I'm not going to distinguish from now on between beers I've had before and those I haven't, when I choose my beers of the month. The only beers which are excluded are past winners. I'm not as bothered about seeking out new beers as I once was, and am far happier revisiting stuff I know is good.
January was a quiet month on the beer front as it usually is. I didn't get out much and the beers in the garage are so cold I just couldn't be bothered bringing them in and getting them to a desirable temperature.
As far as cask beers went I enjoyed Ascot On The Rails a dark bitter from a brewery I've consistently enjoyed. Castle Rock Black Gold in the brewery tap: The Vat & Fiddle in Nottingham; was as good as ever; a roasty yet citric mild, very much a modern beer. But the best cask ale was Thornbridge Jaipur IPA in The Kean's Head, also in Nottingham. This is the first time I've had this beer through a handpump and I think that extra pressure really brought out the fantastic hop flavours. I'm hoping to get to The Coach & Horses in Dronfield in May; that'll be a lot of fun.
As far as bottles go I had real high hopes for Struise Mikkeller. When two fantastic brewers get together and produce a 9% hop monster IIPA, then I've got to be excited. Except I didn't get a hop bomb. What I did get was a strong Belgian ale with that Struise sweetness. I did enjoy it but it fell short of my expectations and desires.
Far better was the first beer I had this year: Fullers Vintage Ale 2006 was as complexly fruity, bready, malty, hoppy and vinuous as I've come to expect from these annual offerings. A great beer which just shades the Jaipur as overall Beer Of The Month.