WELL, 2018 has come to a close; and as in previous years it has brought many enjoyable beery highlights.

Tastes in beer have continued to become more diverse - or it appeared so, judging by the plethora of beer styles available, witnessed over the last 12 months.

So, without further ado, permit me to reveal just some of my favourite beers in last calendar year. Outstanding beverages, that in my opinion, ticked all the boxes for a stellar drinking experience.

Brewsmith, Brown Ale (4.2%): This innovative Ramsbottom brewery consistently rolls out excellent beers. A beer immensely enjoyed at the Burnley Cricket Club beer festival. Ruby-coloured ale with a distinct roasted malt and a modest nutty, piney aroma. Toffee, nutty, and dark berry fruit notes. Caramel malt and more nutty flavours in the bittersweet and dry finish.

Timothy Taylors, Landlord (4.3%): This iconic pale ale was in exceptional condition at the Aspinall Arms, Mitton. It’s one of my favourite beers. Amber in colour with a complex citrus and floral aroma. It has a perfect balance of biscuit malt and tangy fruit hopped flavours. A long fruity bitterness and subtle spicy warmth in the dry finish. Sublime drinking experience.

Roosters Baby Faced Assassin (6.1%): A quite stunning and robust IPA in a can, from the Knaresborough brewery. Hazy amber in appearance. Ballsy tropical fruit aroma leads to juicy mango, peach, orange and pink grapefruit flavours. Fruity sweetness detected in the tangy and long dry finish. Refreshing and dangerously sessionable!

Reedley Hallows, Rubis Chocolate Tempranillo Stout (4.5%): A delicious, well-balanced offering, sampled at their brewery in Burnley. Near-black in presentation with a tight, beige, creamy head. Dark chocolate, black cherries and expresso coffee aroma and flavours. Some subtle peppery spice identified too. Winey fruit, roasted grains and a spicy warmth in the mellow and lingering, dry finish. A moreish stout with a capital “M”.

Salt Beer Factory, Alpaca DDH IPA (6.6%): Enjoyed at the superb Salt Brewery tap in Shipley. This double dry hopped IPA had the wow factor. Amazing tropical fruit aroma. It was bursting with mango, pineapple and grapefruit flavours from the heaps of hops used in the brewing process. More pineapple and grapefruit in the dry, tangy finish. Another dangerously sessionable beer!

Northern Whisper, Chinwag (5.6%): Another exceptional IPA dispensed on keg at their impressive Tap Room in Rawtenstall town centre. Hazy golden appearance with a strong citrus aroma. Tropical fruit flavours of lemon, grapefruit and mango were a perfect marriage. Lingering dry finish is packed with mouth-tingling, tangy hops. Brewing excellence from the brewhouse of Carmelo Pillitteri.

Cheshire Brewhouse, Conga Tun (6.3%): A delicious bottle of barrel aged Scotch Ale from master brewer, Shane Swindells. Chestnut brown in presentation. Dried fruit and a subtle smokey aroma. More dried fruits, in addition to caramel, dark chocolate, a hint of spice and warming alcohol. A tasty dried fruit and oaky finish. A superlative slurp.

Boon, Geuze Mariage Parfait (7%): This exceptional Belgian classic beer (a blend of two Lambic beers) was immensely enjoyed at the Barlick Tap, Barnoldswick. Deep golden in appearance. Tart green apple and yeasty aroma. More tart green apples, plus lemon zest, earthy and a hint of coriander flavours. Moderate lemony tartness, in the lingering dry finish. Refreshing in the extreme.

So, just a selection of many outstanding beery highlights of 2018.

I could have mentioned a shed load of delightful drops sampled in the previous calendar year. I certainly look forward to enjoying more of the same in 2019.