For the third consecutive year I have been able to taste an average of two beers a day, even setting a personal best mark of new beers with 777 (the good twin of 666, probably).

After “vegetating” for years at about one new beer a day, I have now found my cruising speed. The fact I do have permanently between 100 and 200 new beers awaiting in my cellar proves I cannot (and don’t want) to rate faster. Those of you who think that an average of 2 new beers a day is a lot must be informed that the most prolific raters on are producing numbers of a totally other level : notorious raters like fonefan, yespr or Ungstrup are tasting more than 3’000 beers each year and can even reach up to 6’000 ! One has to think twice about those numbers to realize what they represent: an average of 8 to 16 beers a day and this weeks after weeks, months after months ! Definitely not a performance I would be able to realize, not even during a single week.

So let’s come back to earth and respond to a recurrent question I got from people about my beer hobby: where on hell do you get all your beers from ? I have already addressed this 2 years ago on my homepage and I will do it again here. So there it is:

As you can see, the percentage of new beers obtained through trades is pretty high and has even increased during the last two years (was 32% in 2009). The kings in this category are the Swiss beertickers Philipp Sigg and Thomas Schneider with 122 beers. Many thanks to both ! One of the big differences with 2009 is that I am nowadays barely ordering beers on online shops (two years ago this category was accounting for one-fifth of my beers). The reason for it has one name: Erzbierschof ! This incredible and wonderful beer shop/bar has been my main resource in 2011 with a total of 154 different beers. Another difference is also the importance of beer festivals. As I said it in my FAQs, I’m not a festival guy. Nevertheless I have attended the last two events of the Mondial de la Bière in Strasbourg and, added to the beers from the traditional Solothurner Biertage, it constitutes 10% of my total.

bottles brought back from the Mondial de la Bière in Strasbourg

One major fact of 2011 is that it has been the first year where I have not been able to find a beer from a new country. I was close to it in 2010 already but was eventually able to get a beer from Senegal. Since then: nada. So don’t hesitate to send me some beers from Aruba, Georgia, Mozambique or whatever you have and I don’t 🙂

Talking about countries, it is no surprise that the one I had the most beers from has been Switzerland. It is not only my home but also – those who read my blog know it already – the country with the highest density of breweries per capita. Switzerland had also a clear lead with 227 beers, followed by Germany (131) and the USA (87).

Netherlands has been my favourite country of 2011, topping a list of 34 names and followed closely by Canada and Denmark. Far away, on the bottom, Hungary can be met.

The most represented brewery has been Brewdog with a solid number of 19 different beers, De Proef (13), De Molen (12) and the Swedes from Eskilstuna (12) come just after.

The days when the beer world was mainly an ocean of lagers is gone. This is confirmed by the most represented style of all my 777 beers from last year: IPA with 42 representatives. Don’t you think this to be a good news ? Well, I, for myself, definitely do. While talking about beer styles, my favourites in 2011 (considering only those with a minimum of 5 beers tasted) have been Baltic Porter, Sour Ale and American Strong Ale. On the other side, Pale Lager, Dunkel and Dunkelweizen failed – as usual – to please me.

As always, I would like to take a closer look at the beers and breweries from Switzerland. During the last 12 months, I have been able to drink beers from 28 new breweries. If some of them, like Tardiv, Mondlinger Bräu or Vieux Chemin, have been deeply disappointing, most of the others have shown above average qualities. My best new Swiss brewery from 2011 is – without surprise – Sudwerk. You can read more about them in this article from August. Second place goes to Rietgassbräu, a microbrewery from Rheineck in the canton of St-Gallen. I had unfortunately only one beer from them, a superb Schwarzbier. Engadiner Bier from Pontresina takes place three thanks to 4 interesting and clearly mastered beers. The race for the best Swiss beers of 2011 led to a triumph of the Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes: the Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien 2010, a particularly marvelous vintage (see also Beer of the Month (March)), got first place, while its cousin, the Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru, matured in San Giovese Barrel, placed second. A deserved third place goes to the Mamba, an IPA from the highly skilled Claude Degen, brewer of Degenbier.

My highest rated beer from 2011 has been the wonderful Stella 1 from the Danes of Mikkeller (brewed in Belgium at De Proef). You can read more details about this beer in my article “Bière du mois (septembre)”. I have already talked about the beer which takes the second place, as it is the legendary Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, 2010 vintage. Placed on second rank as well, the best representative of all 87 beers from the USA I got last year: the Angel’s Share Bourbon Barrel from the Californians of the Lost Abbey. This beer, a solid Barley Wine showing 12.5% alcohol,  is the same base beer as The Angel’s Share but is aged in Whiskey barrels instead of Brandy barrels.

Isn’t this a nice podium ?

cheers and happy New Year to you all !

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