Food & Drink

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried

Posted by
Chris Sayer
Published
Northern Monk Craft Beer Cans

You… you DID it? You actually… did it! Dry January: completed. Hundred percented. Nailed. We were never in ANY doubt that you had it in you. Not like your co-workers. And your friends. And your mum, and your girlfriend. We believed. (Yeah, obviously, we’re not including that frosty train tin you had on your way back from your Christmas – that was essential to your locomotive survival. And that sneaky whisky you had when back-to-work anxiety crept in? Let it slide! And that five-pint session after work technically wasn’t your fault). And with the planet’s most gruelling endurance race under your belt, it’s time to celebrate, by getting stuck right back into the booze.

But a feat of such seismic magnitude cannot possibly be commemorated with a lowly fistful of six-for-a-fiver Polish lagers bought from your corner shop. No no no. After all that brave abstinence? We won’t allow it! Which is why this has happened. Why this now exists.

We’ve gathered the UK’s 12 most powerful and knowledgeable beer authorities from all corners of the beer spectrum - bottle shops, magazines, podcasts, authors and more – to decide upon the definitive, ultimate, perfect list of craft beers you should – nay, must - drink to toast your booze-free success. You’re about to see delicious IPAs that you’ll already be familiar with, bottled blueberry insanity that you won’t have seen before, and a ‘Canadian Breakfast Stout’ that is so outrageous that its existence surely angers God himself. Crack into these bad boys, you hero…

Beavertown/Verdant – Shut Up And Play The Hits! (Double IPA, 8.8%)

Beavertown Shut Up and Play the Hits

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“Here’s a collab between the north London faves, Beavertown, and Cornwall’s fresh-faced Verdant. It’s big on the mango, full bodied, hazy, brilliantly fruity, and so amazingly smooth that you won’t even notice the rocketing ABV.” - Phill and Steph Palgrave-Elliott, founders of Caps & Taps bottle shop

3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze (Sour/Gose, 6%) 

3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze (Sour/Gose, 6%)

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“Every beer drinker needs to try a geuze once in their lives, and you should really make it this one. Honestly, it is the textbook example. It’s perfection.” – Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

Burnt Mill Brewery – Steel Cut (Pale Ale, 4.5%)

Burnt Mill Steel Cut

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“You won’t believe it’s gluten free. If you can’t find this tasty GF number, opt for anything from this exciting new Suffolk farmhouse brewery - every single beer they’ve released to date has been top notch.” – Jen Ferguson, co-founder of Hop, Burns & Black bottle shop

Atom Beers – Neutron Star (Imperial Stout, 12.6%)

Atom Beers Neuton Star

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“A deep, dark, luxurious stout brewed with vanilla pods and Guatemalan coffee beans. Rich with dark chocolate and coffee flavours, but balanced by a mild sweetness that creates a great body without being too sweet and sickly.” - Simon James, co-founder of craft beer magazine Hop & Barley

Tegernsee – Tegernseer Hell (Lager, 4.8%)

Tegernsee Lager

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“Lager is the world’s greatest drink, and this is the most heavenly Hell. I honestly believe that everyone needs an ever-present favourite lager, and this is always in my fridge, alongside another classic Bavarian lager, Augustiner Helles.” Mark Dredge, award-winning author of multiple beer books

Founders Brewing Co. – CBS (Imperial Stout, 11.7%)

Founders CBS Canadian Breakfast Stout

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“A Canadian Breakfast Stout that’s aged in bourbon barrels that used to hold maple syrup. With that flavour, roasted coffee, smooth chocolate and vanilla, it’s not hard to see why it’s been making some real noise. And It’s just reaching the UK on keg now.” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

Belleville Brewing Co. – Picnic (Session IPA, 4.4%)

Belleville Picnic

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“A staple fridge beer should be something you can have plenty of without getting bored. This is just the ticket. The aroma leaps into your face, whilst eight different American hops get to work on your palate.” – James Hickson, founder of We Brought Beer bottle shop

Lost & Grounded – Keller Pils (Pilsner, 4.8%)

Lost and Grounded Keller Pils

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“It’s time we realised just how good lagers and pilsners can be. This wonderfully clean and easy-drinking pilsner, brewed with traditional German hops and malt in Bristol, has the power to have you ditching the macro brews for good.” – Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

Stillwater – Super Hop (IPA, 6%)

Stillwater Superhop

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“These guys are a vastly underrated US gypsy brewery (meaning they don’t have their own brewery, they use other people’s facilities), and produce incredible hop-forward beers. Every single thing I’ve tried from them has been exceptional. Especially this.” – Alex Fitzpatrick, co-owner of Ghost Whale bottle shop

The Kernel – Imperial Brown Stout (10.1%) 

Kernel Imperial Brown Stout

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“Ooof, we have a monster, but one with superb balance and complexity. Silky waves of black fruits, cocoa, leather and smoke all come and go before a roasted coffee finish. Get out your finest glassware, cut some cheese and marvel.” – Tom McKim, founder of Clapton Craft bottle shop

Fierce Beer/BrewDog Aberdeen – Very Big Moose (Imperial Chocolate Stout, 12%)

BrewDog Very Big Moose

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“When I tried this team effort with BrewDog at Collabfest, I was just blown away. It’s sticky, creamy, and has hits of caramel and vanilla.”– Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

Siren – Odyssey 005 (Scotch Ale, 11.5%)

Siren Odyssey

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“A dark and brooding number that’s aged in both Banyuls (Pyrenean dessert wine) and Armagnac brandy barrels for 24 months then blended to create a rich, complex, decadent beer. Syrupy, woody, chocolatey, caramel heaven - the perfect end-of-the-night beer.” - Wes Anson, founder of Kill The Cat bottle shop

Northern Monk Brew Co. – New World IPA (6.2%)

Northern Monk New World IPA

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“Without doubt their flagship beer, Northern Monk bring together British malts and American hops for a perfect balance of citrus and a cutting bitter finish. It’s exceptionally smashable and easily accessible, too.” - Martin Oates and Steve Bentall, presenters of the Hopinions beer podcast

Summer Wine Brewing - Pico Diego (Pale Ale, 3.5%)

Summer Wine Pico Diego

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“Lower ABV beers are going to be a big thing this year. This one from the underrated Summer Wine Brewing is awesome. Big hop flavours, smooth, drinkable, and won’t get you completely ratted.” – Alex Fitzpatrick, co-owner of Ghost Whale bottle shop

Lervig – Tasty Juice (IPA, 6%)

Lervig Tasty Juice

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“The 99 score on RateBeer says it all. It might just be the best juicy IPA available in the UK, and from one of Norway’s most exciting breweries.” – James Hickson, founder of We Brought Beer bottle shop

Northern Monk Brewing Co./Track Brewing Co. – Don’t Look Batarang In Anger (IPA, 7.3%)

Batarang Northern Monk

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“Part of Northern Monk Patrons Projects, this limited-edition collaboration is bursting with peach, citrus and sweet tropical flavours, and rounded off with a subtle bitter finish. Oh, and the can design will look super cool in your mitt, too.” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

Garage Beer Co. – SOUP (IPA, 6%)

Garage Beer Soup

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“I drank a lot of this in Barcelona last year. It actually pours like a soup, and tastes hazy and funky, with a sensational tropical explosion. It’s an absolute stand-out in this real popular style of beer.” – Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

Thornbridge Brewery – Jaipur (IPA, 5.9%)

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried

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“It’s been around for more than 12 years, and is rarely bettered but often inspires. Fruity notes linger, before you’re hit with a nice and satisfying bitter finish, which, together, leaves you wanting to crack into another one.” - Martin Oates and Steve Bentall, presenters of the Hopinions beer podcast

 To Øl - 1 Ton Of… Blackcurrant (Sour, 5.5%)

tool blackcurrant

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“To Øl are easily one of the most consistently inventive and drinkable breweries in the world. Always fresh, always clean. This does exactly as it says on the tin - 1,000kg of blackcurrants per 1,000 litres. A deliciously refreshing sour.” – Alex Fitzpatrick, co-owner of Ghost Whale bottle shop

The Five Points Brewing Co. – Railway Porter (4.8%)

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried 1

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“Five Points may only be half a decade old, but beers like this traditional London porter have helped established them as one of the UK’s best. Expect chocolate, coffee and to not be able to stop at just one bottle.” - Martin Oates and Steve Bentall, presenters of the Hopinions beer podcast

Burning Sky – Saison A La Provision (Farmhouse Ale, 6.5%)

Burning Sky Saison

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“A testament to the growing maturity of the UK craft beer industry. It’s first fermented with a saison yeast then again with the brewery’s unique house culture in oak. It’s zesty, it’s herbal, it’s earthy.” – Tom McKim, founder of Clapton Craft bottle shop

Northern Monk Brew Co. – Heathen IPA (7.2%)

Northern Monk heathen

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“With a refinement of their core range, unmissable collabs and incredible specials, Northern Monk had one of the most impressive line-ups of 2017. If you’re after a new flavour-packed go-to IPA for 2018, then look no further than their Heathen!” – Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

Wild Beer Co. – Jambo! (Imperial Stout, 8.5%)

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried 2

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“It’s Black Forest gateau in a glass! And sold in a big 750ml wax sealed bottle, it’s a perfect sharer for when the cold weather creeps in.” - Simon James, co-founder of craft beer magazine Hop & Barley

Wylam Brewery – Swipe Right (Pale Ale, 4.7%)

Wylam Swipe Right

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“Unlike a lot of pale ales, this one’s a grower not a shower. It slowly wins you over with grapefruit, pineapple and kiwi pulp and nice smooth mouthfeel from the addition of oats and wheat. Pure lip-smacking juicy deliciousness.” - Wes Anson, founder of Kill The Cat bottle shop

Black Iris – Divine Elements (IPA, 6.0%) 

Black iris

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“Straight outta Nottingham, you’re getting a supreme example of the hazy, textured New England-style IPAs that are blowing up right now. It’s packed with mango, peach, lychee and pine aromas, in a real sexy can.” – Tom McKim, founder of Clapton Craft bottle shop

Brouwerij Kees – Caramel Fudge Stout (Imperial Stout, 11.5%)

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried 3

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“They say that this barrel-aged chocolate imperial stout will ‘seduce you’. And it will - it holds a fantastic mix of caramel and velvety chocolate with a dash of smooth, creamy vanilla, before a final warming and boozy finish.” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

The Kernel – Biere de Saison (Farmhouse Ale, 4.9% variable)     

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried 4

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“This was once a very limited edition beer, but it’s now thankfully more widely available in a range of varieties. Let’s not get too complex here - it’s one of the finest wild beers this country has produced.” – James Hickson, founder of We Brought Beer bottle shop

Whiplash – Rollover Session NE (IPA, 3.8%)

Whiplash Rollover

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“This Irish brewery smashes the preconception that low ABV session IPAs lack body and compensate with lots of bitterness. Even at 3.8%, they’ve produced an impressively and satisfyingly balanced offering that’ll change your mind about low booze beers.” – Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

Northern Monk Brewing Co. – Attack On The Blue Falcon (Black IPA, 7%)

Northern Monk Blue Falcon

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“This is the main event. It’s a taste experience that takes you where you’ve never been before. Smooth, fruity, earthy, roasted caramel flavours give way to blueberry tartness. A cracker of a taste trip.” - Wes Anson, founder of Kill The Cat bottle shop

The Kernel – Table Beer (Pale Ale, 2.9% - 3.4%)

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried 5

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“This one’s good fun, as it’s brewed with a different hop and a different ABV each time, will always be fresh to drink, and has strength that’ll let you enjoy plenty of bottles in one evening.” - Phill and Steph Palgrave-Elliott, founders of Caps & Taps bottle shop

Thornbridge Brewery – Halcyon (DIPA, 7.4%) 

The 31 craft beers to drink now Dry January is dead and buried 6

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“Forget the trend for tropical, hoppy, gravy beers, I want my IPAs dry, lean, bright and bitter. Halcyon is just that – a no-nonsense British powerhouse of an IPA, and I absolutely love it.” Mark Dredge, award-winning author of multiple beer books