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What puts a beer on The List?

The List. We all have one, right? A Top 3, 5, 10. A list of beers we consider to be, well, life changing. And yet a heated debate in the pub the other night made me realise that the criteria people use to compile their lists varies wildly.

I threw out a question on Twitter and the result genuinely surprised – nay – alarmed me:

87% said yes. EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT.

For me, a limited edition beer could never make the list. And yes, I realise the irony of that statement given that two of my Beers of the Year(s) were limited edition; but let me explain:

In 2015 I discovered Two Tribes nitro coffee stout. It was, without question, absolutely astounding. I returned to the bar several times that evening for third after third of that beer, which is virtually unheard of for me in a festival setting. I sipped that beautiful stout alongside my then boyfriend (now hubbo mchubface) and his father, under the starlight, in the grounds of Le Gothique in Wandsworth Common. You might be able to see where I’m going with this – I can describe who I was with, where I was drinking and even where I was going next (the George and Dragon in Acton where we watched a cracking game of rugby), but there’s one thing I can’t describe – that beer. I mean, I know it was a nitro coffee stout, I know how I felt when I took my first sip of that beer, I know how I desperately tried to track it down afterwards, and I do trust that it really was as astounding as I remember, but as time passes I remember the detail less and less, and that’s why it can never be on The List.

So what does make the cut? For me, it’s beers I come back to time and time again. Beers I can trust to deliver quality, taste and drinkability every time. Fuller’s ESB, Five Points Railway Porter, Beavertown’s Gamma Ray, Rodenbach Caractère Rouge, a fresh pint of Landlord! Don’t get me wrong, I still squeal with delight when I see a 15 page beer menu, or I show up to a festival packed with beers and breweries I’ve never heard of, but I think it’s an important part of the journey to discover your core range. And if it’s core, it can’t be limited.

What makes your list? And, if you’re part of the 87%, please do tell me why I’m wrong and why limited editions can and should be included (they shouldn’t).

4 thoughts on “What puts a beer on The List?”

  1. I’ll throw my hands up and say I’m one of the 87%! I think an All Time Favourite beer (as per the poll) is different to my ‘list’ beer, when it comes to a list then I’m in agreement with you, it’s all about the go-to beers!

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  2. I was also one of the 87%. For me, as Rach said, my top 10 all-time and my “go-to” list would not be the same. BrewDog Libertine was the all-time #1 (and will be for some time) but that was as much to do with context the first time as with the beer itself. I’ve had it on a number of occasions since then and, though epic, it wasn’t 11/10 on those occasions
    Go-to list (currently): Lupuloid or Gamma Ray / Magic Rock Common Grounds / BrewDog 5AM / Black Iris Divine Elements.

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  3. You start by saying “the List” is made of beer’s that are “life changing”. But then ding points against limited beers because they aren’t part of a dependable core range. Crafty indeed.
    I’m more interested in the idea of great beer and experience than a list.

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    1. I stand by life changing. The point I’m making is that however incredible a beer is, limited edition or not, your judgement of that beer can change over time. The difference is that, most of the time, you can’t go back to a limited edition to test that judgement.

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