Golden Pints 2014

82ca1-goldenpintslogoIt’s that time of year again when I rack my brains trying to remember the best beers I have tried over the last year to nominate for the Golden Pints awards. So here are my choices. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few good ones, but that’s probably because I was having such a nice time drinking them that I never noted them down.

Best UK cask beer: Dark Star Hophead. A tasty, hoppy, easy drinking session beer that I’ve had quite a lot of over the past year.

Best UK keg beer: Magic Rock/Toccalmatto Custard Pie. Heaven in a glass. Brew this again guys pleeeease/per favore!

Yorkshire BlackoutBest UK bottled/canned beer: The Great Yorkshire Brewery’s Yorkshire Blackout bottle/Beavertown Gamma Ray can. Yorkshire Blackout, with its deep chocolate notes, was discovered on a trip to the Dales earlier this year, and we just stocked up again on a recent trip to York – a beautiful bottle of beer. I’ve had many many cans of Gamma Ray (the last one being on Christmas Day) and I just love it – a wonderful hoppy American-style session beer.

Best overseas draught beer: Lagunitas IPA. On draught regularly in the Cambridge Brewhouse, and it’s beautiful stuff with lots of lovely tropical fruit flavours.

Best overseas bottled/canned beer: Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA bottle/Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi can. Finest Kind is a great US IPA, easy to drink and a go-to beer when I want those American IPA flavours. Same goes for the tasty Modus Hoperandi.

Best collaboration brew: Magic Rock/Toccalmatto Custard Pie. As mentioned above.

Best overall beer for 2014: Magic Rock/Toccalmatto Custard Pie. See above. Sorry if this is getting boring.

MAGIC-ROCK-carnivalBest branding, pumpclip or label: Magic Rock artwork.

Best UK brewery: Magic Rock.

Best overseas brewery: A tough one. I’d say Port Brewing, CA, USA. I love their gorgeous Wipeout IPA.

Best new brewery opening 2014: Hillside Brewery, Gloucestershire. The brewers of the lovely resinously hoppy Centurion and many other great beers. Hard to believe they are a new brewery.

Pub/bar of the year: Pivni, York. Lots of space on 3 levels, quirky seating areas, lots of great beers on keg and cask, good atmosphere.

photo 4 (3)

Hopinator in the Mash Tun, Norwich

Best new pub/bar opening 2014: Mash Tun, Norwich. Clean and fresh decor, good beer, good food, and oh that hopinator/infusinator..!

Best beer and food pairing: Champagne truffles with the deliciously rich Founders Breakfast Stout. Works like a dream.

Beer festival of the year: Cambridge Beer Festival. It’s big, it’s in the middle of a park with lots of seating and grass to sit on, it has over 200 beers, and it’s on for almost a week.

Supermarket of the year: Waitrose. Always an interesting choice.

Independent retailer of the year: Trembling Madness, York. Sooo many beers to choose from.

Online retailer of the year: Beers of Europe, nr Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Reliable and lots of choice.

Best beer book or magazine: BEER. Always a good read.

Best beer blog or website: Pints and Pubs. Lots of well-researched pub history, quirky facts, and he really brings the history to life.

Best beer twitterer: Broadford Brewer. Always find his tweets amusing, beer related or not.

Best beer app: I don’t really use beer apps, but I’d say when I’m in the capital Craft Beer London occasionally comes in handy.

Best brewery website/social media: Magic Rock. Informative website, interesting blog.

Published in: on December 30, 2014 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Golden Pints 2013

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
InternationalMcSorley’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 homeThe 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
@pintsandpubs .

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.

Golden Pints 2012

golden pints

I wasn’t planning on doing the Golden Pints Awards this year (organised by Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg for beer lovers to nominate their favourite beers, pubs, etc) – I’ve tried so many great beers in 2012 and went to so many great pubs and it was difficult to remember what they all were. However, it would be a shame not to sing the praises of some of the best, so after some time and effort (mainly going through my old tweets and my blog) I just about managed to narrow it down to a final few – here they are:

1. Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer –  Ole Slewfoot Citraville APA. Juicy, refreshing, zesty – summer in a bottle.
Honourable mention: Buntingford Imperial Chocolate Wheat. Incredible rich, full-bodied beer

2. Best UK Bottled or Canned BeerOakham Green Devil.  Resinous tropical fruit hops.
Honourable mention: Buxton Wild Boar IPA. Tropical fruit aroma and flavour and incredibly hoppy

3. Best Overseas Draught Beer De Molen Vuur & Vlam.  Wow. Light, refreshing, loaded with US hops.
Honourable mention: Rogue Chocolate Stout. Amazing choc flavours, liquid loveliness.

Vuur & Vlam

De Molen Vuur & Vlam

4. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer St Bernadus Pater (6).
Honourable mentions: Deschutes Black Butte Porter (Oregon) and Brewfist Caterpillar Pale Ale (Italy)

5. Best Overall Beer St Bernadus Pater (6). Wonderful, delicate beer that I could sip on for hours on end.

6. Best Pumpclip or LabelOakham Citra. Just look at that cute little green hop man.Citra
7. Best UK Brewery Buntingford, Herts.  Never fail to deliver the goods, fantastic brewery with a wide range of great beers.
Honourable mention: Oakham, Cambridgeshire. Again, wonderful brewery that makes consistently good beer.

8. Best Overseas BreweryDeschutes, Oregon. Fantastic brewery, they know how to make great quality beer

9. Pub/Bar of the Year In de Wildeman, Amsterdam.  Great pub discovered this year, welcoming, friendly, wide range of ever-changing beers.
Honourable mentions: The Elm Tree, Cambridge (cosy dimly-lit pub full of atmosphere and good beers including lots of Belgian beers), and the Free Press, Cambridge (traditional old back street pub with a snug and well-kept beer served in oversized glasses).

Interior of in De Wildeman

In De Wildeman, Amsterdam

10. Beer Festival of the YearCambridge Beer Festival. Beer on the grass in the sun. Wonderful fest.

11. Supermarket of the Year Waitrose.

12. Independent Retailer of the Year Bacchanalia, Cambridge. Wide range of beers from around the world.

13. Online Retailer of the Year – N/A

14. Beer Book or MagazineALE, Cambridge’s CAMRA mag

15. Best Beer Blog or Website Pints and Pubs blog – Pub history, quirky anecdotes about innkeepers and locals, and interesting beer and pub reviews

16. Best Beer Twitterer @pintsandpubs

17. Best Online Brewery presence Grain Brewery

18. Food and Beer Pairing of the Year Thai veggie curry with Rogue Juniper Pale Ale (at the Cambridge Blue)

19. In 2013 I’d Most Like ToGo back to the US to drink more American craft beers (pretty much the same as 2011’s entry, but I didn’t manage to get back this year)

20. Open Category: Best UK beer city – Norwich. Full of great free houses promoting local Norfolk ales, and lots of fantastic microbreweries.

Published in: on December 19, 2012 at 9:43 am  Comments (1)  
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