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.

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Four score and seven beers ago

Lincoln

“Four score and seven beers ago, I, Richard Gardner , Beer for the Year, set forth on a most excellent adventure. Conceived by my friend and colleague, Simon Peel, this great gentleman was dedicated to give me the proposition, which was true today as it was true two months ago, to drink 365 excellent beers in 365 days…..be excellent to each other…..and…..party on dudes!”

Ok, not quite Abraham Lincoln, and more like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (I do love that film), I have had the idea for the title of this post in my mind for sometime now, almost since the start of the year. Most people would probably do a review after a milestone such as 100 beers (most people would not be doing a 365 beer challenge) but I thought it would be a good time, at 87 beers (it just so happens to coincide with the two month mark), to look back over the last two months and produce some more beer related statistics.

Beer No 87 came in the middle of a beer festival (no 2 of the year), that I went to with Conchi, Carol and Andy (Carol and Andy are our fairly regular drinking partners), celebrating St David’s day at The Royal Blenheim. The theme, as you may have guessed, was Welsh beers. There was an excellent choice of 21 ales from 9 welsh breweries. I managed to try 5 different ones, steering clear of the pints this time and opting for half pints. My two favourites were Red Dragon and Honey Porter. Red Dragon by Great Orme Brewery was a copper coloured, fruity,zesty ale. It had an unusual taste in that it was a little sweet at the start but had a hoppy, bitter finish.  Honey Porter by Conwy Brewery was a dark brown porter with a dark roasted malt taste. It didn’t taste sweet at all, despite the honey, and had a nice smooth texture and with a slight bitterness to finish. Apparently the beer festival is going to be a annual affair, so I look forward to trying some more Welsh beers next year. Although I am sure there will be a few more Welsh beers drunk this year.

Meantime-LPA   Caesar Augustus    WP_001389

Here are the stats for the last two months, January and February (and March 1st):

Number of new beers tasted: 61/87                     70%

Number of beers tasted before: 26/87                30%

Most number of different beers in one night:     6

Number of lagers: 11.5/87                                     13%

Challenge progress: 87/365                                  24%

My favourite new beers in February were Caesar Augustus by Williams Bros Brewery, a lager/IPA hybrid that was surprisingly good, refreshing and hoppy, and London Pale Ale by Meantime Brewery, a pale ale full of hoppy, fruity, citrus flavours and bitterness. I also had the good fortune to try a new beer by my local brewery, Gunners Gold by Loose Cannon. This ale had a nice golden, yellow colour, not too bitter, with hints of peach and a very smooth taste. I may be a little biased because they are a local brewery but they always make a great beer.

So, as I finish writing this review, the first two months are over and done with and we are now slightly into the third month. I have drunk 92 different beers with only 65 days gone, almost a month ahead of the challenge, if you look at it that way.  However, I have only drunk 2 out of the 51 beers I have in the house, the lure of the pub having overridden drinking beers at home. In fact I have been beer free for the last three days! I am very close to Beer No 100 and have the beer ready that I would like to drink as No 100. This will be the subject of one of the next posts.

Possibly a premature Top 5 Beer list

I didn’t really expect to produce a top 5 beer list so early on in the challenge. In fact, I had no intention to make this list for some time. I was going to wait until a bit further down the line until I had say, 100 beers-150 beers under my belt. But an opportunity arose for me to have my Top 5 beers posted on a website. I replied to a Tweet to have it put on the Cask Marque website. How exciting?! For me, very! (you can check it out by following the link) I don’t think that I have ever done a top 5 beer list before, mainly because I don’t have a very good memory and tend to forget most of the beers that I have drunk. A few have stuck in my memory, like the local beers that I have tasted on frequent occasions, but not enough have stuck in my head to make an informed top 5 beer list, until now. I thought that now I have tried 60 different beers this year, I could have a stab at a list. So here is my top 5 at the moment, in no particular order.

Top-5-Beers-2

1. Abingdon Bridge from Loose Cannon Brewery

2. Triple chocoholic from Saltaire Brewery

3. Harvest Pale from Castle Rock

4. Conqueror from Windsor and Eton Brewery

5. Caesar Augustus from Williams Bros Brewery

I think there is quite a variety here. A dark brown ale from Loose Cannon, a smooth, chocolatey stout from Saltaire, a blond, pale ale from Castle Rock, a hoppy, black IPA from Windsor and Eton and a peachy, hoppy lager/IPA hybrid from Williams Bros. I mentioned before that this is my top 5 beer list ‘at the moment’ because who knows what amazing beer or two or three or more could be waiting for me around the corner. Maybe in two or three months time I will have a few new beers in the top 5, or maybe a completely new top 5.  There is still a long way to go with the challenge (304 more beers) and anything could happen.

First post: Challenge already underway

Having decided to start this beer challenge part way through January, this first post has had to happen half way into January. I think I have got off to a fairly good start, which prompted the idea that I might be able to do this in the first place. I am already up to 20 beers with 17 days passed (I should be on 21 later this evening), so slightly ahead of the game at this stage. The photo shows only 11 of the beers that I have tried.  The other beers have been mostly on tap from bars and pubs in both Spain and England.

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My favourite two beers so far have been Loose Cannon Brewery’s Abingdon Bridge and Young’s Winter Warmer. Although I do like San Miguel 1516, it is so much smoother than its brother, San Miguel. Unfortunately it is only available in Spain.

We did have a couple of interesting beers at the Brewery Tap Pub quiz on Tuesday night, Spectrum by the Salopian Brewery and Rock Bitter by The Nottingham Brewery. Spectrum was an amber beer with large creamy head and an excellent pump clip. Quite often, as I am sure with most of you, I am persuaded to try a beer by the cool image or graphic on the pump clip. Rock Bitter was a very light golden colour with a fresh, hoppy taste. I preferred the Spectrum as did my drinking companions, Simon and Chris. The beers were definitely more interesting than the outcome of the quiz. Second from last was where we came with our ace team of quizzers, Conchi, Simon Peel, Rob Emery, Harriet VRH, Chris, getting 30 out of 53. Oops!

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