Once again, British microbrewery Camden Town Brewery has distilled the flavor of the year gone by into an annual beer. “It’s the third year we’ve done this and the second year it’s been a barrel-aged beer,” brand manager Zoe Wulfsohn-Dunkley tells CH. “The beer tells a story, as it’s been aged for quite a large proportion of the year—we brewed it really early on.” The result is a slightly sweet, strong beer (7.6% ABV) that’s full of flavor, and definitely deserves to be sipped on special occasions. The 2015 edition was aged in rum, cognac, whisky and tequila barrels, giving it a slightly smoky barrel character as well as an enjoyable, boozy aftertaste. Camden Town describes it as tasting “like a pecan pie with a shot of whisky,” and that’s a pretty spot-on description.
One of the most aesthetically interesting breweries in the country, Camden is known for its work with collaborators, including Beach Gallery and Jay Cover of the Nous Vous collective. For the 2015 bottle, the company teamed up with long-time collaborator Thomas Slater. “Tom does a huge amount of our illustrations for one-off parties and stuff, but we had never actually got him to do a bottle before. It was a really fun project,” says Wulfsohn-Dunkley. Slater tuns the dark brown glass into a night sky with his festive print of planets and shooting stars that steers clear of holiday clichés.
The brewery is now busy planning its next releases. “As soon as we stop brewing one annual beer, we think about the next one and this year’s been the best yet, so there’s no reason not to keep doing it,” Wulfsohn-Dunkley adds. Coming up next are Camden Town Brewery’s Flue Faker (a smoked lager) in January, as well as the Strawberry Hells Forever for summer. And if you want to try the annual beer, get one quick, as it was only made in the low thousands. Once bought, it can be kept for a few months—not a usual beer feature—but a plus for the growing number of people who prefer to toast a special occasion in beer rather than wine.
The 2015 Annual Beer costs £15 for 900ml and is available at Clapton Craft, the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, Bottle Apostle, and obviously at CTB’s new bar Camden’s Daughter.
Images by Cajsa Carlson