Beer For The Year Golden Pints 2013

As a follower of everything beery on Twitter, I saw a post from Mark Dredge at the beginning of December entitled Golden Pints 2013. I did not think much of it at the time as I thought the task would be too great to be able to think of a suitable choice for each category out of the plethora of breweries and beers that are available. Really, there is an amazing choice. Gradually over the last three weeks I have seen many fellow bloggers posting their Golden Pints choices and that got me to thinking, I really should be able to do this too, however monumental the task maybe. Luckily (or ‘OCD’ily, however you want to look at it), I have a list of all the beers I have drunk over the last year with ratings, so the task should be easier. So here goes for my choices for Golden pints 2013…………

Best UK Cask Beer – Finding it hard already. If I could remember what I had on cask and what I had on keg, it would be a lot easier. I am going to mention three beers that I found really good at beer festivals and a local one. I can’t guarantee that the festival beers are 100 % cask but I know the local one is. BF – Coffee in the Morning by Tap East, a great cold coffee beer. Citradelic by Melwood Beer Co, great pale ale with, you guessed it, citra hops, massive grapefruit and lychee. Citra/centennial by Quantum, a thick, juicy and fruity pale ale that was very drinkable, despite the 8% abv. My local brewery, Loose cannon, is producing some great beers currently, nothing too adventurous but a well flavoured core range of beers. The stand out beer from them at the moment is the Gunner’s Gold. A well hopped, fruity golden ale that is very drinkable. Gunners Gold Pump Clip

Best UK Keg Beer – Would have to be Soundwave by Siren Craft. A brilliant IPA that is full of tropical fruits and hops. I love just about everything that they produce.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer – Going to have to choose two for this category. The first time I had both of these, it was wow. Mariana Trench by Weird Beard with it’s amazing grapefruit and tropical fruitedness. It must be the citra, I am addicted to it. Bloody ‘Ell Orange IPA by Beavertown is also very good. Just waiting for the guys to purchase some more blood oranges so that I can get hold of more.

Best Overseas Draught Beer – Not had so many of these. But on a trip to Copenhagen, I had Sort Gul by Mikeller at the Mikeller bar. A great example of a balanced black IPA.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer – I do love a good can and Phoenix Pale Ale by Sly Fox comes in a good can and tastes very good too.

Best Collaboration Brew – You are going to start seeing a theme here. Näcken by Siren Craft and Omnipollo. An amazing hoppy hefeweizen, as they call it, and it really is. A combination of tropical fruits from the IPA side and the yeasty, wheaty undertones from the wheat side.

WP_001479 Best Overall Beer – I have not gone back to many beers over the last year, mainly due to the challenge that has been happening (365 beers in a year in case you did not know), but there is one that I have tried, and gone back to, a few times, Liquid Mistress by Siren Craft. An amazing hop hit along with the a great red biscuit malt.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label – Magic Rock. The branding is so colourful and I like the theme that they have running through all their beer names. The pump clips jump out at you when you see them at the bar, screaming ‘come try me, we are fun and tasty’.

Magic Rock Pump ClipsBest UK Brewery – There are plenty of great breweries currently on the scene that are producing a massive output of brilliant beer. If you were to twist my arm though and say pick one, I would have to say Siren Craft Brew. I can’t believe they have only been going for less then a year and producing the amazing beers that they do. As mentioned above, I love just about everything that comes out of their tanks. I will, however, also give an honourable mention to my local Brewery again, Loose Cannon. They produce some great beers.

Best Overseas Brewery – I am going to pass on this one. I have had a few overseas beers this year but not enough from one single brewery to make an informed choice. Unless of course Scotland is overseas and I could choose Black Isle Brewery or Brewdog.

Best New Brewery Opening 2013 – It’s getting boring now (the repetition not the Golden Ponts categories), I am going to have to go with Siren Craft Brew. For the above reasons.

Pub/Bar of the Year – I go to quite a few pubs, as you can imagine, and whilst many of them have a good choice, the choice is never massive. That is until I went to the Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell. It looks like a normal pub with wood paneling and mirrors on the ceiling (?) but when I saw the 30+ cask hand pulls and keg dispensers, I thought I had gone to heaven. Subsequently, I have been to a few other places with as much choice but this pub holds a special place in my heart for introducing me to so much tap choice.

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013 –  This is going to sound a weird choice but The Narrows in Abingdon. I know, a Wetherspoons pub. But it has brought more choice to Abingdon and you can guarantee at least 9 beers on tap including local and farther afield beers.

Liverpool Craft Beer Expo Poster Beer Festival of the Year – Tough to choose. Indy Man Beer Con or Liverpool Craft Beer Festival? Both craft. Both very good. Both great venues. Both great beer choices. Both you could get served at the bar very easily. Both very cool. Nope, I can’t choose. One of those! Indy Man Beer Con Poster

Supermarket of the Year – Waitrose. Their selection seems to be slightly less mainstream than the Tescos near me.

Independent Retailer of the Year – Cotteridge Wines. Very friendly guys who know their beer. One of the first places I visited to start off my beer obsession. They will even save beers for you in a box in their back room if you send them a tweet. The go to guys for everything Siren Craft.

Drink-Better-BeerOnline Retailer of the YearBeerbods. Great customer service. A gift to yourself that keeps giving and giving, 12 bottles every 12 weeks to be precise, of really good beer. And you get to interact with others drinking the same beer every Thursday night. Thursday night is Beerbods night!

Best Beer Book or Magazine – The Complete Beer Course by Joshua M. Bernstein. A beautiful book with lots of information on how to taste beer. Also Beer, the magazine that comes with the CAMRA paper. I always look forward to reading this every 3 months. Always interesting.

Best Beer Blog or Website – Simon from CAMRGB. Short, no nonsense beer reviews that get to the point. I am not sure how he does it but every review is different.

Best Beer App – Untappd. One of the best ways to follow how much you have drunk over the year. And you get badges to celebrate how much you have drunk. What more could you want?

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitter – broadfordbrewer (@broadfordbrewer). Some very droll tweets and jokes that make me laugh.

Best Brewery Website/Social media – Twitter. I signed up to Twitter when I joined Beerbods at the beginning of the year. I have found some great people to converse with on-line and have met some of them in person. Twitter has been a great way to find like minded beer geeks to drink with.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year – I have to admit, when it comes to beer and food pairing, I have absolutely zero knowledge of what goes really well together.

There you have it, my Golden Pints for 2013. Looking forward to starting my new list of beers in the New Year in readiness for Golden Pints 2014.

The first of many Beer Tasting Evenings?

It appears that everyone is at it these days, Beer Tasting Evenings. Well I say everyone, what I mean is that a fellow beer drinking friend and CAMRGB member from Twitter had a beer tasting evening recently and asked the question: It’s Better Down the Pub. Really? I am not going to tackle the same subject but suffice to say there is an amazing array of different beers available to drink at home these days, as most of you are very probably aware, and what better way to try some, all in one go, than to get a load of friends around and get a load of beers in.

Beer Tasting Things

So I thought that I would give a beer tasting evening a go. I did a doodle poll (did I mention I like Doodle polls?) about 2 months ago to find a suitable date for everyone to come try and a variety of different beers for my first (and hopefully not last) beer tasting evening. Although everyone accepted, I have to say that in the end one of them drove, one of them was not drinking and one didn’t like beer! But the other 6 were good to go, plus the driver could drink about 40 mL of each beer (we did the calculations)! I acquired the beers from a number of different sources including a brewery visit, online, a supermarket and someone’s shed! I also got in some fruit beers to try and tempt the non-beer, cider drinker. The total was 16 different beers (including the 3 fruit beers), 29 bottles. This meant that everyone would roughly drink about 3 pints worth of beer. The idea being to give everyone a taste of each beer, not get them drunk enough that after the first few they had no idea what they were drinking.

Beer Tasting Evening 2013

Brewery Name Style ABV %
Man in A Shed Brewery Hoochie Mama #1 Lager Not Sure
XT Brewery XT3 IPA 3.7
Weird Beard Brewery Black Perle Stout 3.8
XT Brewery XT4 Amber Ale 5.0
XT Brewery Roast Cacao Stout 4.5
XT Brewery XT6 Ruby Ale 5.3
Weird Beard Brewery Mariana Trench Pale Ale 5.3
Fyne Ales Sanda Blonde IPA 5.5
Jacobsen Brown Ale Brown Ale 6.0
Fyne Ales Sanda Black Black IPA 5.5
Meantine Brewery London Porter Porter 6.5
Weird Beard Brewery Chinook Brown Beer 7.2
Fyne Ales Zombier Porter 6.9

So with the beer list decided, moving from low ABV beers to higher ABV beers as suggested by a few beer tasting sites, the night was ready. To go with the beers I had prepared some crisps and pretzel snacks and some hotdogs. Sausages always go well with beer. People started arriving in readiness for the tasting to start at 7:30 pm. Beer Tasting NotesAs they arrived, everyone got a glass with their name on it, some tasting notes for each beer and a score sheet (how organised am I?, well that’s the polite way of saying it). We weren’t going to make tasting notes ourselves but I wanted people to mark each beer out of 7 to see if there was an overall favourite for the evening. ‘Would you like a drink?’ I ask as the responsible host, ‘some beer?’ came the overwhelming answer. Which I suppose is what they came for but I wanted to wait until everyone was here to start with the beers!

So with the last person turning up just on time for the start, it was time to get the show on the road. Just as well he turned up on time because, not only were the beer tasters demanding the first beer, the first beer up was his home brewed concoction, Hoochie Mama #1. Being the first drink of the night there was nothing to compare it to, but for a Home Brew Lager it was not bad. It poured very clear and had a malty, lagery taste. It was not people’s least favorite of the night. We started moving slowly through the beers, well a new beer about every 15 minutes to be more exact. I knew that people would want to leave around 11 pm and we had 13 beers to get through! Some were a little slower drinking than others but with a little coaxing (and harassing, well much harassing) they soon got the message. The beers were smelled, sipped, savoured and drunk with reference to their aroma, flavour and taste using as much beery language that could be thrown around the room as possible (amongst other more colourful language to describe the beers, in a good way). Starting with the low ABV beers (Black Perle Stout by Weird Beard is really only 3.8 %? Wow), we made our way through the list of beers from the beginning and before we knew it we had reached the high ABV beers at the end.

The Beer Tasters

So, onto the top 4 beers of the night, here they are: in first place, Roast Cacao by XT Brewery, in second place, Zombier by Fyne Ales, in third place, Chinook by Weird Beard and in fourth place, Sanda Blonde by Fyne Ales. It appears that the favourites seem to be the darker beers amongst my friends. Although I am glad to see Chinook up in the top three as this was one of my favourites.

Unfortunately none of the beers counted towards Beer for the Year but luckily I have stashed away an extra bottle of each of the beers that I really wanted to try, the Weird Beard and Fyne Ales beers. My top beer of the night was Mariana Trench by Weird Beard. So full of hops and tropical fruit goodness. Amazing. I am really looking forward to having a bottle of this all to myself.

Overall I would say the evening was a resounding success (feel free participants to say otherwise, be kind). All the beers were drunk and everyone enthusiastically filled in the scoring sheets. I think I provided a good selection of beers for all to try from pale ales to hoppy pale ales to IPAs to brown ales to porters and stouts. Something for everyone, favourite styles were drunk and new styles and beers were tried. I think, no, I know, that we will be having another beer tasting evening again. One bonus, the non-beer drinking friend now likes beers, albeit fruity beers, but then you have to start somewhere.