I FEEL it is most appropriate to kick off 2017 with some beery highlights from the previous year. It's a task that becomes more difficult year on year. Discerning ale quaffers have never had it so good with a plethora of styles and tastes out there to tingle the taste buds.

So, what have been some of my memorable beer tasting moments of the last 12 months? Beers that have had the wow factor, a beverage that declared full blown enjoyment and appreciation. Well, permit me to list below, in no particular order, my 2016 beer gongs.

Fighting Cocks (now Bosco Brewing Co) - Spaghetti Stout (5.9%). Tasted at the Pendle Beer Festival in February. Barrel aged excellence from innovative brewer, Carmelo Pillitterri. Smooth and rich, the dark stone fruits, roasted malt and dark chocolate flavours were a perfect balance. First to sell out at the festival - enough said!

Vocation Brewery, Heart and Soul - A fabulous beer from the Hebden Bridge brewer. In exceptional condition at the superb Old Gate pub, Hebden Bridge. A refreshingly crisp and tropical fruit laden delight.Pink grapefruit, mango and passion fruit in charge. A stunning beer at 4.4%.

Hyde's, Black Horse - A traditional dark ale at its finest. Chestnut red in presentation. Enjoyed immensely at the Commercial Inn, Harle Syke, Burnley. The solid malty backbone and bitter hopped presence was a perfect marriage. A hint of spice too and moreish in the extreme. Only popped in for one. Ended up having three!

Big Clock Brewery, Brit Hop (4.5%) - Okay, a little bias here. This was a beer I helped create for the Accrington brewer. It's been a resounding success and is now a core beer. A premium strength Pale Ale, reddish brown in colour, it's a smooth, refreshing, malty brew. Light, bitter hopped notes balance well with the malty presence. There are hints of blackcurrant and spice too.

Northern Monk (Leeds), Imperial Whisky Smoked Honey Porter - It may surprise a few that a canned beer is highlighted. However, I make no apologies for this stonking slurp at 10% ABV. A honey sweet and whisky aroma. Jet black with a creamy beige head. A melody of flavours hit the palate. Smokey whisky, honey, rich caramel and a hint of burnt treacle balance beautifully. Inherent booziness at its finest.

Roosters High Tea IPA (6.2%) - Definitely a wow factor beer. Enjoyed recently at Holmes Mill Beer Hall. Citrussy and floral aroma. Pithy orange and lemony notes balanced well with the piney, green tea flavours. Zesty, deep flavoured and refreshing. Dry bitter finish. A complex brewing masterpiece from the Knaresborough brewer.

Marble Lagonda IPA (5%) - A truly superb beer from the maverick brewing team in Manchester. A multi-flavour packed delight. Grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit and piney notes are a perfect marriage. And wait, more grapefruit and piney flavour in the tasty, long, dry, bitter finish. Wow! In magnificent condition at the equally magnificent, Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton.

Fernandes, Black Voodoo Porter - A moreish beer in the extreme. It was all the rage at the Fighting Cocks, Cliviger, beer festival during the summer. It quickly sold out. Roasted malt and fruity aroma, leading to an orangey, milky chocolate and vanilla flavoured taste. It was a belter. Terry's Chocolate Orange in a glass!

Mad Dog, Twisted Cyclops IPA. This Cwmbran brewer produce awesome beers. This punchy, juicy and citrus fruit laden ale, was arguably one of the best in 2016. One of many exceptional beers sampled at the New Brew-m in Burnley town centre. It ticked all the boxes. Thirst quenching and full flavoured excellence. A memorable highlight indeed.

So, there you have it, quite simply, 2017 has a lot to live up to. As the last 12 months presented many, many excellent brews, alas, far too many to mention here.