Keeping it real … Real Ale
This is the first time I have done this but I thought I might as well jump on the bandwagon and join in the fun. I’m not sure if we are meant to do new beers made this year or just our favourites had this year, I’m going with favourite had.
Best UK Cask Beer
I’m very lucky, each month I can try an incredible amount of cask beer while working at the Leyton Orient Supporters Club. We get beers from all over the country and in this last year we have all seen beer/real ale/craft beer really step the game up! But there was one beer that really stuck in my mind… Brighton Bier Thirty Three is hands down the best low abv beer I have ever had, weighing in at a tiny 3.3% Thirty Three tastes amazing and can easily challenge any higher abv beer!
Other shout outs – Caveman Brewery Citra & Hackney Brewery New Zealand Pale Ale
Best UK Keg Beer
If I shut my eyes hard enough I can remember that lovely Five Points Brewing Co Railway Porter when I tried it back in Mother Kellys a few months back!
Other shout outs – Thornbridge Halcyon & Pressure Drop Brewing Bosko
Best UK Bottled /Canned Beer
Thanks to Beer52 I’ve had the chance to sample a lot of bottles from around the UK this year more so than any year before, I’ve had some real treats but the one I enjoyed the most was Fyne Ales Jarl! I also had this on cask and it was a contender for best cask beer but the memory of the bottles makes me wish I had more! As for best canned beer I am going for Beavertown Brewery Quelle Saison, just to be different from Gamma Ray, a rightful winner in itself but so many other people have also picked this. I wasn’t sold when I first had Quelle on tap and bottle but in a can I feel it comes to life and is a great example of how some beers can be very different in a can to a bottle.
Other shout outs – Purple Moose Brewery Ysgawen (Elderflower Ale) & Alchemy Brewing LTD Oynx Black IPA / Fourpure Brewing Co Session IPA & Adnams Ghost Ship
Best Overseas Draught
This whole category was hard as I’ve been away a lot this year and had lots of top beers in Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, Germany and Lithuania so the choices were hard. But there was one beer my girlfriend and I had in the brilliant Nuetnigenough restaurant in Brussels… De Struise Brouwers Black Albert… Weighing in at a massive 13% this beer made me smack my lips, hold my hand in the air and attempt to speak French! This was just from a tiny sample the owner gave us too!
Other shout outs – Mikeller Breakfast Stout & St Feuillien / Green Flash Belgian Coast IPA
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
I only had this a few weeks ago at Christmas but Steamworks Brew Pub Brewery Pumpkin Ale, for me, is the best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had so a big hats off to the Canadian brewery! I haven’t had too many overseas cans but I did try Ska Brewing Copany Modus Hoperandi for the first time and that was banging!
Other shout outs – Flying Dog Brewery Easy IPA & Brasserie De la Senne & Le Trou du Diable Schieve Tabarnak / Flying Dog Brewery Snake Dog IPA & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Torpedo
Best Collaboration Brew
I love a collaboration beer, bring the beer love together! There was a lot of hype for Camden Town’s IHL this year but for me there was another contribution from Camden Town Brewery that really got me going, that was Camden Town Brewery & Beavertown Brewery One Hell of a Beaver, I serously thought this was the best beer that Camden Brewery had a hand to play in this year.
Other shout outs – Beavertown Brewery & Wild Beer Co Rubus Maximus and Thornbridge & Sierra Nevada Brewing Twin Peaks
Best Overall Beer
I didn’t want to double up on winners in my awards otherwise this one could have taken best collaboration brew, over seas bottle beer and overseas draught but… Prairie Artisan Ales & Evil Twin Brewing Bible Belt for me was not only one of the best beers I had this year but ever! I had it twice on draught once in ALEhouse in Riga and once in Cask in Pimlico and I also had it from the bottle too. It’s incredible it makes me want to cry it’s so beautiful… Go out right now and find it!
Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
Hatrick winner here for Beavertown Brewery. Their artwork is another level, it’s so good you can hang it up at home. The artwork on the cans are a fine example of colour use and their pump clips, bottle labels and merchandise are all really good. For me there couldn’t be an another contender even come close! I am a sucker for the merch I cannot get enough of the T Shirts and I look forward to what this year brings!
Shout outs – Purple Moose Brewery and Thornbridge
Best UK Brewery
This is a tough round, Beavertown could have taken this as everything they touch turns to absolute win! But there’s been one brewery that every time I see I just get more impressed…Brighton Bier, they’ve only just moved into their own brewery but thier cask ale is constantly brilliant. The staff members are awesome, level headed and really want the traditional English beer to be appreciated. I cannot wait for this year for them as I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve in the capital and the growth of their brewery and hopefully bottled beers will,in my eyes, make them one of the countries best breweries.
Other shout outs – Beavertown, Thornbridge, Purple Moose & Elephant School Brewing Co
Best Overseas Brewery
Brassiere De Le Senne … Every new beer I have from these guys I love! Every new bottle label from these guys I love! New school craft beer brewers in Belgium paving the way for Belgian Craft Beer.
Other shout outs – De Struise Brouwers and Brouwerij de Prael
Best New Brewery Opening 2014
I found this really tough… trying to think back over the year at what has opened up this year and I cant! So I am going with what brewery was new to me this year. Before setting into their new (2014 opened so maybe this alone will justify my winning choice) tap room I had never had any of their beers before and on that night when my train home was cancelled from 6pm till about 11pm I had the chance to sample them all (while drunkenly throwing darts!)… that brewery was The Redchurch Brewery. I think they will continue to grow in 2015 and I look forward to returning to the awesome tap room bar!
Pub/Bar of the Year
Now I might be slightly bias here but after another year of just narrowly missing out on national CAMRA club of the year and again bagging more gold awards, I don’t think there is anywhere in London who sells more real ale in such small opening hours (heck maybe even the whole country!), my pub/bar of the year is the Leyton Orient Supporters Club. Only open on match days and the occasional beer festival or special ale night LOSC unbelievably sold 264 different beers from 154 different breweries which roughly works out at 22,000 pints of real ale over last season!!! Add that to roughly 13,500 pints of lager makes the incredible stat of an average of 270 pints of beer were drank per hour!….. And breath…Wow!
Shout outs – ALEhouse in Riga and Spunka bar in Vilnius.
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014
This one is easy Mother Kellys! Enough said!
Shout outs – The Redchurch Brewery taproom and Craft Beer Co Brighton
Best beer and food pairing
Got to admit my knowledge and experience in beer and food matching is tiny! The best food and beer night was the awesome Belgian independence day celebrations at The Dove and especially the surprise pairing of classic Belgian mussels with Lindemans Cuvee.
Shout outs – Nuetnigenough and Les Brassins in Brussels
Beer Festival of the Year
I have massively slacked this year with beer festivals! This was the first year that I didn’t go to my favourite beer festival at Chappel in the summer, Rochford in the winter or the east London CAMRA beer festival! Shocking! But my pick here is the Brussels beer festival, it had its fair share of faults but it was my first abroad beer festival and it was buzzing!
Shout outs – Chelmsford CAMRA summer beer festival and Leyton Orient Supporters Club Beer Festival
Supermarket of the Year
I guess this classes as a supermarket… It’s not a big one in the England but it is in America and the store in Piccadilly stocks a great selection of beers at reasonable prices, so my supermarket of the year is The Whole Food Store.
Shout outs – Waitrose and Aldi
Independent Retailer of the Year
The customer service, selection of beers including ones I had never heard of and small layout makes The Malting Pot in Brussels my favourite beer shop I have visited this year.
Shout outs – Craft Beer Shop and Billericay Brewing Beer Shop both in Billericay Essex
Online Retailer of the Year
Going the extra mile wins this category for me, not only do Ales by Mail have a great online service, website and selection they also do great online twitter beer tasting #beerybits. If you haven’t taken part then look out for their next night.
Shout outs – Beer 52 and Beermerchants
Best Beer Book or Magazine
The best magazine is the brilliant Belgian beer and food magazine, I stumbled on this and I’m so glad I did as the magazine is slick, smart and a great read. The best book I have read this year is World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb
Shout outs – London Craft Beer and Beer magazine
Best Beer Blog or Website
Very hard to pick one this year! I have been blogging now for two years and in that time I have found so many great blogs I check daily to see if there is new reads! I first started blogging because there were three blogs I loved to read as much as possible, Beer Beauty, Beersay and the retired blog Le Petit Four (RIP) I know how hard it is to keep writing and have time away from drinking the beer to write about but this year there’s been one blog that I feel consistently and often posts great read after great read and that blog is Belgian Smaak! The combination of great easy reads and beautiful photos makes this blog worth returning to every day.
Best Beer App
I only really use Untappd and I’m not sure I use it enough either!
Shout out – Craft Beer London
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Very hard again… There are so many great twitter users I’ve got to chat to over the year. When it comes to tasting notes I think Justin Mason is king! Watching the bromance of Chris Hall and Matt Curtis always makes me chuckle while I should be working! I love Nathaniel Southwood‘s honesty in his blog posts and tweets. Cee not only makes music I love to listen to but he also brings original and fun beer reviews in the 1000s! But over the last year there’s one twitter user that springs to mind that I’m always looking out for and that’s Kim not only twitter but her photos on Instagram are great fun!
Best Brewery Website/Social media
For twitter presence I think Beavertown are very good, they always get back and chat as well as announce! I visit a lot of brewery websites when doing the tasting notes for Leyton Orient Supporters Club beer notes and there are a few that pop up in my mind but I always like the look of Ilkley Brewery website.