Best UK Cask Beer
I’ve found this category a tough one this year, I’ve not drank less cask beer, if anything I think I have had more but I can’t think of many that has really blown me away. Well apart from one right near the end of the year a couple weeks ago at the Pigs Ear beer festival. It is no secret how much I love Five Points Railway Porter, its pretty much been in all my Golden Pints Awards from the start but this year I feature a slightly different version of it. Derailed Porter has been aged for 9 months on Brettanomyces wild yeast, the result is this amazing funky smoky porter which is a bit stronger than the original version. Not often I have two of the same beers back to back at a beer festival but Derailed Porter was hands down the best of the festival and possibly the only beer I drank again straight after for the entire year.
Best UK Keg Beer
This winner was like a glass of desert that I could have drank all evening long (although at its high ABV that wouldn’t be a wise idea!). This delicious desert style beer was Moncada Vanilla Custard Imperial Stout. It was a limited edition brew that I had at 40FT’s Dalston Beer Day in the summer and it was one of the only beers to really come close to challenging my beer of the year that you will see later…
Best UK Bottled Beer
Just like the cask award I have really struggled with this category this year… I can’t think off the top of my head of many stand out bottle beers, mainly as there has been so many cans drank in 2017. Thankfully there is one absolute stunner, which I am over the moon that I still have a bottle tucked away in the cellar, that beer being Adnams Both Barrels. Adnams have taken their classic Broadside and barrel aged it on bourbon barrels and cherries, the result is like this boozy Rodenbach Grand Cru style Flemish Red beer, it is stunning and if they do it again (I think they are) then I will be snatching a few more up!
Best UK Canned Beer
How Shindigger got their can of Session so juicy and tasty is beyond me, as is the fact it wasn’t being sung about from the rafters. For me this was hands down the best UK can of beer this year, while there may be lots and lots of other big name brewery beers making people beat their meat over I personally think this little hype-less wonder was better than the lot. And it was packaged in a super swiggy 500ml!
Best Overseas Draught
Back in April I went on a press trip to Belgium (there will be a blog post its just been a crazy year and I feel awful for not doing it but it will still happen!) and although I didn’t pay for this beer it made no difference in how fucking amazing it was. During a trip to De Struise Brouwers I was lucky enough to try the very exclusive Zombienation Russian Imperial Stout. We didn’t have long to have our beer and it is without doubt the quickest I have ever downed a 17% monster!!!
Best Overseas Bottled Beer
My mate Harry lives in Vancouver, he left the beautiful scenes of sunny Essex for Canada when he turned 18 and hasn’t looked back since. I would love to go visit him but I haven’t been able to yet, thankfully for me when he returns he brings me back some of the finest Canadian beers that I just wouldn’t be able to get here in the UK. One bottle that he brought over was banging and even though when I came to open it the beer had been bottled a few months back it tasted like it was a brand new fresh IPA. This beer was Driftwood Brewery Fat Tug. From now on I will demand that every time he returns to the UK he must bring me a bottle of Fat Tug.
Other shout outs – Founders – Barrel Aged Backwards Bastard & Amundsen Bryggeri – Fear the Reaper 2015 triple Barrel Aged
Best Overseas Canned Beer
Everyone loves a can and just like the UK cans are now taking over the world. The one that really knocked my socks off was Pirate Life IIPA both for what was in the can, as it was a perfect West Coast style Double IPA, and for the design on the outside of the top of the can with the entire brewing process printed on it. Loved it!
Other shout outs – Odell Brewing – IPA & Pirate Life – IPA
Best Collaboration Brew
I haven’t been as quick to jump at new releases this year, I don’t really have a FOMO so I don’t think I have had or maybe released I have had many collaboration brews. Elusive Brew & Unity – Exxtra Life is one that I randomly had down the Alehouse one Saturday night and it hit the spot big time. Perfectly brewed Belgian style beer.
Best Overall Beer
I have only had this beer on one occasion (well I had it twice that day as it was that damn good!) and it was way back at the start of the year. Pretty much every beer I have had this year I think back to that beer I had at Stokey Beer Fest and ask myself, “Does it beat Elusive Brew Raspberry Ruin Imperial Stout?” and every other beer I have had this year the answer is no. This beauty of a beer weighed in at 8.8% and like some sort of time machine it instantly took me back to a kid eating these raspberry Panda liquorice bars that my mum used to get to get from the health food store. Andy has had a stunner of a year, top beer after top beer and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for him. I am guessing that it might be possible to get it again this year at the Stokey Beer Fest, I’m gutted I can’t make it to find out but if you can then I strongly suggest you buy a ticket now at this link.
Best Overall Branding
Northern Monk nearly won it with their stunning peel off double artwork on their Travel Notes collaboration with Lonely Planet. But toward the end of this year I feel in love with the Twisted Barrel can designs, I love how they look (not to mention they taste great too).
Best UK Brewery
I always look at this award as who I enjoyed the most over the year not who I think has done the best this year. As you can see over these Golden Pint awards Elusive Brew features several times, great beer after great beer, the awesome Collaborgeddon event and my favourite MTB TTO at LOSC all gave Elusive Brew a great chance of winning this award. I also think that Fullers have had a great year, first for setting up the cask room at London Craft Beer Festival (which I actually preferred to the rest of the festival), in doing projects like the Fullers & Friends boxset they have strengthened their image within a craft beer circle and they have consistently made great beers all year. But my personal favourite brewery is 40FT, throughout the year they have thrown great parties, events and tapped into a mixture of local communities (better than most breweries I can think of). They have grown as a brewery team and can be seen in more bars across London, they’ve brewed some top beers over the previous 12 months including their barrel aged version of Deep “Deepest” and an amazing chili beer with Dalston Chillies. But simply the reason they are my Golden Pints Brewery 2017 is that I love hanging out and having fun at the shipping container brewery when I am having a beer with everyone at 40FT, whenever I am there I am laughing and smiling… And surely that is the most important thing about beer right? Having a good time.
Best Overseas Brewery
Krakow was AMAZING for Craft Beer, it properly surprised me and I still plan on doing a blog post all about it even though I went nearly a year ago! Every beer that Michelle and I had in Pracowina Piwa Tap House was spot on. They brewed some of the best West Coast IPA’s I have had all year long. I haven’t had them since visiting but they have been my favourite overseas beers I have had all year long. If you are visiting Krakow (I strongly advise you do) then you MUST go to their taproom to try their beers.
Best New Brewery Opening 2017
I am keeping it local with this award, I can see Leigh on Sea Brewery going on to do big things next year. They are now brewing on their brand new 10BBL kit with their lovely tap room next door based down in Progress Road Eastwood/Leigh in Essex. From the get go they were open to key keg as well as cask, which is something that we seem to be way behind here in Essex. All the beers I have had have been good and I love the branding. I can’t wait to pop down to the tap room when it is open and work my way through all their beers properly.
Pub/Bar of the Year
Since starting my new job with West Berkshire Brewery I have been walking into many many many pubs this year, lots of which are new to me. This makes this category a little difficult as lots of the new pubs that I love are new accounts for me and I don’t want to be seen as using this to gain work brownie points but the truth is a few of places I have been to for work purposes are some of my favourite pubs this year. Places like The Old China Hand in Islington/Farringdon way, Kings Arms in Waterloo and The Gladstone Arms in Borough. I have really come to understand my love for the pub again, it doesnt have to be somewhere with a huge rotating beer selection but somewhere that keeps the beer perfectly and I feel comfortable in. As I don’t want it to get messy with work accounts I will stick with the place that has won it every year for me and that’s my local The Alehouse in Chelmsford. I will continue to shout out loud about how great it is till it wins CAMRA awards but till that happens it will be my pub of the year after year!
Other shout outs – See above!
Best Overseas Pub/Bar (Café) of the Year
It is no surprise that my favourite overseas venue is the home of my favourite over seas brewery this year. Pracowina Piw Tap House was one of the best places I have been all year and if this place was to open in London and provided the beers tasting like they did when I visited, then they would shoot straight to the top of the craft beer meccas! With 20 taps of their own beer and a couple of guest beers from the top breweries around Europe there is plenty to keep you busy.
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2017
Again I don’t want to mix up work and pleasure as The Crafty Fellas bar in Leadenhall Market could easily take this award but I will go for something local to me. I still think there is lots of room for improvement (and it will come with time) but the Moulsham Tap is a great addition to Chelmsford and its growing beer scene. 12 Key Keg lines alongside a huge list of gins makes The Moulsham Tap a great place for everyone to go out for an entire weekend evening.
Best Beer and Food Pairing
I attended two events put together by Matt Curtis and The Prince N22, one was a evening of BBQ food and Magic Rock beers and the other was with one of my favourite breweries De La Senne from Brussels. Throughout the evening there was so many great beer and food pairings (although it wasn’t directly a food an d beer pairing evening) but my favourite was De La Senne Bruxellensis alongside The Bear BQ BBQ Clams with Chorizo and Salsa Verde.. Heavenly.
Best Beer Festival/Event 2017
I didn’t go to any of the big named festivals this year other than Craft Beer Rising, which was good fun and total mashup! However, Stokey Beer Festival was really chilled out and simple, I loved the set up of the ticket and it was where I had my favourite beer of the year, I really recommend you check it out this year.
Supermarket of the Year
Waitrose has grabbed back the best supermarket award with a firm grip. I feel M&S has gone off the boil a little, there is no doubt they are superb for train beers, even at Liverpool Street I can now grab a can of Magic Rock for the way home if needed. But Waitrose has just smashed it this year, they have extended their range in larger stores especially bottled ales but also the Fullers & Friends boxset was an idea helped by Waitrose and you can pick up 750ml bottles of Wild Beer Co. What a time to be alive!
Independent Retailer of the Year
Now I am professional Pint Pusher I am meant to be selling beers to Independent Retailers, but there is one place I ALWAYS seem to get it the wrong way round. There doesn’t seem to be a time when I don’t walk out of Hop Burns & Black without buying something. I was late to the party though as I had never made the trip down to East Dulwich till I was working for West Berkshire Brewery but now I have been to visit it is one of the places I look forward to travelling to the most.
Other shout outs – Ocean Wines Essex Road & Mother Kellys bottle shop N16
Online Retailer of the Year
Minus one month where Beer52 did a box of beers they brewed themselves exploring the different elements of beer, which I personally wasn’t very impressed with at all, their service has been excellent throughout the year. Ferment magazine is at an all time high, I always look forward to flicking through the pages reading lots of different articles from some of my favourite beer writers. Beer wise there has been some stunners including the bottle of Backwards Bastard that I have a shout out to earlier. I am a paying customer for Beer52 and as long as there isn’t too much more repeat boxes like the only one I didn’t like then my money will continue to be spent on Beer52.
Best Beer Book or Magazine
My favourite book of the year was Fuck That’s Delicious from one of my new favourite rappers and chefs Action Bronson but beer wise the book I’ve enjoyed reading most this year (although not published in 2017) is Stephan Beumont The Beer & Food Companion. If you want to learn more about beer and food pairing then basically read this book ASAP.
Best Beer Blog or Website
Now I’m not sitting in front of a computer all day long in an office I find it a bit harder to keep up with all the blogs I read, but there is one I keep an eye out for, which just narrowly missed out on my favourite beer blog last year. Brewing East from Rebecca Pate has grown from strength to strength as Rebecca explores the world of beer starting from novice fan blogger to now, like myself, working within the beer industry (which I am proper chuffed about for her). I look forward to seeing where Brewing East goes next year and hopefully Rebecca is able to juggle both working in the industry and continuing to write my favourite beer blog into next year.
Best Beer App
Instagram is my main place to explore different beers and to vent my own beer passion. I have a love hate relationship with Untappd and I seem to go through periods of using it a lot then longer periods of not using it all! Where as Instagram is #4life.
Best Brewery Website/Social Media
Cloudwater continue to impress me with long, informative, interesting blog posts and tweets. I’m not a huge Cloudwater fan boy but it is hard to knock anything they/Paul says and long may the honest-open attitude continue.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Social media hasn’t been the best of places recently, there has been a lot of people making themselves sound like right cunts if I am to be honest, so much so that I haven’t been paying that much attention to Twitter in the past couple months. But ignoring that negativity, this award was 100% the easiest decision to make this year. Between tweeting some outright motivational positivity, joining in beer chat as well as generating beer chat, replying to everyone and liking all the tweets I have no idea how this man actually has time to brew for a job. Not to mention… Beer and Bunny pics!!! (And some great tweets to about West Berkshire Brewery & Renegade recently too*). This year my top tweeter and all round top bloke is Carl aka @ThaBearded1 if you don’t follow (I am sure you already do!) then click that follow button!
*Also a rather phwooarr photo of him drinking beer in a hot tub which made Original Gravity!!!