The first thing that can be said is that I have set a new personal record with 834 different beers tasted. It’s the eighth consecutive year that this happens, so while I used to pretend having reached my maximum pace, I think the best to do for me now is to shut up …
The number of countries has been close to the one in 2011 with 35 (+1). But unlike 2011 which has been one of the very rare years without beers from new countries, I got that time lucky enough to score 3 “country points”: Dominica, Andorra and Monaco.
Considering the number of beers foreach country it’s no surprise to see (again) Switzerland on top with 243 (which means I could reach 2000 swiss beers next December). On position 2 we find the USA with 94, then Canada (82), Sweden (78) and Belgium (61).
My favourite country of 2012 – with a minimum of 5 beers rated – is the same as the year before: Netherlands ! Very surely a bias due to the fact that the only beers (or almost) I’m drinking from this country are from the excellent De Molen and Emelisse … The followers are Norway (really close), Denmark, Scotland, Brazil and the USA. If you are surprised about the strong performance of Norway, then think about Haandbryggeriet and Nøgne Ø. And, yes, I’m surprised about the presence of Brazil too … only because I forgot the nice beers I had from them at the Mondial de la Bière in Montreal: so remember breweries names like Bodebrown, Colorado or Bierland. At the bottom of this country ranking, you can find Austria and Argentina.
For the first time I tried to put in comparison my country ranking with their average alcohol content. The correlation is impressive ! Effectively, the first 2 countries are the same with the Netherlands (8.3%) and Norway (8.2%) taking one and two and the analogies go further as Brazil and Scotland take 4th place (8%). So considering that Heineken Switzerland just discontinued its stronger beer – which had an impressive 6% alcohol content ! – arguing that people want lighter brews, I must, once again, accept the fact I feel differently. But dont’ worry: I can assume that matter of fact :-))
In the category of the most represented breweries we can meet the same ones as last year, just in another order ! De Proef is now first with 24 beers (second in 2011), De Molen is second with 21 (third last year) and BrewDog is third with 18 (took first place in 2011 with 19). For those of you wondering about De Proef, don’t forget that most of Mikkeller beers are brewed there and that I put the beers under their location of production, so this explains that 😉
The top 5 breweries of 2012 – with a minimum of 3 beers – shows a nice mixture of countries with 3 Fonteinen (Belgium) on top, followed by Fanø (Denmark), Storm&Anchor (Switzerland), Dieu du Ciel! (Canada) and S:t Eriks (Sweden). I bet most of you don’t really know the last name on this list, do you ?
The most represented beer style is – like in 2011 – IPA. A very large win with 73 beers. Considering my favourite styles in 2012 (with a minimum of 5 beers) we can see Imperial Stout first followed by Imperial IPA, Black IPA, Barley Wine and Baltic Porter (the winner from last year). On the other side of the scale you will see Pale Lager at the bottom, then Dunkel, Fruit beers, English Pale Ale (surprising …) and Amber Ale.
As always, let’s now take a closer look at Switzlerland.
Last year I have discovered beers from 20 new breweries. If some of them – like Walliseller Bier, Condémines or Muschtibräu – have been pretty bad, most of them were above average. The best new brewery of 2012 is Brauwerk from Oberweningen in the canton of Zurich. Second place goes to villa urPur (St. Niklausen, Obwalden) and third to BrewBrothers (Heimberg, Bern). Good breweries for sure but none of those three were able to make it into the top 5 of the best Swiss breweries of 2012. The win in this category belongs without surprise to the amazing Storm&Anchor just ahead of Officina della Birra. Further we have BFM on third place, Sudwerk fourth and Strättligen Bier fifth. Isn’t this a nice list ?
It is pretty logical to meet brews from the aforementioned breweries while talking about the best Swiss beers of 2012. The win goes to the impressive Lisbeth from Officina della Birra while Storm&Anchor Nelson and BFM Abbaye Saint Bon-Chien 2011 take second respectively third place.
And finally, my overall highest rated beer from 2012 has been the exceptional Dieu du Ciel! Péché Bourbon with 19.2 points. The second place belongs to the BrewDog Tokyo Rising Sun Highland Edition while we can find plenty of wonderful beers on place three: A l’Abri de la Tempête Corne de Brume (Canada), Struise St. Amatus Oostvleteren 12 and 3 Fonteinen Armand’4 Oude Geuze Winter (both from Belgium), De Molen Festival Smoked Black IPA (Netherlands), Fanø Grassroots/Cigar City Neither and Amager Hoppin’ Frog Frog Hops to Amager (both from Denmark).
And now it’s no more time to look back but rather to get excited about what 2013 will bring !