Order Of Merit: Beers 17 to 24

To completement the main beer list I wanted to write a bit more on some of my favourite beers. A top 10 seemed too limiting and a top 50 seemed to lack discrimination so in the end I have settled on an Order Of Merit. Therefore you find here 24 beers, listed in alphabeticaly order, that I believe have shown distinguished service in bars across the world. Think of it as my ideal mixed case.

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Beer 17:
Ridgeway - Ivanhoe

A very English pale ale. Light ruby ale that is dry, crisp and bitter with a good lingering taste. Describes itself as perfectly balanced - and that isn't far off.

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Beer 18:
Schenkerla Aecht Rauchbier

Brewed in the German town of Bamburg this is a smoked ale that is aged in 700 year old cellars. Dark ruby coloured, almost black, beer with a smoky, burnt malty taste that is balanced by a slight caramel sweetness. Goes very well with smoked or spiced sausage. Initially similar to a porter, further tasting shows it to be distinctly different with a good depth of flavour and no coffee edge.

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Beer 19:
St Austell - Tribute

This is an everyday beer in the finest sense - a beer you could happily drink everyday. It has a light brown colour and a gentle malty taste that is never bland but is not overpowering either. It is almost elusive with each mouthful calling for another to try and tease out another subtlety in the taste. They say it's "moreishly drinkable", I just say more! The "Free Beer" they produce for Tate Modern is more radical but well worth a try.

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Beer 20:
Thiriez - Ambree du Esquelbecq

There are a range of artisan brewers in Northern France who seem to have inherited the Belgian flair for brewing and combined it with a Franch traditional laying beers down to age which produces what is known as "biere du garde". Due to France's wine tradition these beers can be difficult to find as these small French brewers are often ignored. Thiriez are a perfect example. Based on the outskirts of the small French village of Esquelbecq the bar no more than 50 metres from hte brewery sells Stella Artois but not the local brew. However pop into the breweries tasting room and you will be much better catered for. The Ambree is a dark amber beer with a full hoppy taste that is wonderfully balanced with a gentle bitterness and a hint of orange. The Cave A Bulles beer shop in Paris has a good selection of beers from brewers like these.

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Beer 21:
Timmermans - Lambic Doux

A light faro lambic that is very refreshing with a good depth of flavour. It has a flat, dry initial taste that is followed by a brief flash of peach and a lingering apple aftertaste. Baffingly brilliant in taste, the experience is enhanced by it being served from an earthenware jug in the A La Becasse bar in Brussels.

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Beer 22:
Tunnel - Shadowweaver

Many things are added to stouts, but this chocolate stout doesn't actually have any chocolate in it, it just refers to the hops used. It still has a sweet taste though. Bundles of flavour with liqourice elements to it and much lighter than many other "real ale" stouts without sacrificing any depth or complexity.

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Beer 23:
West Berkshire - Good Old Boy

The brewers refer to this as a "good ordinary bitter" which is selling themselves short in my opinion. Good Old Boy is Light hoppy ale that is deep brown in colour. Strongly flavoured for a 4% ale and a very good session beer that won't become overpowering but is not bland. It's bitter initial taste is quickly overtaken by a fruity, hoppy flavour that fades in the aftertaste.

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Beer 24:
Westvleteren - 12

Dark bitter trappist ale that is stunningly smooth. Almost closer to a liquor than an ale. A base that is a coffee tasting porter, with a spiced fruit top and a smooth middle. A beer so well balanced that it trips all the tastes receptors on the tongue equally and is absurdly packed with flavour. Deceptively drinkable and very fine indeed. The best beer in the world? There certainly aren't any finer.

Order Of Merit: Beers 1 to 8

Order Of Merit: Beers 9 to 16