brewing out of Missing Link Brewery in West Sussex, and as a self confessed joose head, I think they’ve been producing some of the best haze/hop forward beers that I’ve enjoyed all year (Vanguard, Noseslide and Focus, I’m looking at you). Drop Project was founded by three friends, who shared a love for surf and snow, and more importantly good bevs. And having just taken delivery of their own brew kit in local-ish Mitcham, we expect big things from them in 2021. Shifty is Drop Project's ‘core’ New England Pale Ale, with ripe melon aromas and a fresh, fruity thirst-quenching zing. A perfect beer to drink time and time again. Stay Shifty, Drop Project... - John
19. Left Handed Giant No Photos West Coast IPA
LHG says: True to the style inspired by the IPAs of the West Coast of the USA, No Photos is hop forward, easy drinking and clear as day. The understated malt profile allows the hop character to shine, boasting big tropical fruity notes balanced by a prominent, piney bitterness.
We say: We would all like to roll back time a bit to when we could visit friends, travel around and drink in our favourite local. In Bristol, this meant gathering at Left Handed Giant’s incredible Brewpub alongside the River Avon. It’s become one of the best hangout spots near the city centre and definitely the best spot to enjoy LHG’s hazy IPAs and surreal stouts. LHG even came out with a new Brewpub range brewed right on premise, with their fruited sours particularly flying off our shelves. With No Photos, the LHG team have decided to take rolling back time into their own hands - a West Coast IPA brewed with Columbus to provide an ample bitterness but with added Citra to prevent it rising too far up the IBU scales. Drinking No Photos both harkens back and makes us giddy for what the near future holds. - Caleb
18. Beak Parade IPA
Beak says: A 6% IPA brewed with London Fog yeast along with prodigious amounts of Citra, Mosaic and Idaho-7 hops.
17. Burning Sky Robust Porter
Burning Sky says: Robust Porter uses the finest Maris Otter barley and a complex range of roast and crystal malts. Hopped with spicy Sussex grown Target hops, this rich and satisfying beer is sure to fortify you.
We say: East Sussex's legendary Burning Sky has always honoured tradition in its brewing. The team have mastered an array of Belgian hommages with their celebrated saisons and wild ales, while also expertly interpreting more familiar British styles. Robust Porter falls into the latter - notes of dark chocolate and coffee prevail in a no-nonsense porter perfect for the nights drawing in early over winter. In an ideal world this would be a delight on cask next to an open fire down the local, but as it is, it's doing the trick as I'm clinging to a mini-heater under our railway arch in windswept Deptford. - Toby
16. Makemake Space Soda IV
Makemake says: Tart, tropical, smooth bodied, mellow sour. Juicy grapefruit with a silk marshmallow sweetness.We say: Probably the youngest brewery in the box this year, Makemake (pronounced mah-kay-mah-kay) hails from Southsea in Hampshire. This beer is virtually (other than some direct sales) a HB&B exclusive, with the guys currently canning only a tiny amount, focusing on getting their limited supply out locally to a loyal fanbase. But Marc and Oli have big plans for 2021 - they’ll be taking delivery of a legendary (seriously) brew kit from one of the the UK’s best loved independent breweries (hint: it's featured in our calendar too) and moving into a new home. Space Soda is a series of sour beers, each featuring fruit and marshmallow, with this iteration showcasing pineapple and grapefruit. It's pure Lilt in a glass. Close your eyes and imagine those tropical holidays we were all denied this year, and drink to better times in 2021! - Nathan
St Bernardus says: St Bernardus Tokyo is famed for its hints of citrus, combined with likeable florals of chamomile and fruity yeast aromas of banana and red apple. Attentive beer fans may also detect a hint of clove and vanilla, as well as the typical esters of our unique St Bernardus yeast. A refreshing beer with a spicy aroma and a slight hint of bitterness and sourness on the back of the palate! A real treat for the more adventurous beer fan.
Utopian says: 100% British-grown Lager and Vienna malts, a traditional decoction mash to develop the malt flavour and body, and generous hopping with the variety Godiva, ensure this lager is as bold as it is easy drinking.
We say: Beer trends are, as with other trends like clothing or designer dog breeds, inherently mercurial. There will always be movement and with it strange deviations. We all remember the brief vogue of Brut IPAs. Along this never-ending Bayeux tapestry of bevs, there are undeniable Czech points that are repeatedly revered and will never truly fade from our minds and glasses. Ten Degrees is a wonderful addition to the many homages that the Czech lager style inspires. But enough of my highfalutin praise. I think it is best left to the words of Sir Thomas Moore, who incidentally loved to get on the sesh:
"Utopianism, some argue, is essential for the improvement of the beer drinking condition. But if brewed wrongly, it becomes dangerous. Utopian Ten Degrees Czech Session Lager has an inherent malt-forward, moreish nature that is here to stay." - Lewis
Siren says: The beer that started it all. Caribbean Chocolate Cake is a dense, rich and luxurious stout – even more so this year with the smooth, thick drinking nitro edition. The body of this beer is full and decadent, encapsulating the ‘Cake’ element in the name more than ever before! Hand-roasted cacao nibs give hints of tamarind and soft lemon, along with a beautiful chocolate baseline. The malts provide coffee and roast notes in abundance, while the hop profile adds orange and coconut flavours. Spinning on Cypress wood is the icing on the cake, offering lightly toasted vanilla wafers and delicate tannins, balancing the inherent sweetness of the beer. Pure canned indulgence.
We say: We always look forward to Siren’s annual Caribbean Chocolate Cake release. For me, it almost marks the start of the festive season. As the nights draw in and Christmas is almost in touching distance, these cracking tropical stouts arrive! This year's series featured this beer, the headline Caribbean Chocolate Cake stout, with an added nitro bonus. As the can advises, a hard and fast pour (preferably in your largest glass) will give you the full nitro cascade visual effect. On the nose, I get pure chocolate cake; on first gulp, the nitro stars, adding a smooth and velvety body. Plenty of chocolate, orange notes and coffee make this a truly decadent drop. And at 7.4%, it’s a nice Sunday evening beer. Enjoy hard! - John
We say: We always tip a hat to our Kiwi roots each advent and this year we've gone with Deep Creek's East Side IPA, a hazy, juicy collaboration with Wellington's legendary Fork Brewing, headed up by all-round lovely dude Kelly Ryan. It's been strange this year to see our NZ friends and family enjoying restaurants, raves and rugby matches as if nothing were amiss, but it hasn't been unbearable - instead, watching people have fun and lead normal lives has acted as a beacon of hope, a little reminder of what our lives will be like here once this is all over. With that in mind, let's raise a glass to the promise of a Covid-free future with a delicious beer from a country that proves it can be done. - Jen
11. Verdant x DEYA Degrees Double IPA
Verdant says: We’ve teamed up with our mates DEYA again! This time for an 8% DIPA boasting an excessive degree of juiciness. Amarillo and Loral hops in the whirlpool set proceedings off in style, swiftly followed by a punchy double-dry-hop of Citra and Simcoe. We’ve tinkered and experimented with the hot and cold additions like any self respecting juice adventurers would when attempting to push those hazy boundaries. What does that mean in terms of flavour, you ask? Well, you’ll have to find out, won’t you…
Polly's says: When we were working with our amazing pals at North Brewing Co last year, we were astounded at how little whirlpool hops they added in the first stage of the brewing process. Imparting less bitterness is something we've been keen to explore in our beers, and we achieved this through bringing the whirlpool temp down, and whirlpooling for much less time, meaning more hops for dry-hopping! Almost 40kg of Citra, Enigma, Galaxy, Mosaic, and Simcoe ended up going into this beer during fermentation, and the results stand for themselves. An absolute juice bomb of a beer, and possibly our best to date.
We say: One of the few consistencies of this crazy year for me has been starting my shift and seeing which new Polly’s Brews have come in. The weekly drops of hazy pales, IPAs, and DIPAs have occupied a larger portion of our shelf space than ever before(with a few saisons, sours and stouts making their way into our deliveries over the course of the year too). Since starting two years ago, Polly’s has continuously got better and better, quickly becoming the go to for many of us out there who come into the shop and wonder what new treat to sit down to at the end of the day. No Polly’s Brew better conveys this than Pines.
While the name might evoke a dank bitterness from days of IPAs past, make no mistake, Polly’s have brought all of the East Coast IPA hop superstars to showcase in this mix, providing an absolute onslaught of juicy flavour with citrus and mango coming particularly to the forefront. Undoubtedly one for the IPA drinker who wants to have it all. - Caleb
Villages says: A pale yellow, hazy New England IPA hopped with Cashmere. Silky, full mouthfeel and a soft carb. Loads of oats and Yakima Chief Cashmere hops. Flavours of grapefruit, tropical fruit, crème caramel, melon.
We say: Our Deptford neighbours Villages have had a big year with a new brewhouse, new branding, some delicious tweaks to their existing core range and a steady stream of brilliant specials. Snorkel is one such special, this time showing off the Cashmere hop (backed up by old faithful Citra of course), a gloriously oaty NEIPA with all the tropical fruit flavours you’d expect and a slightly sweet malt body to enjoy. Villages have one of the nicest brewery and taproom teams in beer, with brothers Archie and Louis having created a welcoming space at the heart of Deptford with beers that are now starting to draw them the kind of attention their (and our) little corner of South East London deserves. - Nathan
We say: When Bates and Miranda first told us about their Grand Design of a brewery build in West Acre, Norfolk, we were ever so slightly incredulous. Building a brewery is one thing, but restoring a derelict listed barn in the process? You'd have to be completely mad - or Bates and Miranda, because if ever one couple were going to get this enormous undertaking done, it's these guys. But not only did they build an amazing brewery and immaculately restore a ruined barn, they've created a community at the same time, working tirelessly throughout this year to show off their facility and bring people all over the country and the world together through virtual brewery tours and events. And if that wasn't enough, they've kept brewing my favourite beer of the year - this one - and somehow made it even better each time. Cheers to you, Team Duration. Look forward to dragon dancing again soon. - Glenn
‘Shall I inform Brew Team Alpha to cease operations? I’m afraid we’re at capacity.’
No response. ‘Mr Johnson? Mr Jones? Did you not hear me? I sa-’
Johnson pressed the intercom switch and both his and Jones’s voices spoke as though they were of one man. ‘Brew Teams Alpha and Beta. Increase prunus persica invigoration.’
‘Gentlemen, you’re not listening to me. There are more peaches in that tank right now than in the rest of the city! The flavour will be too intense! You can’t possi-’
‘All brew teams. Fifty kilos of additional prunus persica.’
‘Listen to me! No human being will be able to comprehend the cosmic amount of peaches and their inherent sweet persipanian flavour crammed into 330 millilitres! Even the tart, biting sourness and rich biscuity finish won’t come close to handling the sheer intensity of peach!’
‘All Brew Teams. Execute final prunus persica invigoration. Eighty kilos!’
The glass of the gauge cracked as the air inside the entire facility began to thicken and a roseate hew took over his vision. He began to lose his balance, overcome with the heaven scent of stone fruit and clotted cream. ‘Damn you both, it cannot be done!’
‘Begin canning the nectar.’ - Lewis
Elusive says: We love a Black IPA here at Elusive and this takes our Shadow of the Beast and amps everything up. Star of the show is NZ newcomer Nectaron which is like Nelson on steroids with a lick of dankness.
We say: BIPA COMEBACK!!!!
We bloody love Black IPAs and we love Elusive Brewing too. As well as being "the nicest guy in brewing", Elusive founder Andy Parker is also one of the most skilled brewers in the business and 2020 has seen his beers reach a wider audience. This highly rated Black IPA is yet another example of his exceptional craftsmanship. Roasty yet hoppy, Drift is a pitch-perfect showcase of the style and ideal Sunday night sipping. - Jen
Neon Raptor says: Single-hopped DIPA. The second in the series of single-hopped DIPAs. Simcoe FTW!
We say: Neon Raptor didn’t brew a beer between March and August, much to our chagrin. But luckily for us, and you, Neon Raptor is back, and possibly better than ever before. This beer is the second in their single hopped DIPA series, and it is pure jooooose. Showcasing Simcoe, this beer has apricot and passion fruit on the nose, with sweet orange and earthy pine tones on the gulp. Dank for days, this beer is hard to put down. Happy Saturday night! - John
Pressure Drop says: Taste the full expression of Mosaic on a soft and pillowy New England base. It is one of our absolute favourite hops for good reasons.
We say: Pressure Drop has been with us from the start and it's a firm 'go to' for all the team when the staffy beers are being decided at the end of a shift. This New England IPA shows off Mosaic at its best, with bold mango upfront backed up by subtle berry notes and a hint of bubblegum on a classic soft malt base. While 2020 has felt like forever, beers of this quality have helped pass the long days and nights in the best way possible. We're looking forward to finally getting back to the taproom and The Experiment in 2021. Cheers! - Nathan
2. Boxcar Breakin' Lasers West Coast Pale Ale
Boxcar says: Super piney, subtle toast and caramel, dry sulphate finish. Simcoe, Chinook and Amarillo Cryo hops. Classic West Coast yeast and a high carbonation.
1. DEYA Brewery Saturated in Nelson DIPA
They say: 100% Nelson DIPA with Clayton Hops CY2020 Nelson Sauvin. We have recently started working directly with Clayton Hops in NZ - what better way to explore some fresh Nelson hops than our Saturated series! White grape, citrus rind and pine. Delicious!
We say: We always kick off the box with a bang and what a way to start. 2020 has been an annus horribilis in so many ways, but one small ray of sunshine has been the accessibility to more lovely stuff from Cheltenham's wonderful DEYA. We love working with these guys and have been so pleased to be able to bring you so much of their hopped-up goodness this year - even twisting their arm to get our hands on 192 cans of this for the advent... This is without a doubt one of the best DIPAs we've tasted - and the hops even come from my hometown. Cheers and enjoy the next 23 days! - Jen