The Brew Wales 12 favourite draught real ale beers. Beers with strong, hoppy flavours do tend to dominate, but then life is too short to drink bland beer.
- Fullers ESB A fantastic strong ale at 5.5% ABV with a most complex hoppy nose. The beer is dry-hopped in the cask and this can produce flavour changes in the cask as it is served, a two-day opened cask has a more hoppy aroma than a fresh cask. This beer benefits from exceptional cellar skills and is one of the beers that persuaded Brew Wales to start drinking real ales but then that's another story!
- Otley O1 Light-coloured, hoppy beer with a wonderful thirst-quenching taste. The Otley boys really like their hops and this beer is no exception.
- Wye Valley HPA An outstanding pale ale, always a favourite at local beer festivals. Light and hoppy this is always on favourite on a hot sunny day, or a cold wet day in Hereford.
- Fullers Chiswick Another dry-hopped ale from Fullers. Unfortunately it is rarely seen in the free trade in Wales and Brew Wales has the difficult decision in Fullers pubs whether to have an ESB or a Chiswick.
- Fullers London porter. Stunning but rarely available on draught, London Drinker Beer festival can usually manage to get a 9 or two. Even the bottled, pasteurised version packs a powerful flavour.
- Brains Dark An old favourite, the dark and delicious flavours of Brains Dark always go down well on a visit to Cardiff.
- Oakham JHB at 3.8% ABV, this is proof that beer and real ale in particular does not have to have high ABVs to be packed full of flavour. Citrus flavours and floral notes appear in this light-coloured thirst quenching ale.
- Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 5.9% ABV. Probably the closest thing to a real IPA, not the bland dishwater that Charington used to knock out in London under that name. Jaipur IPA is hoppy and very easy to drink, the strength is deceptive and according to the Cynical Dragon “It does make a good chaser for Otley O8”.
- Rhymney Dark 4% ABV. Roast flavours dominate in this beer, the 'mild' or 'dark' style as it was known throughout South Wales once dominated the pubs throughout the industrial heartlands. Good to see that Rhymney Brewery resurrected this style and packed full of flavour.
- Otley Columb-O. Experimenting with the fantastic Columbus hop from America, the Otley boys came up with this wonderful, light-coloured hoppy ale. Otley brewery have now bought the entire UK supply of this hop. The latest version of Columb-O Brew Wales had the fortune to try had also been dry-hopped in the cask for a month. Naturally it sold out down Cardiff Bay International Food Festival. And some brewers in Wales still insist that bland beers are what the public wants to drink.
- Otley O8. 8% ABV. At this strength it is hardly what one would call a session ale but Brew Wales and the Lone Voice did manage a session on it the day that Peter Hain MP resigned over dodgy donations to his Leadership Campaign. The hoppy, floral tones of this golden ale mellowed with the satisfaction of seeing the perma-tanned twit having to resign in disgrace.
- Purple Moose Snowdonia Ale 3.6%. Another example of a real ale that does not have to have a strong ABV to win awards. Light, hoppy and full of flavour, the Snowdonia is always a favourite at local festivals.
Well there we have it, the Brew Wales top 12 of real ales, I'm sure my readers have their favourites as well.