Keeping it real … Real Ale
Best UK Cask Beer
I seem to be starting a pattern here, my first awards I had Five Points Railway Porter as my favourite keg beer, then last year it was my favourite cask, last year my favourite keg beer was my winner for this years cask… Confused yet? Signature Brew – Roadie is officially my favourite go to session beer and the very few exclusive times I have had it on cask it has straight up smashed it. Juicy, punchy, sessionable, balanced, refreshing, everything I want from a cask beer. It’s only been put in cask a few special times but who knows, maybe we will see more Roadie in cask this year.
Other shout outs – Elephant School Brewing Co & Justin Mason’s – Porter In A Storm & Cloudwater – Spring & Summer Mosiac US Light (had this on for my 30th birthday bash this 3.5% was incredible and only just missed out on the top award)
Best UK Keg Beer
UK keg and key keg beers this year has blown up, everyone is dipping their toes in keg beer from breweries like Hook Norton and Brentwood Brewing Co to the newest London brewery on the scene. Thinking back over the year I have had wonderful one off beers on keg but there is one beer I think back about that I have had a few of, sessioned and looked forward to being brewed again, that beer is 40FT Brewery – Deep. 40FT beers are always so balanced and Deep is just that, a perfect smooth stout. I’m gutted I missed out on their Jamaican Christmas Party where they had Deep, Deeper and Deepest all on back to back. And just in case you don’t take my word for it, 40FT was invited to bring Deep over to the new Guinness Open Gate Brewery craft bar as a guest beer, not a bad stamp of approval on your stout.
Other shout outs – Weird Beard Brew Co – Sorachi Face Plant & Tempest Brewing Co – Longer White Cloud
Best UK Bottled Beer
I was going to do a cheap pop and go for my own beer I brewed with Elephant School and Solvay but that of course would be wrong… Was Cloudwater DIPA v3 this year? Pretty sure it was so that is my winner this year, although I’m not too sure about the once a month release of DIPA as it might be over kill… I’ll still be buying though init!!!
Other shout outs – Brooklyn Brewery & Thornbridge – Serpent & Siren – Caribbean Chocolate Cake
Best UK Canned Beer
There has been so many this year but the one that really sticks in my mind is Magic Rock -Inhaler, not only for how much I love it but for how many people at LOSC that bought it instantly loved it too including people who aint really into their beer.
Other shout outs – Time and Tide – All in Jim APA & Northern Monk – Double Heathen
Best Overseas Draught
3 pints of Goose Island Bourbon County 2016 would have taken something really special to beat it… And it did! Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2014 was INCREDIBLE! I had waited so long to try any of these beers and all my expectations and dreams were smashed in a good way.
Other shout outs – Halve Maan – Bruges Zot Brune Unfiltered & 8 Wired – iStout
Best Overseas Bottled Beer
Justin Mason officially killed SX Bottleshare with a bottle of The Bruery Guivee Bourbon Barrel Aged. Who knows how many years Justin had been holding on to this bad boy but it was up there with one of the best beers I have ever had. Legit Christmas Juice! Since I had it I knew it was going to be my overseas bottled beer of the year…. Then on the 23rd December something happened, I had a bottle of Borg Brugghus Surtur Nr.38 Imperial Stout that my mate Nkemi got me from Iceland for my 30th and somehow it beat Justin to the finish line. This beer was not only the best overseas bottled beer I have but up there in my top 5 ever!
Other shout outs – The Bruery Guivee Bourbon Barrel Aged & De Struise Brouwers – Black Albert (2015)
Best Overseas Canned Beer
That can of Garagista from Garage Beer Project, which Clayton brought me back from New Zealand, was the juiciest can of IPA I have had in a long long long long time, hands down the best overseas canned beer I have had this year.
Other shout outs – Sierra Nevada – Torpedo (BIG CANS!) & Sixpoint – Resin
Best Collaboration Brew
My beer of the year is a collaboration but I don’t like to double up on winners so my second favourite collaboration is Northern Monk & Little Leeds Beer House Neapolitan Pale, never have I had a beer that has made me think “How the fuck did they do this?” as much as this beer.
Best Overall Beer
So this could have also won collaboration beer but I didn’t want to double up on winners. There was so much hype for the Cloudwater DIPA’s throughout the entire year, but in my opinion better than all the DIPA’s was Three’s Company by Cloudwater, Magic Rock and JW Lees. I loved that they had collaborated with a traditional brewery like J W Lees, I loved the bottle art (I would seriously have that Magic Rock designs as my wall paper) and I just loved the beer.
Best Overall Branding
With so many breweries opening and brewing beers artwork has been more important than ever this year, you need to stand out. Time and Tide Brewing from Eastry in Kent have some incredible, colourful, creative art work that brings their cans alive. Bold colours mixed with sketchy art work gives these cans and pump clips a unique look and represents the creative brewing inside the can.
Best UK Brewery
This is a real tough one this year, just like previous years there is so many ways of looking at this award, your favourite might not be the most successful in the country and vice versa etc. So, this year I have thought hard about who has constantly brought their A game, both with beers and events, as well as being popular and a favourite of mine. That brewery for me this year is Five Points Brewing Co. Each beer they release is always brewed to perfection, really balanced, tasting great and never had no problems from both a consumer or from the other side of the bar at LOSC. XPA was one of my favourite beers at this year’s Winter Brewers Market, their Pils is getting top review after top review and Brick Field Brown reminded us all that Five Points still make great cask beer… and yeah Railway Porter being one of my favourite beers EVER! Their Yard Parties have been great, the Brewers Markets is one of the country’s biggest beer events and their ties with the newly opened Mason & Co makes Five Points Brewery my brewery of 2016.
Best Overseas Brewery
Just as they were setting up their taproom in the brewery last year I was lucky enough to be given a bit of a tour around the Brussels Beer Project. The guys there were friendly and so enthusiastic about starting a brewery that could push the boundaries of traditional Belgian brewing. All the bottles I have had from them this year have been great and I can’t wait to go back to check out the taproom at some point next year.
Best New Brewery Opening 2016
This one is one of the easiest awards to decide on this year, hands down the most excited I have been for a brewery to open is Elusive Brewing Co. The Nicest Man in Beer Andy Parker ™ is living proof of the beer geek dream, I think I have so much love for Elusive because Andy is the story of beer blogger and home brewer who made it, changing his life to open his own brewery and instantly getting great reviews, festival awards and a huge following. Every beer that I have had from Elusive this past 6 months have been great and next year, I am sure, will be a massive year for Elusive and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.
Pub/Bar of the Year
This year I have pretty much been living in The Alehouse, it won my best pub last year and I wanted to feature a different pub this year, but they have just gone an installed 4 new keg lines, repainted, got some awesome art work in, increased the bottle selection and just got better and better. So, it is my pub of the year for a second year running. Visiting other pubs and venues has been fairly limited in comparison to other years but there are a few places that I visited the once on days out. Top of the list other shout outs is The Plasterers in Norwich. I wish this pub was at the end of my road, it was perfect, amazing pizza, football screens, one of the best cask, keg and bottle lines up I have seen all year and just a really nice warm cosy pub. Must must must return this year!
Other shout outs – The House of Trembling Madness, York
Best Overseas Pub/Bar (Café) of the Year
My trips abroad have been limited to 24 hours in Czech Republic and 6 hours in Burges this year! The Prague Beer Museum was the perfect place for that moment, after an evening of lots and lots of Pilsner Urquell I wanted something to blow my hop head off and the Prague Beer Museum did that.
Other shout outs – my favourite place in the world Café Rose Red & De Garre
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014
I was hoping to visit Mason & Company as I think that would have topped my list but I haven’t had a chance to check it out. The Leyton Star used to be called The King Harold and it was an almighty shit hole. The Leyton Star has come along and completely transformed the place. With We Serve Humans cooking up amazing burger goodness and Signature Brew Roadie on draught it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Best Beer and Food Pairing
The Other Rooms Anspanch and Hobday Eat the Brewer evening was one delicious dish after another but the Hay home-smoked pork with caramelized cabbage purée and pan-fried kale paired with Anspach & Hobday The Smoked Brown 6% fucking killed it! A room of silence.
Supermarket of the Year
Yeah it has been the same since the first Golden Pints …M&S be running tings!
Independent Retailer of the Year
I’m not sure I have been in too many Independent retailers this year, so I will give the spot light to Chelmsford’s newest beer shop Masters of Alcohol. Masters of Alcohol has a decent range of Belgian beer, British beers and some other beers from around the world, all at a decent price, along with a range of weird and wonderful spirits. I hope they do well and I will be popping in again soon.
Online Retailer of the Year
Beer52, I returned back to them after a break this year and I have received some incredible beers. Ferment magazine has been excellent and with the addition of their online shop now I think Beer52 are leading the way for online beer subscription.
Best Beer Book or Magazine
I’ve enjoyed all of the books Mark Dredge has wrote but Cooking with Beer has to be my favourite one so far. With beautiful photography and some cracking recipes this is my favourite beer and food recipe book. Mark rightfully won awards this year and I personally think he leads the line for the best beer writers in the country right now.
Best Beer Blog or Website
This year it has been battle of the ladies, it has been so close all year long and the winner has only just got to the finish line first because of the new layout and appearance on her blog. I have been a big fan of Rachel Smith and her blog “Look at Brew” since I first started blogging and I think she has wrote some fantastic blog posts this year, especially her beer travel bits. The new layout and look on the blog has just beaten my other favourite blog this year “Brewing East” by Rebecca Pate. Rebecca is new on the beer blogging scene this year but her writing is brilliant, I am expecting big things next year as her experiences in the beer world grow.
Best Beer App
Untappd, even though I did need a break from it after #BadgeQuest2016. As it develops with the verified venue features I feel that we have more to come out of the app.
Best Brewery Website/Social Media
Cloudwater or Beavertown, you could basically flip a coin on these two.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Purely for the fact that he gives me all the likes and retweets my Best Beer Twitterer is Martin Oates (@mjpo007). On a serious note though he wins it for me because he has taken to his new podcast role for Hopinions like a duck to water, including all the extra tweeting he has been doing. The new show along with Steve Bentall (@BeerOclockShow) is my personal favourite podcast full stop (and not just because I was their first guest!).
Beer Festival of the Year
I missed a few of my favourites this year, Chappel, Rochford, I only visited Chelmsford summer festival for an hour and I am still a Indy Man virgin. Hands down winner of any beer festival/event this year is Brooklyn for their Brooklyn Mash, in fact it is possibly the best beer event I have ever been too!
Shout out – 40FT for putting on great event after great event all year long, especially Dalston Beer Day which was my favourite actual beer festival this year