December truly was a quiet month for new beers partly for the reasons mentioned yesterday. In total just 35 new beers passed my lips, nicely balanced between cask ales and bottled stuff.
The first cask ale worthy of mention was Wooden Hand Black Pearl. I've not been impressed by the previous beers I've had from this Cornish micro, but this was a nice salty, smoky stout. Following that came Adnams Explorer, the second beautifully hopped Adnams beer I've had in a row after the bottled beauty that was Innovation. This beer has Columbus and Chinook, but these are quite delicately used, and give more of an impression of a well hopped English style beer than an American hop bomb. The third good cask beer was Quercus QB found in The Romany in Northampton whilst delivering our branch newsletter. This is a pub I must get to more often if they are going to come up trumps not only with great beers but also with new breweries for me. As for the beer, it was a dark malty full flavored beer with chocolate, caramel, coffee, bread and fruit in the mouth and nose. Fourth and finally came Great Oakley Santa's Yuletide Log, this year's Christmas offering from my local brewer. This exceeded expectations with roasty flavors, as well as sourness and a great late bitterness. And yes, it had that chocolate finish we were promised. I had it twice during the month and it was excellent both times, and is a worthy cask beer of the month.
As for the bottles, two really stood out and they were both from Danish brewer Mikkeller: Stateside India Pale Ale is full of juicy citric hoppiness. Flavours of oranges and lychees abound on the tongue. It really was a fruity bitter number which I am pleased still to have another of. Still good but not quite as good was All Others Pale. This slightly less strong beer is still very hoppy, but this time they are more piney. Also very tasty and well brewed as I have come to expect from Mikkel.
It was a close call, but Stateside just beats Santa's Yuletide Log as overall beer of the month, maybe I'll get to try the latter again before it all runs out?