It is about this time of year, when I wish to reflect on some beery highlights, a halfway point in the calendar where I reveal some of my favourite quality quaffs; beers deemed to have the wow factor; beers that have surpassed my expectations.

It may to some extent, reveal the way our drinking habits and expectations have been changing in recent years. I have certainly found myself gravitating towards more hoppier and fruity beers of late.

That said, I still enjoy a plethora of beer styles and flavours, from a stout to a saison; and from an India pale ale to a porter. And I hope that some of my recent, favourite alcoholic beverages, highlighted below, will prove that.

Let’s commence with a mild style beer I enjoyed at the Drummers Arms in Blackburn. Three B’s, Stokers Slake, was a sheer delight. It’s a mystery how brewer Bob Bell packs so much flavour into this 3.6% brewing masterpiece. Roasted malt, milk chocolate and some dark, stone fruits were in charge. A hint of peppery spice was lurking in the background; moderate carbonation and dry finish. Wow!

Another memorable highlight was Charrington IPA. This recently recreated and iconic London beer was enjoyed at the excellent New Brew-m micro-bar, in Burnley town centre. A punchy IPA at 4.5%, it offered an earthy and resinous aroma. The fruity bitterness and the malty, caramel sweet flavours were a perfect alliance. A tangy bittersweet finish made this a standout slurp.

Next up was one from Dark Star (Horsham). Their golden ale, Hophead (3.8%), was superb. A clean, refreshing, complex beer. Blimey, I detected a citrusy aroma, followed by a melody of flavours on the palate. Caramel malt; grapefruit; elderflower; mango; and some grassy notes. In exceptional condition at the Hop Micro Pub, Rawtenstall. It was awesome.

Fourth on my luscious list came courtesy of the Pendle Beer Festival and a beer from the Ramsbottom brewery, Rammy Craft. A robust, malted rye style beer, namely, Garage Beer FU2 (6.2%). Caramel malt, peppery spice and a fruity bitterness, leading to a subtle sour-like rye characteristic in the finish.

My final highlight will no doubt raise a few eyebrows from the more traditional beer drinking brethren. It was a keg beer, immensely enjoyed o’er t’border, at the new Vocation Brewery, ‘Vocation & Co.’, in Hebden Bridge.

Their Life & Death, American style IPA (6.5%), was amazing. Mountains of malt and heaps of hops are used to produce this punchy, zestful, hazy, golden beer. Big citrus aroma, leads to powerful flavours of grapefruit, mango and pineapple. Pleasant citrusy and dry aftertaste; moreish in the extreme. Superlative slurp.

So, there you have it. I’m sure the remainder of 2017 will prove just as enjoyable. Some of the exciting and flavoursome beers being presently brewed, will surely see to that.