Thursday 1 January 2015

Golden Pints 2014

If only to move that repulsive photo from the top of the blog, I thought I'd post my Golden Pints 2014. As a general caveat, please be aware that (a) I don't get out much, and so drink the vast majority of beer bottled, at home, and (b) I make my living buying and selling much of the beer I'm about to praise.

Best UK Cask Beer: the cask beer that I've enjoyed most consistently this year has been served in Tapped Leeds. They serve their cask beer under air pressure (I think), and slightly cooler than most places. If I had to pick one beer, the pint of Wild Beer Co Bibble I drank at Tapped during the Wild Beer Meet The Brewer was memorable, even if I did have a cold when I drank it.

Best UK Keg Beer: Magic Rock Cannonball gets my money every time

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: the day-old Magic Rock Cannonball that we had at the first BeerRitz Meet The Brewer was certainly notable. This year I've bought more beer for personal consumption from The Kernel, with their Mosaic IPA being a particular high point. In fact, at one point I found myself scouring the internet to see if I could buy more when it ran out, something I rarely do these days. The Siren Craft Brew "Discount" (cedar-aged single hop IPA) series were all pretty outrageous, with Middle Finger Discount (Mosaic hops again - there's a theme developing here) being my favourite of the three.

Best Overseas Draught: it seems as though my palate has finally matured as I really enjoyed drinking draught Cantillon at Borefts Beer Festival this year.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: having failed to track down a can of Heady Topper in Amsterdam this year, and not having had access to a lot of really fresh American imports that seem to appear on Twitter regularly, I'd have to go for Tilquin Oude Geuze

Best Collaboration Brew: pretty much all of the Siren Craft Brew collabs have been amazing, with Middle Finger Discount being the best for me. Their head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew also deserves a medal for the Rainbow Project, which this year looks set to be absolutely stunning. And Buxton Brewery are also doing some amazing things too.

Best Overall Beer: Magic Rock Cannonball. World-class IPA, brewed locally, served fresh.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label: Siren/Stillwater When The Light Gose Out is about the coolest bottle of beer I think I've ever seen.

Best UK Brewery: I love The Kernel for their consistency and purity of purpose, Magic Rock for their sheer world-beating class, and Siren for their restless innovation.

Best Overseas Brewery: I haven't drunk widely enough this year to have an opinion on this. I guess Tilquin by default, although of course, they are blenders rather than brewers.

Best New Brewery Opening 2014: pass.

Pub/Bar of the Year: Friends of Ham, for having the courage to move forward and expand when it would have been easy to stay the same

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014: Bundobust. Craft beer, amazing food.

Best beer and food pairing: anything at Bundobust

Beer Festival of the Year: I only went to Borefts

Supermarket of the Year: Sainsbury's recently ran a promotion on Duvel which meant it was cheaper than buying it through the usual wholesale channels. That was quite good.

Independent Retailer of the Year: BeerRitz Leeds

Online Retailer of the Year: I concur with Boak and Bailey -

Best Beer Book or Magazine: pass [edit: I'm an idiot -  Brew Britannia was excellent, sorry Ray and Jessica]

Best Beer Blog or Website: all of the ones on my blogroll, with preference to Boak and Bailey and The Beer Nut. Although this post by Adrian Tierney-Jones moves me every time I read it.

Best Beer App: don't use any, so pass

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: Chris Hall is pretty good value

Best Brewery Website/Social media: pass. I'm starting to think I don't really understand social media.....