The trouble with working with beer is that around Christmas lots of people like to drink it. Leaving little time to write about it. So, without further ado, here’s my somewhat belated Golden Pints.
Best UK Cask Beer
There’s something thoroughly pleasing about drinking a beer 6 feet from the fermenter it was brewed in. Especially when it’s a spot on porter such as Korvak’s Saga from Fownes Brewing. It’s absolutely delicious, a smooth, rounded and classic porter. I’m eagerly awaiting getting some bottles -now they’re available- when I’m back in the Black Country in the new year.
Best UK Keg Beer
Oakham’s Green Devil IPA gets this with little thought. It’s sharp, refreshing and full of floral and citrus flavours. It’s followed closely by Magic Rock Cannonball and an honorable mention goes to the stunning Earl Phantom from Beavertown which loses points for not being in my mouth right now.
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Gamma Ray. Ung. Not sure I need to say anymore than that?
Best Overseas Draught
Lincoln is somewhat in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere is also known as Lincolnshire (Sorry, Matt). This means my access to overseas draft is rather dismay. A bit of Lagunitas in the Euston Tap, some Flying Dog at work and some great beers at the Great British Beer Festival in the summer. Of course there’s some great European brews around (and I drink more schooners of strawberry Timmermans than is probably normal) but nothing that catches me out so there’s no winner here. But I will cast an honorable mention to the Single Hop Sour I tried on cask from Fate Brewing Company at GBBF.
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Sierra Nevada Torpedo gets my vote after I grabbed a can of it from The Epicurean in Manchester. It really blew me away when I drank it paired with Harry Potter Cluedo. I was shocked and impressed at how fresh and stunning it was after the obvious trek from the brewery. This is why I’m jumping on the canned-wagon, it allows for such a fresh taste. An honorable mention to 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze for seducing me with it’s guezy charms and converting me utterly to a previously unknown style (thanks, Andrew!). Also a wink to the 750ml bottle of Flying Dog’s St. EADman that myself and Heidi shared in the beer garden at work. Smoke, caramel and looks of awe. And of course, The Duchesse de Bourgogne for being everything I expected and more.
Best collaboration brew
Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite collaboration brew was IndyMan and Summer Wine’s Twiggy IPA. I’ll just quote my overly superfluous description from my Indy Man post. I could write love songs about this beer.
It had a great malt backbone, it was rich, spice-ish and summoned something of a desire to colonise. I imagine myself as a colonial privateer swigging it whilst looking out on the Indian ocean on a cool morning, my coattails flapping in the breeze as the ship’s cat nuzzles my leg. Several empty barrels of Twiggy take up space on the deck, the men are playing some kind of dice game, using them as a table. “Get back to work!” I shout, “and someone get me another bottle of Twiggy!”
Rowan sipped it and made a face. So, not for everyone.
Best Overall Beer
I’ve been thinking back and forth over the weird and wonderful brews I’ve had this year but I’ve simply settled on the beer I’ve gone back to again and again this year. Gamma Ray would have been a constant fixture in my fridge if I could get hold of more than a can or so every other month. Cannonball also woos me but again, I like to actually drink my favourite beers! This award is going to Citra Devil IPA. Yes, you read that right. Half Oakham Citra and half Green Devil IPA, both beers I’ve gone back to constantly throughout the year and the blend is something I really love. Internet points to Tania for this beauty.
Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
Oakham Ales! I really love Oakham’s branding. It’s simple and consistent, all of the artwork is clever, funny and I like the cartoon-y style. And, when you’ve got an entire range of beers named after the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy then you’ve got my heart. Honorable mention to the sexy sexy Beavertown. I adore their strange post apocalyptic mildly neo punk artwork (don’t try and part me from my Gamma Ray tee) and also someone give me one of the banners from the Turkish Baths at IMBC.
Best UK Brewery
My favourite dwarfen brewery in Gornal gets this. I love Fownes Brewing Co. They’ve got a consistent and impressive line up of brews from the Korvak porters to Gunhild (honey ale) and Goat Rider (pumpkin ale) to Frost Hammer and Troll Hunter, two delicious pales. Only around for two years I’m looking forward to what they’ll be up to in the new year.
Pub/Bar of the Year
Back in January I was told about this awesome new little pub in the west end of Lincoln. Yes, I lived on the opposite side of town but I thought i’d check it out. Eventually we were going a few times a week and eventually I was offered a job. I know I work at the West End Tap in Lincoln but I genuinely adore this pub. It’s a beautiful mix between a craftish bar and a chummy local.
Best beer and food pairing
This one goes to Rodenbach Grand Cru and a massive hunk of stilton. I heard about this one on The Beer O’Clock Show and when I spotted Rodenbach in the Epicurean I had to give it a go. The creaminess of the stilton cuts through the bite of the Rodenbach and mingles with the fruity flavours. Bloody lovely.
Best Beer Festival
This year I had the chance to head outside of my own city and go to some beer festivals across the country. GBBF was a great experience, I got to meet so many of you blogging and twittering lovelies and drink some fantastic beer however this award obviously is going to go to the Independent Manchester Beer Convention. I hit up Manchester midway through a week working at the Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival in Nottingham (also awesome, I got to work in a castle!) and loved every minute. The venue was superb and the beer was sublime, I really can’t wait until next year.
Independent Retailer of the Year
I’ve had the chance to check out a few beer shops this year on my travels but the one that sticks out is Cotteridge Wines near Birmingham. Not only does it have a fantastic selection (and Gamma Ray for £1.79, oh my!) but the tap room is beautifully speakeasyesque.
Best Beer Book or Magazine
Without a doubt Brew Britannia from the brilliant minds of Boak and Bailey. It read like an essay of love and fascination of Britain’s beery history. Go and buy it. Now.
Best Beer Blog or Website
This also goes to Boak and Bailey for their wonderful blog. It’s brilliantly informative and their round ups have brought so many fantastic blogs and writers to my attention. It’s also nice to see great beer stuff out there from people not inside the M25.
Honorable mention to Matt Curtis’ Total Ales for I’m forever impressed that a man so filled with drunkenness and anger can string together such brilliantly written sentences and impassioned articles.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer