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GOLDEN PINTS 2017











There’s a strong possibility that they’ll be a review of the year in January when all these festivities are out of the way, so let’s just delve into a rather discursive Golden Pints for 2017.

Also I’m aware that there’s a North-West bias to a fair few of these answers, but this is more indicative of where 95% of my drinking occurs rather than some forced local loyalty.

Best UK Cask Beer: Fyne Ales – Jarl


The pub goes quiet. The needle screeches across the vinyl as the music stops. All eyes are fixed on this unexpected decision.
It’s true that my love for a certain Pale Ale on cask made this decision assumedly predictable. Yet the once undulating Jarl has been on staggeringly good form this past 12 months. It wins because, whilst my experiences of Track Brew Co’s Sonoma have been confined to pubs within a 10 mile radius of the brewery, I’ve had Jarl across the UK in 2017 so gained a larger scope for it. The form this year has led to me having numerous Jarls when in areas where we were only stopping for a pint. “Sorry, I’m going to have to have another Jarl – it’s too good.” Every damn time.
Honourable mentions: Track Brew Co - Sonoma, The Five Points Brewing Co - Railway Porter, Legitimate Industries – Double Agent Stout, Three Chimneys - Good King Henry

Best UK Keg Beer: Beavertown Brewery/3 Floyd's – Tempus Project Heavy Lord


It takes something special to stop me in my tracks at the grand social festival that Indy Man Beer Con has become. It takes something extra special to make me remember every sip through the haze of the afternoon. It takes something exceptional for me to give it this award when I’ve only tasted a single one-third measure of a beer. This beer covered all that. 
Honourable Mentions: Cloudwater Brew Co - Chubbles, Torrside Brewing - BA Rauchwine, Elusive Brewing - Love Action 12”, Marble Brewery – Count de Villefort

Best UK Bottled Beer: Torrside Brewing - Rauchwine


This didn’t win Bottle of the Year last year but I cited that it could be improved upon in 2017. I was right. This year’s version was chortingly good; just smile and shake your head at its silliness. How do you exist? The easiest award to give on this list.
Honourable Mentions: Torrside Brewing - American Barleywine, Torrside Brewing - White Barleywine, Torrside Brewing - Sorachia, Marble Brewery - Portent of Usher


Best UK Canned Beer: Magic Rock Brew Co/Other Half – Half Cut


The sheer number of tallboy big IPAs I had this year meant that even some reasonably decent ones have faded to memory. Not Half-Cut though. My brother and I shared a can of this in Beer & Burger in London. We both tasted it, smiled at the glass, smiled at the can, smiled at each other and then savoured every sip. I proceeded to buy any can of it that I saw, including the last in the local much to the grievance of one of the staff.
Honourable Mentions: Cloudwater Brew Co - Birthday DIPA, Cloudwater Brew Co - Petillant Naturel Houblonée, Northern Monk Brew Co - Double Heathen

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Brouwerij Kees -  Lvstro.


The rise in the amount of brilliant UK beer alongside the sheer amount of new beers to try means that my overseas tasting was fairly limited to mostly beer festivals or events. It was the classics mentioned in the Honourable Mentions that mostly stood out, but Lvstro – an Imperial Smoked Coffee Porter - on keg at The Grove was something to savour.
Honourble Mentions: Saison Dupont, XX Bitter, Brouwerij Kees – Caramel Fudge Stout

Best Overseas Brewery: Brouwerij Kees


Of course I naturally give it every year to Brauerei Heller but I felt that much of Kees output has been outstanding and varied enough to deserve special mention this year.

Best Overall Beer: Torrside Brewing – Rauchwine


Perhaps it’s rather niche style might not make this the most approachable beer for the so-juicy-you-may-as-well-have-been-irrumated-by-a-satsuma fanboys, but I will struggle for many years to find a beer as perfectly suited to my own tastes.

Best Branding: Northern Monk Brew Co


Already solid and identifiable on the shelf with their core range, the artistry and originality (to this industry) behind the Patrons Project series is just magical.
Honourable Mention: Perhaps my favourite core range Branding would be the Magic Rock cans and the, ironically Same but Different approach to the Tallboys is a thing of beauty.


Pub/Bar of the Year: The Grove, Huddersfield


Inexplicably it isn’t a destination for the huge influx of Beer Tourists coming into Huddersfield in the past two years. It is, however, my favourite place to drink in the land. Exceptional range of beer, excellent prices (if that’s your bag) and wonderful staff past and present.
Honourable Mentions: Harvey Leonard’s Ale & Wine Bar, Salt Horse, Mason & Co, Cafe Beermoth.

Best Brewery Tap: Beer Nouveau


Manchester is nearly as famous as Bemondsey for its number of railway archway brewery taps.The one that I prefer to spend my time is the cosiest, most pub-like one of the bunch. Less school chairs, more sofas please. 


Best Brewery Taphouse: Buxton Taphouse



As I insist on distinguishing betweeen a Brewery Tap and a Taphouse, I've included this extra category. There are some excellent ones in these parts, but Buxton's has the edge by having the delightful feel of  apub that's been there years against an incredible beer range. 


Best New Brewery 2017...



Seriously, I’ve had so many breweries that are new-to-me this year I don’t know what was opened this year, last year or even four years ago. All I know is that none have made me sit up and take serious interest. There’s been some good beers out there but nothing that warrants this individual award.

Best Brewery 2017: Torrside Brewing


Since January there has been a two horse race for my Brewery of the Year, each overtaking the other at one point or another. Each brews an exceptional range of styles and just about always nails it. Not many breweries can claim the repertoire of beers that Torrside Brewing has, that even includes a couple of MILDS alongside Bitters, Pales Ales, Schwarzbier, Rauchbier, Barleywine, IPAs, DIPAs, TIPAs, Stouts, Porters etc. They lacked a solid drinkable cask Pale for a while but now both Yellow Peak and Route 366 are two of my favourite pint-drinking beers in the country. Arguably, the one style they hadn’t perfected was the flavour-of-the-month Double/Triple IPA, but I now refer you to Double Spartacus.
All this without the Monster’s series, that are always good, usually exceptional. This is the series that puts them top of the tree for me. The technical ability – alongside the experimental use of smoke flavours (something that the UK brewing scene has really lacked) -  astounds me more than any other British brewery.

It almost pains me to not be able to give it to Marble Brewery who have had a superb 2017. I struggle to think of better examples of their styles than Damage Plan, Black Sunshine or Your Betrayl. They too can boast quite the range of styles in just these past 12 months; who else is brewing Maibocks and Adambiers here? Add the Old Ale series and Barley Wine at the end of the year and they really have been (almost) peerless. My smoked beer obsession is what tips them into second.

Beer Festival of the Year: Peakender 2017


Perhaps this wasn’t strictly a beer festival but it was the first time I’d visited and I had such a terrific time. There was definitely enough different beers over the two days I was there for this to qualify as a festival of beer as much as anything.
Honourable Mentions: Indy Man Beer Con, Leeds International Festival, Independent Salford Beer Festival

 

Best Street Food Vendor: Holy Crab UK

I considered making this a category then reconsidered. Eventually though I’ve chosen to include it because it does matter to me. When out in Manchester or Huddersfield, with some pubs and brewtaps using Street Food Vendors, I do check to see who is on and where. For example, I often go the Grove in Huddersfield on matchdays. But I do check who the weekend vendor is at Magic Rock Tap and if it is the marvellous Holy Crab then I’m off straightaway for a Crab Balls fix. 
Similarly, I have been known to choose which of Manchester’s many Brewery Taps I visit if one of them is offering the always gorgeous Nasi Lemak (Honorouable Mention.)

Best Food and Beer Destination: Grub / Mayfield MCR / Fairfield Social Club.


Okay, I’m just adding this category to give an award for the great work done by the whole Grub team, but they deserve a mention. The spaces they’ve used and created at both Mayfield Station and now the Fairfield Social Club are incredible and their dedication to great food and great beer companies is second to none. 


Best Beer Podcast: Hopinions




“Let’s crack open a beer and share some thoughts.” The only one I mke sure I listen to. You know what also makes it easy? A DOWNLOAD BUTTON. I do come across Podcasts frequently that I have a hard time listening to. “Oh just download such and such an app and install su...” Nope. Hopinions have proven this isn’t necessary.
Aside from this I do enjoy the relaxed content and audience participation here, otherwise I wouldn't bother. 
 

Best Beer Blog 2017

I enjoy a lot of beer blogs still and read as many as I can. It’s been another transition year as some of my old favourites have been retired or the writer’s are now working in the industry instead. Still, there are plenty out theree and I’ve decided to list just a sample of my favourites from the past year. (I could easily have made this list three times as long.) 

http://www.mostlyaboutbeer.co.uk/
I’ve not been alone this year in stating that I don’t understand why Alec doesn’t have 5000 followers and isn’t one of the most popular writers in the country. Every post is so evocative and draws you in. I’d say Alec is probably the best wordsmith amongst beer bloggers.

http://www.brewgeekery.com/
Pete is perfect for blogging. Concise yet descriptive. Opionated without being ranty. Informative without being over-bearing. He writes in 500 words what takes me 3000 to say. It’s a talent.

https://boakandbailey.com/
The Godparents of blogging still have me reading about [1920’s pubs in Hemel Hempstead] and somehow have me interested. Little snippets of informative blogs punctuated by calming reason when bickering breaks out. And the only tasting note posts I generally read.


http://www.boozebeatsbites.co.uk/
The blogging style I enjoy most is no-nonsense, honest opinion and derisory when it is necessary; not “everything in beer is great.” Nate encompasses this. I especially enjoy the “Pubs of Norwich” posts because I like to see beer bloggers actually use any pubs; not just shiny new “craft” places

https://yesaleblog.co.uk/
A quiet year for Dave which is a shame because when it’s good, it’s good. Especially when the rants come out.

https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/
Jim hasn’t been all about this beer yet but that hasn’t been a bad thing. I’ve been in tears a few times but writing is important. Jim also possesses his own unique style of writing more so than anybody else.

https://drinkinggotmethinking.wordpress.com/
Myles can join Alec as one of the more underrated bloggers. His posts are infrequent but show a natural flair and solid opinion when they arrive.



That completes another  year of excellent beer. We’ll look forward to 2018 in a post after Christmas. In the mean time, have a great Christmas
 



Comments

Sat In A Pub said…
Good call on Jarl and nice to see recognition for the fantastic Grove.

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