AS we reach the halfway point of the calendar year, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on some beery highlights. It’s my first six month report where I reveal some of my favourite beverages; beers considered in my opinion, to have surpassed my expectations; beers deemed to have had the wow factor.

The quality of beer across the region and beyond has never been better, with local breweries making a range of flavoursome, quality beers, that are far superior to the basic mass-produced offerings we regularly witness in our pubs, bars and clubs.

So below, in no particular order of preference, are the top ten tipples that tantalised my taste buds, from some of the locality’s finest breweries.

Reedley Hallows, Old Laund Bitter (3.8%)

An outstanding traditional session bitter. A perfect marriage of biscuit malt and fruity hop flavours. Some subtle peppery spice in the refreshing and delightful malty and bitter hopped finish. In exceptional condition at the Craven Heifer, Harle Syke, Burnley.

Moorhouse’s Rum and Raisin Stout (9%)

A most enjoyable and rather boozy stout. Rich, smooth and fruity sweet. The sweet raisin flavours were most prominent and blended well the bready and spiced rum notes. This complex flavoured ale was delicious. A limited edition stout immensely enjoyed at The Wharf, Castlefield, Manchester.

Heritage Brewing, Masterpiece IPA (5.6%)

A beer brewed to replicate the iconic Worthington Shield IPA. Amber in presentation, with a caramel and tropical fruit aroma. Floral , dark fruits and tangy orange notes blended beautifully. A deliciously tangy and dry finish. Wow! Most enjoyed at Pendle Beer Festival, Colne.

Swannay Brewery, Scapa Special (4.2%)

A glorious premium bitter by one of my favourite brewers. Copper in presentation.Biscuit malt and bready aroma and flavour. Some subtle tangy orange notes too. Long, dry, bitter finish. Ticked all the boxes. Superb. In first-class condition at the New Brew-m, Burnley.

Rivington, Average Guy, Exceptional Hair (5.0%)

An exceptional American style Pale Ale from another of my favourite breweries. Pours a hazy light amber colour. Aroma of cereal malt and tropical fruit. More of the same in the flavour with some floral notes being identified. Dry, bitter finish, with some fruity notes lingering. Enjoyed at Buffer Stops, Rawtenstall.

Exmoor Gold (4.5%)

This is one sensational golden bitter. Caramel malt aroma . Juicy citrus and malty flavours marry sublimely. Hint of vanilla is lurking too. Lush bitter-sweet and dry hopped finish. Arguably in my top three so far this year. It was a brewing masterpiece. Tremendously appreciated at the Bridge Bier Huis, Burnley.

Bank Top, Dark Mild (4%)

Another brewing masterpiece. A delightful dark and complex beer from the Bolton brewer. Rich and velvety smooth. It boasts flavours of dark chocolate, liquorice, dark berries and caramel malt. Complexity at its finest. It went down a treat at the Old England Forever, Accrington.

Anarchy Brewery, Cell Phone Zombies (5.9%)

A delicious American West Coast-style IPA from the excellent Newcastle brewer. Brimming with luscious tropical fruit aromas, that led to more juicy tropical fruit and piney flavours. More fruit continued in the semi-dry finish. A dangerously sessionable beer quaffed at The Ale House, Clitheroe.

Wishbone Brewery, Patchwork (4.2%)

I just love all the Wishbone beers. This dry hopped pale ale was perfection. Light golden appearance. Zesty grapefruit aroma. Mango, grapefruit and some subtle floral notes. It was so refreshing and crisp. Dry, zesty finish. In superb condition at the Talbot Arms, Settle.

Timothy Taylors, Landlord (4.3%)

I have saved the best till last! A classic and a premium pale ale. Pale malt and fruity hops at their finest. One of the best and most delicious beers on the planet. There is nothing much more to say about this iconic ale. In perfect condition at the Aspinall Arms, near Whalley.

So, there you have it. A tenfold of exceptional beers to behold in the first half of the calendar year. I’m sure the next six months will be just as enjoyable. Cheers...