It’s December, which means it’s time for this year’s Golden Pints awards:
Best UK Cask Beer
1st) Cambridge Moonshine Ison. Wonderful, resinously hoppy beer from a great brewer.
2nd) Oakham Green Devil. Always wonderful to find this fruity IPA on draft. Such a shame they stopped bottling it.
Honourable mention: Bexar San Jacinto – a hop monster from this Texan brewer based in Peterborough doing in-your-face exciting things with beer.
Best UK Keg Beer
1st) Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch. Fantastic beer, first sampled at the launch event of the beer at Euston Tap, and I’ve had it several times since (on keg at Norwich Tap was the last occasion, and very nice it was too).
2nd) Summer Wine Pacer. Light and easy drinking with lots of floral hops.
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
1st) Any of Buxton’s bottled beers really, from their IPAs such as Axe Edge and Wild Boar to their Rednik Stout. I’ll settle on Buxton Axe Edge today, but that could change tomorrow…
2nd) Magic Rock Rapture. A fruity red ale, one of my go-to beers.
Honourable mention: Thornbridge Jaipur - another go-to beer, citrus hops and full bodied.
Best Overseas Draught Beer
1st) Ithaca Flower Power (NY, USA). I had this in Salem, MA, and Boston, MA. Loaded with fruity and floral hops, golden, drinks SO easily, wonderfully balanced, I could go on…
2nd) Maine Beer Co Peeper (ME, USA). I drank this in New York, Portland, ME and Boston, MA. Fresh hops, sweet and delicate, wonderfully crafted beer.
Honourable mentions: The lovely Mendocino Imperial IPA (CA, USA) and the fantastic Lagunitas IPA (CA, USA) with its tropical fruit flavours. And De Praal Mary should also get a mention, a wonderful barley wine from the Netherlands. Wow to all five of these beers.
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
1st) Green Flash West Coast IPA (CA, USA). Intensely hoppy, my sort of beer.
2nd) Ithaca Flower Power. Ditto
Honourable mention: St Bernadus 6 -Pater. A go-to beer when I’m after something velvety and comforting.
Best Collaboration Brew
Hard to call.. I haven’t had that many, and none have particularly stuck in my mind.
Best Overall Beer
Ithaca Flower Power. Just lovely.
Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
1st) Grain Brewery wooden pump clips in general – you can immediately see if there’s a Grain beer on at the bar.
2nd) Magic Rock – I like the carnival/funfair style of their designs.
Honourable mention: Buntingford Brewery, for the witty and sometimes rambling wording on their pump clips.
Best UK Brewery
1st) Buxton. Consistently great.
2nd) Magic Rock. Love their beers, keg or cask.
Honourable mention: Partizan. They are are doing great things with beer; I haven’t had a bad one from them
Best Overseas Brewery
I’d have to go with Rogue (OR, USA) – I’ve had many of their beers on draft and in bottles, and I love the Dry Hopped St Rogue Red, Mocha Porter, Juniper Pale Ale, Brutal IPA… the list goes on…
2) St Bernardus, Belgium – high quality, easy-drinking beer.
Best New Brewery Opening 2013
Redwell in Norwich, even though strictly speaking they opened towards the end of 2012. Great little brewery that sells good quality keg beer and lager and hosts many events in its small and cute space.
Pub/Bar of the Year
International – McSorley’s Old Ale House, NYC. Wonderful atmosphere with sawdust on the floor, banter from the barman, dusty antiques and newspaper cuttings all over the walls, and when you order one beer (light or dark) you receive two, whether you like it or not.
Closer to home – The Free Press, Cambridge (quality beer, banter and atmosphere) and the Elm Tree, Cambridge (cosy, candlelit den and lots of Belgian beer).
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013
Pint Shop, Cambridge, for the large range of high quality hard-to-get-hold-of keg and cask beer from breweries far and wide.
Beer Festival of the Year
Cambridge Beer Festival. Great beer and crowd, and fantastic location on Jesus Green – you can’t beat drinking beer on the grass in the sun.
Supermarket of the Year
Waitrose. Good selection of beer from the likes of Thornbridge, BrewDog and Fullers.
Independent Retailer of the Year
Bacchanalia, Cambridge. Nice and local with a good range of local and national beers, as well as beers from Europe and the USA.
Online Retailer of the Year
Beers of Europe. Fast delivery and a good selection of beers.
Best Beer Book or Magazine
CAMRA’s quarterly BEER magazine. An interesting read.
Best Beer Blog or Website
pintsandpubs.wordpress.com. Lots of well researched pub history, amusing anecdotes, and random interesting information about beer and breweries. Always an enjoyable, informative read.
Best Beer App
Craft Beer London. Well, it was useful when visiting London! I don’t tend to use beer apps much.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Best Brewery Website/Social media
For social media I’ll go for Buntingford Brewery – the blog posts are very amusing, dry, witty, and ever so slightly sarcastic.
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year
Thai green curry with a light, refreshing Oakham Citra.