Top 15 Beers of 2022

This is nothing like as long-winded as my annual wrap-up; instead, a short-and-sweet list of my favourite beers of 2022, and what made them stand out. While some were simply objectively well-made beers, for others, it was about the people, places and experiences they accompanied that made them stand out.

Without further ado, my top 15, in chronological order:

Beer: Rascals Pilot #45 Oatmeal Stout, 4.3%
When: 15th Jan ’22
Where: Rascals Brewing HQ, Dublin, Ireland
Why: While I love a good oatmeal stout, I rarely come across any I rate this highly. But the combination of a night out with beer-loving friends – something that was still something of a novelty at this point – great pizza and a very fresh pint made this one stand out. It was very much kicking off the new year right.

Beer: Rascals Rude Girl Black IPA, 6%
Where: Rascals Brewing HQ, Dublin, Ireland
When: 24 Feb ’22
Why: Yes, right back to Rascals…this was a fantastically fun night out – friends, ska music (I even got out my red and black plaid trousers and tall silver DMs for the occasion), and some new beer releases. I’ve been smitten with (good) Black IPAs since Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous was just the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, back in 2007, and Rude Girl seemed designed for me. I loved it so much I also toasted my new job with a can of this at home…but more on that later.

Beer: Ballykilcavan Export Bambrick’s Brown Ale, 7.8% 
Where: Dead Centre Brewing, Athlone, Ireland
When: 26 Feb ’22
Why: IT WAS ON CASK. True, but that wasn’t the only reason, despite it being the first time I’d had any cask beer in Ireland since 2019. The occasion was an in-person Craic Beer Community meet-up, and it was both my first time seeing many online friends in person, and my first time visiting Dead Centre and trying their beers on-site, which were all excellent. But the visiting Ballykilcavan cask was a special treat, and it was well worth traveling for. I love the standard Bambrick’s Brown in any case – like Yards Brawler (more on that later), it’s nearly the Platonic ideal of beer for me – so this was extra-special.

Dry & Bitter BrewingBeer: Dry & Bitter Brewing Company Christian Bale Ale, 4.6%
Where: Carlsens Kvarter, Odense, Denmark
When: 27 Mar ’22
Why: While part of the excitement was the novelty of being on my first work trip since 2020, coupled with the opportunity to meet my new colleagues in person, the atmosphere and attention to detail at Carlsens Kvarter played no small part in this being a ‘great beer experience.’ This is a wonderful beer bar, with a carefully-chosen lineup and knowledgeable staff. This beer was a recommendation, and it was spot-on – fresh, flavourful and hit all the right notes.

Beer: Trouble Brewing Silver Lining Dark Mild, 3.4%
Where: The Black Sheep, Dublin, Ireland
When: 22 April ’22
Why: As a mild-loving weirdo, I was Watching the Socials, waiting for this beer to be tapped, and when word came through it was on, I immediately power-walked over to The Black Sheep, where I ran into more lovely beer friends, so what started off as an impromptu quick pint turned into a mini-session over a really pleasant few refills. Simply put, it was a low-key afternoon out, accompanied by the perfect beer. Cheers to Trouble.

Beer: Crew Brewing Co Vanilla Milk Stout, 5.1%
Where: Crew Brewing Company, Limerick, Ireland
When: 30 April ’22
Why: I had a fantastic trip to Limerick with my fellow Beer Ladies in 2021, but this was my first time back with the family. We were in town so I could participate in the Great Limerick Run, and I fully believe this beer, consumed the night before, is a key reason I ran so quickly in the half-marathon the next day; new PB! As always with Crew, everything was delicious all around – and if you haven’t listened to our podcast episode with them, do so now!

The Carpenter's ArmsBeer: Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter, 4%
Where: Carpenter’s Arms, London, England
When: 20 Jun ’22
Why: First, I adore bitters, especially cask bitters, and they are rare beasts in Ireland, As Is Known. This was also the very first time I got to meet one of my former colleagues/direct reports from my previous Job from the Abyss, after more than two years of working together. I was also back in London for my first proper work conference in years, so this pub session was setting up some excitement on both the professional and leisure-time front, in the form of Much Theatre. But most importantly for our discussion here, the cask was well-kept (alas, not something I could say of all other pubs visited on this trip); it was in absolutely perfect condition. I may have had a few.

At The Deer's HeadBeer: Bell’s Brewery Capstan Australian Pale Ale, 4.7%
Where: The Deer’s Head, Belfast, Northern Ireland
When: 16 Aug ’22
Why: It was tricky to pick just one beer from The Deer’s Head in-house brewery, Bell’s (not that one – yes, I will say this each time I mention it, especially since I just found a bottle of Two-Hearted in my in-laws’ pantry), as I also really enjoyed their Berliner Lager and Red Cow Red Ale, but given that I went back for this one a few times during our stay, it was a real standout. This was a family trip and neither the Smaller One nor the Young Adult One were in foul moods during our multiple Deer’s Head visits, so there must be something magical about the place, beyond its beautiful décor and excellent beer. I hope to make it back up again soon.

Beer: Schilling Beer Co. Konstantin Märzen, 5%
Where: As Is, NYC, USA
When: 17 Sept ’22
Why: I tend to prefer American Oktoberfest/Märzen interpretations (sorry not sorry), and this one was absolutely in my wheelhouse. Add in this being my first trip back to NYC (again, for work, but I made time for the usual theatre and food) since 2019 and the beer being incredibly fresh, and served by friendly, well-read staff and you have the perfect setup for a solo pint or two. Yes, I *liked* the Heady Topper I also had while in town, but this was much more to my taste.

Beer: Lough Gill Brewery If I Was in LA IPA, 6.8%
Where: Our Living Room, Dublin, Ireland
When: 21 Oct ’22
Why: No special night out, no friends over…just a normal Friday family pizza night. This is one of those occasions where the beer itself was the star – a proper, old-school American IPA. Clear as anything, nice malty backbone and piney hops for days. Gorgeous.

Lord MarplesBeer: Thornbridge Lord Marples Bitter, 4%
Where: The Market Cat, York, England
When: 2 Nov ’22
Why: Again, a beautiful cask bitter, though it was hard to pick just one, not only from this trip, but from this lunchtime session, accompanied by tasty pizza and cordial children, as the Simcoe Bitter was also top-notch. Really, we didn’t have a bad beer at any point in York…certainly a reason to make plans for another trip back at some point.

Beer: Galway Bay Brewing Oregon Grown: Columbus, Centennial, Chinook, Cascade IPA, 6.4%
Where: Against the Grain, Dublin, Ireland
When: 16 Nov ’22
Why: One of those full-disclosure I-got-invited events – Against the Grain’s re-opening after a refresh. House beers were, appropriately enough, on the house, and the usual complement of local beer geeks was on full display (and I’m more than happy to count myself in their number). But like the Lough Gill IPA, this beer is a throwback to those American IPAs that used to be everywhere, before everything went hazy. I’m sure there’s a joke in that.

Hope Beer Winter PorterBeer: Hope Beer Winter Seasonal Dublin Porter, 6%
Where: Our Kitchen, Dublin, Ireland
Date: 12 Dec ’22 (and others)
Why: I loved all of Hope’s seasonals this year, especially the Amber Lager, but this one has been my cold-weather go-to. I’ve used it on multiple festive Beer Ladies Podcast recordings, and it’s actually a bit of a surprise that I do love this beer, since ‘smoke’ is not typically my thing, but it’s very subtle in this, and just adds a bit more colour to an already-flavourful porter. Delicious.

Beer: Lough Gill Ogham Imperial Milk Stout with Cocoa Nibs, 10%
Where: The Underdog, Dublin, Ireland
When: 15 Dec ’22
Why: Although not my first visit back to The Underdog since its rebirth, it was my first ‘couples’ night out’ there, and, cold as it was, this was beautifully warming. I love this series from Lough Gill for its amazing can designs, with nods to Irish archaeology, so it counts as using my degrees – another bonus. Having said that, I rarely buy the cans since it’s tough to have an ‘occasion’ for a 10% beer, but getting a glass of it was ideal – rich, very chocolate-y but not too sweet, and deceptively easy to drink, but an ideal winter sipper in any case.

Beer: Yards Brewing Co. Brawler Mild, 4.2%
Where: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, USA
When: 21 Dec ’22
Why: As with Ballykilcavan Bambrick’s Brown, Brawler is simply an objectively perfect beer; I’d be quite happy to have a permanent tap for each one in my home, though that would be a bit of a difficulty getting the pipe from Philly to Dublin working undersea. While this occasion was accompanied by a smaller child jetlag-fuelled meltdown and only-adequate semi-outdoor pizza, it hardly detracted – the beautiful holiday lights around the gardens and the Brawler made the evening festive.

Honourable Mentions
Without making this too much longer, I did want to share a few other ‘wow-that-was-good’ joy-inducing beers from 2022, including: Dead Centre’s Sham Maths (AMBER ALE JOY), Bryggeriet Flakhaven’ Brown Beauty (BROWN ALE JOY), Isaac Poad’s Piccadilly Porter (CASK PORTER JOY), Ballykilcavan Clancy’s Cans #11 – Maple & Pecan Brown Ale (EVEN YUMMIER BROWN ALE JOY), 2SP Brewing Eastwood IPA (WEST COAST IPA JOY), Garage Beer Co Fractal Hook Dunkel (DUNKEL JOY), and, last but not least, Rascals Brewing Pilot #48 – Table Beer (TABLE BEER JOY).

See you in 2023!

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