The Golden Pint Awards is an annual poll created by Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg, aimed at gathering the consensus of the beer community on the best of 2013. Anyone is welcome to participate and this is my first contribution. Thanks to Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg for their continued efforts at maintaining the Golden Pints, it’s great to be involved this year. It’s a tricky list to put together and I’ll probably want to change my mind as soon as I hit the publish button but it’s how I feel this weekend at least.
Best UK Cask Beer:
A tough category to complete, one of the toughest really, but there are a few beers which I find myself sitting down and enjoying a session of even if there are eight other things on tap. That’s a rare feat and deserves mentioning, so here they are:
1. Mary Jane (Ilkley Brewery)
2. Acer (Bristol Beer Factory)
3. Ghost Ship (Adnam’s)
Best UK Keg Beer:
No other UK beer on tap has done more to help me encourage people to broaden their horizons than this one:
Camden Pale Ale
Best UK bottled or canned beer:
1. Halcyon (Thornbridge)
2. 13 Guns (Thwaites)
3. Milk Stout (Bristol Beer Factory)
Best overseas draught beer:
I debated this one. I found it once at a German beer festival in Cardiff and haven’t seen or heard of it again so debated ruling it out, but beer this good deserves a mention. I can still taste it, eight months on:
Green Gold (Ganstaller Brau)
Best overseas bottled or canned beer:
1. Orval (Orval, Belgium) Bottled
2. Modus Hoperandi (Ska Brewing, US) Canned
3. Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewery, US) Bottled
4. Duvel Tripel Hop – Sorachi Ace (Duvel-mortgat, Belgium) Bottled
Best Collaboration brew:
I don’t really seek out or notice collaboration brews. I should really, it’s an affirmation of the beer industry working together rather than against itself, so maybe I should look into it more for 2014. The one memorable collaborative brew, such as it is, was between Brains Craft Brewery and their former pub landlord Chris Rowlands, aka Beardface. The beer is now rebadged as ‘Santa’s Beard’, a Christmas beer.
Beardface Milk Stout (Brains Craft Brewery, Wales) Cask
Best overall beer:
2013 is the year I discovered Orval. ‘Nuff said.
Orval (Orval Brewery, Belgium)
Best branding, pumpclip or label:
The London scene is blazing a design trail, with Beavertown, Partizan, Weird Beard and others all producing great artwork for their labels. In spite of this, one particular brewery continues to set the bar pretty flipping high, thanks to Ralph Steadman:
Flying Dog Ales (US)
Best UK Brewery:
1. Ilkley Brewery – Yorkshire is a hotbed of great breweries and of them Ilkley is my favourite
2. Thornbridge – You cannot go wrong with a Thornbridge beer; consistently excellent throughout
3. Tiny Rebel – Putting Wales on the map
Best overseas brewery
1. Odell (US)
2. Brooklyn (US)
3. Einstok (Iceland)
Best new brewery opening 2013
Not a question I can answer. There are too many new openings this year which I haven’t tried.
Pub/Bar of the Year
A friend of ham is a friend of mine. I always make a point to pop in whenever I’m in Leeds and it shows just what can be done with even a tiny bit of space.
Friends of Ham (Leeds, UK)
Best new pub/bar opening 2013
Three cheers for the Urban Tap House, Cardiff. Tiny Rebel stepped in to the breach when Cardiff’s first craft beer bar ran aground. Ably managed by Chris Rowlands it hasn’t put a foot wrong since it opened.
Urban Tap House, Cardiff.
Beer Festival of the Year
Craft Beer Rising, London.
(Special mention to the Maibock Festival at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff)
Supermarket of the Year
Morrison’s, because they keep me supplied in Thwaites and Adnams
(Special mention to M&S for their craft ale range which keeps going from strength to strength)
Independent Retailer of the Year
Beer Ritz, Leeds
Online Retailer of the Year
Ales by Mail
Best Beer Book or Magazine
1. Cardiff’s Pubs and Breweries by Brian Glover
2. For the Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymous
3. Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge
Best beer blog or website
1. Boak and Bailey, because.
2. Leigh Linley ‘Good Food Good Beer’ – Leigh’s homely slices of Leeds and Yorkshire sate my nostalgic cravings for God’s Own Country.
3. Pub Curmudgeon – Mudgie’s approach provides a sharp and refreshing counter-point when the cheery beery crowd becomes too cloying, a bit like lemon juice applied directly to the eyes.
Best Beer App
There’s one go-to app which always keeps me in touch with the beer community wherever I am.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Chris Hall and Nate Southwood equally deserve this. Chris provides pithy comments that always perk me up while Nate is always challenging the status quo and pushing against the boundaries. In a tie-break situation, I’d lean toward Chris, as he shut down America or something with this Tweet:
Best Brewery Website/Social Media
From a social media point of view, one brewery keeps a steady hand on its pub estate, runs frequent competitions and responds fairly promptly to my complaints and query. They
‘re more corporate than human but (see below) they get the job done well.
Edit: The Brains Brewery Twitter account thanked me for nominating them and, quickly re-reading the above to double check what I’d said, I realised my comment “more corporate than human” is poorly worded. They are human people behind the account. What I meant to convey was that they’re more professional than personal, which is understandable given the Regional size of the brewery as opposed to a small brewery where the brewers’ personality more often comes to the fore in their twitter feed. No offence meant, Brains, you’re doing a great job.
Food and beer pairing of the year
Fraoch Heather Ale and haggis. Blew. My. Mind.