Westport Extra Blonde Tripel – ABV 9%

Spicy and herbal with background notes of caramel and toffee and some alcohol warmth and sweet booziness – a Belgian Tripel at its best.

Look: Dark hazy amber with foamy white head and good lacing.

Aroma: Driven by candy sweetness with undertones of spice and herbal hops.

Taste: Bold and full-bodied, with medium carbonation. On the taste it’s bitter and drier with a juicier sweeter finish and some minimal booziness warmth.

Verdict: Everything a Belgian Tripel should be the folks in Westport, Ireland.

Marmalade on Rye DIPA – ABV 9%

Bittersweet orange combines beautifully with the spiciness of rye, plus Amarillo and Waimean hops, for a cracking dry-hopped and fruity breakfast beer.

Look: The beer pours a lovely hazy, coppery orange colour with a small white head.

Aroma: Orange zest, tropical fruit and cinnamon spice

Taste: Big flavours of bitter orange marmalade with the spiciness of rye and ginger against a caramel malt body. Totally delicious and a lot stronger than the minimal alcohol warmth portrays.

Food pairing: All this talk of marmalade and we can’t help thinking of hot buttered toast. Prefer a bit more cooking? The bitter orange and spice will also work well with bread and butter pudding.

In the Dark we Live Black IPA – ABV 7.2%

A pitch-black pour moves through a blackberry and dark chocolate aroma to a fig taste and a summery pine finish – this beer isn’t dark at all; it’s a rainbow.

Look: This beer lives up to its name: it pours pitch black in the glass with a thin beige head.dark chocolate

Aroma: Intense pine with some grapefruit and some berries those Mosaic, Columbus and Simcoe hops.

Taste: Full bodied and comple, the taste is malt, coffee and  before the fruit comes through with blackberry and fig plus a big resinous finish the hops.

Food Pairing: Black IPAs are versatile when it comes to pairing with food; try pairing this with a charcoal grilled steak and salty triple cooked chips.

Verdict: A quite brilliant example of a beer in this style. We want to live in the dark, too.

Ryesing Tides Rye IPA – ABV 7%

Citrus and tropical fruit, including grapefruit and tangerine American hops, zing over the top of spicy rye and a malty toffee base in this seasonal IPA.

Look: Pours gold and hazy with a thin white head that quickly vanishes.

Aroma:  Pineapple, grapefruit and peach with just a hint of spice the rye.

Taste: There is a velvety smooth mouthfeel and an explosion of pine, grapefruit and tangerine against a toffee caramel body – again with an accent of spice the rye.

Food pairing: Try pairing this beer with a scotch egg. The tropical hop profile works really well with the salty crispy outer, and the spice of the rye is a lovely contrast with the creaminess of the egg.

Big Fat 5 DIPA – ABV 8%

Het Uiltje’s award-winning Double IPA brewed for the 5th anniversary of Beer Temple in Amsterdam is a celebration of of pine, grapefruit and malts.

Look: The beer pours golden with a good level of carbonation, thin white head and lots of lacing.

Aroma: Pine, passionfruit and mango and on the palate with bitterness of pine needles against a malty base that really balances things out.

Verdict: Het Uiltje are gaining a reputation as one of the best craft breweries in the Netherlands; expect to hear lots more the boys in Haarlem over the next few years. They get a big fat high five us.

8 Mansions DIPA – ABV 9%

Tropical fruit salad on a bed of pine needles with a crisp and bitter bite – these mansions are fit for a king.

Look: 8 Mansions pours a cloudy golden amber with a small white head.

Aroma: It smells like a bag of fruit salad chews, and to taste there is tropical fruit with fresh pine needles against a nice smooth malt body.

Taste: Superbly fruity with a nice bitterness to boot, this beer ticks all the boxes for a DIPA and is a real pleasure to drink.

Food Pairing: Salty foods tend to pair best with DIPAs. Try this one with a good quality hot dog, topped with sauerkraut and mustard.

Verdict: Verdant were top of a lot of lists of best breweries in 2016, and if this collaboration with Howling Hops is anything to go by, they’ll be right up there in 2017 as well.

Jaapie Imperial Red Ale – ABV 9.4%

It’s just like a Belgian Red but with everything amplified – fruit, sweetness and alcohol and even banana creaminess. FC Feyenoord would be proud.

Look: Jaapie pours bright red in the glass, with a thin white head that is gone in the blink of an eye.

Aroma: Red berries, sweet malt and lots of fruity esters the yeast.

Taste: All the above plus plums, raspberries and banana creaminess.

Verdict: We are told Jaapie was named after Jaap Valkhoff – a singer Katendrecht on the Rotterdam peninsula where the brewery is based – who wrote the FC Feyenoord club song “Hand in Hand”. We don’t know what you’ll make of the song, but the beer is absolutely terrific.

Sandanista! IPA – ABV 7.4%

A crisp, dry IPA with loads of bitterness an “avalanche” of eight hops such as Apollo and Ahtanum, plus zesty lime, orange and juicy mango and pineapple.

Look: Sandinista pours dark golden and slightly hazy with a pillowy white head.

Aroma: Lime, mango and pineapple and bitter notes

Taste: Adding to the tones the aroma you also get pine needles and zesty orange peel.

Verdict: This is lovely, crisp, easy drinker with a huge hop burst said ‘avalanche’ – which includes Citra, Centennial, Crystal, Cascade, Bobek, Summit, Apollo and Ahtanum.

50K IPA – ABV 9.4%

Pine and tropical fruits riding a caramel wave – this is bold, bitter and seriously hoppy.

When we think of Brouwerij Kees we tend to think of darker beers; Imperial Stouts, Quads and complex barrel aged beers. In contrast, 50K is a seriously hopped Imperial IPA.

Look: Be careful when pouring this one if you don’t want to end up with a lot of sediment and hop residue the bottom of the bottle. It will taste great either way, but we suggest drinking this one sooner rather than later to get the best all those hops.

Aroma: Pine resin, grapefruit and caramel, with subtle notes of peach and apricot.

Taste: A high level of bitterness the hops with pine and tropical fruits, set against a sweet caramel body with some added spiciness rye in the grain bill.

Verdict: If you like big, bold bitter IPAs then this is going to really do it for you. This one tastes like a million – well, at least fifty thousand – dollars.

Dag & Dauw IPA with Bergamot – ABV 7.1%

Dag & Dauw, De Molen’s seasonal IPA with bergamot is subtly perfumed and beautifully citrusy with sweet lime, pine and refreshing grapefruit crispness.

Look: Dag & Dauw – translation ‘Day & Dew’ – pours a hazy brown in the glass

Aroma: Notes like a citrusy IPA with lime and a touch of perfume.

Taste: There’s pine, grapefruit and peach the hops, with a creamy malt body and more of that perfume the bergamot.

Verdict: It would be easy to overdo the perfume in a beer like this, but De Molen have got the balance just right. So if you thought bergamot was something you only found in hotel toiletries, its time to think again.