Friday, 3 January 2014

Golden Pints 2013

Each year Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg ask beer bloggers and geeks of the internet to vote for their favourite beers and beer related stuff of the year. After an extended break from blogging, here are my belated 2013 Golden Pints.

Best UK Cask Beer: Oakham Citra
For me, there really can be only one winner in this category: Oakham Citra. It's a beer that is well balanced, brilliantly hoppy and has me coing back for more every time I drink it. I'd go as far as saying that it's one of, if not the most drinkable beer I know. 

Best UK Keg Beer: Beavertown Gamma Ray
In 2013, there were definitely more contenders in this category than with the cask beers. I've recently been enjoying Bosko IPA from Pressure Drop, Weird Beard's Five O'Clock Shadow and Mariana Trench, but when it came down to it, it had to be the delicious Gamma Ray from Beavertown.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: The Kernel Table Beer 
The Kernel's Table Beer is possibly the best session beer I know. It's low in alcohol but packs a massive hoppy punch. After a long day at the office, I like nothing more than cracking open my first bottle. It's the botted beer I drank the most in 2013 and I can't imagine getting bored of it any time soon.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Lagunitas IPA
From the first time I had Lagunitas IPA I was hooked. I've had it every time I've seen it since. Simply a brilliant IPA, nothing more to it!

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's IPA
I'd heard really good things about this beer before I tried it. I try not to let hype get to me too much as I have been disappointed by over-hyped beers in the past, but by god did this live up to expectations - and then some! I had a couple of cans on NYE as it seemed like the perfect brew to ring in the new year with. I can't wait to get some more!

Best Collaboration Brew: Fyne and Wild Cool as a Cucumber
I only had this a couple of times, whilst it was on at the Draft House in Fitzrovia but it blew me away. It's a delicate, flavoursome and down right intriguing beer!

Best Overall Beer:Oakham Citra
As I said above, Oakham Citra is probably my favourite beer right now. Thirst quenching, balanced and beautifully flavoursome.

 Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label: Siren Craft Brew
Siren have created a place for themselves in many people's hearts in 2013 with some damn fine brews. They also have an eye for design as their packaging is destinctive and just downright cool. 

Best UK Brewery: Adnams
This was a toss up between Thornbridge and Adnams as both are incredibally consistent and are probably more consistant across a wider range of styles than anyone else I can think of.

In the end Adnams won out because of their combination of tradition and innovation. I'm not a huge fan of bitters but Southwold Bitter is my favourite. Ghost Ship has thorughout 2013 been one of the beers I have come back to time and again and lets not forget their Dry Hopped Lager which was lively and full of peaches. Innovation and Clump Sagin also kept me happy!

Best Overseas Brewery: Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada have been a firm favourite as long as I have been drinking their beers. Their pale ale is of course brilliant as is Torpedo. This year, I have also been really impressed with Harvest and Bigfoot.

Best New Brewery Opening 2013: Weird Beard
There have been some excellent breweries open this year. Siren have rocked people's worlds, Bad Seed have given Yorkshire another fine brewery and Fourpure have added to London's ever growing list of purveyors of top quality beer. But there could only be one winner and it has to be Weird Beard. 

Their name is great and so are their pump clips but most importantly, they brew fantastic beers. The first I tried was Five O'Clock Shadow which I have come back to repeatedly. Their Amarillo Belgian IPA was exemplary and Hit the Lights and Camden Beard (still calling it that haha!) were great too. An excellent addition to the London brewing scene.

Pub/Bar of the Year: The Well and Bucket - Shoreditch
The Well and Bucket has become one of the places I go to the most to drink. Its decour is cool, the staff  are friendly and helpful and above all else the range of beer is superd.

I also love the Drafthouse Tower Bridge, The Black Heart and The Earl of Essex but The Well and Bucket pipped them to the post. 

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013: Brewdog Shepherd's Bush
I've only been once so far but it blew me away. It's taken the feel of the existing Brewdog bars and amped it up. It's bigger, better and has more beers! A great addition to their growing bar chain.

 Beer Festival of the Year: Craft Beer Rising
In February, Craft beer Rising brought together an excellent selection of new and established breweries and threw some music into the mix for good measure. The setting of the Old Truman brewery was great and it had a really lively feel. Bring on CBR 2014!  

Supermarket of the Year: Waitrose
I'm not the biggest supermarket fan. I dislike their agressive business practices, lack of sustainability and the way they treat workers around the world, so I try to avoid them where I can.

However, if I do end up in one to by beer, I tend to go for Waitrose. Their selection is great. 

 Independent Retailer of the Year: House of the Trembling Madness - York
York's House of the Trembling madness has a bar upstairs serving an interesting selection of beers with a bias towards Belgian styles. Downstairs is a brilliant bottle shop. It takes in the best of British, American and global beers. It's definitely York's best beer stockist and one of the best I know of. I spent New Year in York this time around a and got a fine selection of beer from them.

Online Retailer of the Year: Ales  by Mail:
Simply, they are the one I use the most. I had a cheap bin ends case from them early in the year which had a few duds in it but also contained some great beers at bargain basment prices! Their selection is great and their customer service is good too.

Best Beer Book or Magazine: Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge
A top book. I got this for Christmas and have been dipping in and out of it on a daily basis since. It contains interesting facts and lots of stories behind the beers he talks about. It's also really nicely designed and presented. 

Best Beer Blog or Website: The Evening Brews
The Evening Brews is a website I have come back to a lot during 2013. Its well designed and features pieces from an interesting range of contributors. 

Best Beer App: Craft Beer London
I use Craft Beer London a lot and it's repeatedly introduced me to new bars and beery stuff happening in London.

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: Nate Southwood
Nate is someone I've met up with a few times over a beer during 2013. He's passionate about beer, sometimes ranty, sometimes funny and always informed.

Best Brewery Website/Social media: Fourpure
Fourpure are still very new but they have launched with a fantastically simple but clear website. They are also engaging on Twitter and are using social media well to spread awareness of their brand. 

I popped down to try their beers on a Saturday a few weeks ago and was really impressed. Their whole core range is great and they have Pilsner on the way! Check them out on Twitter and try their beer!

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: My home made veggie bean burgers and Kernel Table Beer
Simply a delicious combination and one I have gone for on a number of occasions.