Thursday, 11 December 2014

Golden Pints 2014

Golden Piiiints!
It's that time of year again and my fourth stab at summing up what has been yet another great year for beer, meaning I could lazily copy and paste the intro I used for last year's post! These get harder and harder to write each year which is a testament to the continued growth of the wonderful beer scene in the UK and beyond.  Now, down to business!

Best UK Cask Beer: Last year I gave this to Siren Craft Brew for Liquid Mistress and I see no reason to change that this year. It's an automatic order for me when I see it on the bar. Honourable mentions to Marble's Pint and Oakham's Green Devil, a pint of which rendered me temporarily speechless at the Fat Cat in Norwich this year. Also, a local nod to Basingstoke's Longdog Brewery - their Porter is racking up award after award at local festivals and is a really tasty pint on cask.

Best UK Keg Beer: Magic Rock Cannonball. Relentless consistency and an aroma that makes me want to crawl into the glass - it's always a moment of joy when I scan pump clips on walking into a bar and see that little green badge. Drink it by the pint and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Honourable mentions to Brewdog Dead Pony and Rooster's Baby Faced Assassin.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Summer Wine Mauna Kea - a beer that wowed drinkers up and down the country before finally taking centre stage at IMBC, where it promptly ran out in a matter of hours. Cleverly brewed with a metric fuck-tonne (well, 100Kg) of tropical fruits, it was a real thirst quencher and the bottles were fantastic. Honourable mention to Fourpure IPA (can) which is a great fridge-filler and remains a steal at £10/6 at the brewery if you can get there.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Pretty tough to choose from the many I've had this year - a return to the west coast providing plenty of sampling opportunities. Green Flash's Green Bullet was a delight at the brewery tap but I'm going to go for Alpine Nelson. It's a beer that just ticks all my boxes and a pint is never enough. 

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: A quirky choice perhaps but Elysian's Punkuccino proved that pumpkin beers can be world class too. Breakside IPA also provided a wow moment this year.

Best Collaboration Brew: This was my easiest pick and it goes to Green Flash / Cigar City for their Candela Rye Barleywine. Amidst an almost overwhelming sea of world class beer at Copenhagen Beer Celebration, this stood out as my beer of the festival. I went back for another, then another, then I told Chuck Silva I loved him and he filled my thimble sized glass right to the top. Then the keg kicked, but no matter because by then I was invincible... and quite drunk.

Best Overall Beer: Buxton Far Skyline. The Berliner style sours remained popular this year and while most breweries took the traditional route of adding various fruits, Siren (Calypso) and Buxton both went with dry hopping to add a little something different. Far Skyline is an absolute delight both on the nose and with its crisp, dry finish. Honourable mention to Burning Sky Monolith and Weird Beard Something Something Darkside.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or LabelWeird Beard continue to nail this time after time. Their branding is so clever that it can look fresh on every new beer. The labels for their new Smoke, Fire and Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja releases are perhaps the best yet.

Best UK Brewery: Buxton. I thought long and hard about this but they're a brewery who, under the guidance of head brewer Colin Stronge, have managed to retain high quality in their core range through a large expansion project this year while turning out some exceptional special releases. I could equally have given this to Siren Craft Brew for pretty much the same reasons. I'm expecting even bigger things from these two in 2015. I'd also like to mention Thornbridge for their consistency and some great specials this year too. I never hesitate to order their beers - you know you'll be getting quality down to the last drop.

Best Overseas Brewery: I'm going with Boneyard here. They were a real standout for me at CBC and are also a standout in their Bend, OR home which is positively awash with fantastic breweries. Honourable mentions to Alpine and Stone.

Best New Brewery Opening 2014: Runaway Brewery, Manchester. Talk about hitting the ground running. Definitely one to watch in 2015. I'm also ridiculously excited about Cloudwater opening soon. Manchester is where it's all going to be at next year. I'd also like to mention Northern Monk here. Are they new? I'm not sure where cuckoo brewing fits in to this category as that would mean they aren't new. Their physical brewery is certainly new, so they're staying in!

Pub/Bar of the YearBrewDog Shepherds Bush. I've sent a few drunken tweets pouring praise on the staff and the manager, Dean Pugh, but they thoroughly deserve it. It's my favourite place to drink in London. Honourable mention to Red Willow Macclesfield

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014Beavertown's Tap Room is pretty sweet, as is Mother Kelly's.

Beer Festival of the Year: The Independent Manchester Beer Convention. Again. It's the benchmark for me. Honourable mention to Birmingham Beer Bash which returned bigger and better this year. On a local level, Woking was fun again this year.

Supermarket of the YearWaitrose - still doing a great job of supporting local breweries while listing some top brews on a national level, not to mention the great home brew competition they ran with Thornbridge this year.

Independent Retailer of the YearThe Bottle Shop, Bermondsey

Online Retailer of the Year: According to my bank statements it was (for the second year running) BrewDog but I must also give a mention to Beermerchants with whom I've spent a fair whack too - mostly on Cantillon bottles!

Best Beer Book or MagazineBoak and Bailey's Brew Britannia book is a fantastic read about the resurgence of British beer and I was delighted to see them scoop the BGBW award - richly deserved. Honourable mention to Mark Dredge - his second book skillfully explores the subject of Beer and Food in his own fast-paced enthusiastic style.

Best Beer Blog or Website: I've really enjoyed reading Justin Mason's Get Beer, Drink Beer blog this again year but I'm going to give the nod to Boak and Bailey http://boakandbailey.com/. Also, a big shout out to the Port 66 site which is becoming a go-to resource for home brewers.

Best Beer AppTwitter!

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: David Broadford Brewer Bishop for his brilliant #TwattyBeerDoodles.

Best Brewery Website/Social mediaBrewdog again. Adding Rich Taylor to the team means they'll probably win it next year too.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Siren Haunted Dream paired with Emma Victory's soon to be world famous chocolate brownies.

1 comment:

  1. Controversially, I am still yet to enjoy a Liquid Mistress on cask. Tried it again last month, possibly it wasn't that fresh. I'll keep trying though as this was the year I became an overnight fan of Siren. Actually it was in the space of an hour while trying Ratchet, Americano and Shattered Dream.

    Re. WB pumpclips/labels: the Rye Smile one is fantastic I think. Also have a soft spot for Out of Office.

    That Punkaccino was a fantastic surprise beer. (thanks)

    Mauna Kea and Monolith are right up there for me this year. I'd better do my own Golden Pints I guess. :)

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