Time for a round up of the best of this year’s drinking with Golden Pints Awards
Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer: Greene King Old 5X
Okay, so it’s not generally available, and it’s not even something I would drink often, but at this year’s Bury St Edmunds Beer Fest and GBBF it was so unexpectedly good I’ve since found myself defending Greene King as a brewery (as a ransacking pub retailer the initials GK stand for Genghis Khan)
Runners up: Redemption Trinity for packing so much punch for 3% abv, Milton Abeona
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Buxton Axe Edge
The taste of this summer for me, an absolutely superb beer
Best Overseas Draught Beer: Ayinger Celebrator at In de Wildeman, Amsterdam
The best overseas draught beer I had this year, served in one of the best pubs I’ve visited, a perfect match
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: Cervesa Marina Mas Cremat
The surprise beer of the year for me, a wonderful rich stout from Catalunya. I’ve yet to try their Grim North black IPA, Devil’s IPA Indian red ale or Black Cat RyePA dark rye ale but how good do they sound!
Runners up: Maine Beer Company Peeper Ale, St. Bernardus Pater 6
Best Overall Beer: Buxton Axe Edge
Actually getting exited each time a new Buxton appeared on the shelves at Bacchanalia or I came across them on draught – that’s what it’s all about. Axe Edge was the best of the best.
Best Pumpclip or Label: Oakham Green Devil IPA
Oakham have some great pump clips – this year’s Oakademy of Excellence range in particular – but this develish depiction of a hop wins it for me
Best UK Brewery: Moor
Some of the most enjoyable beers I’ve tried this year (Revival, Hoppiness, Empire Strikes Back, Smokey Horyzon) and this is before I’ve even opened the Fusion or Freddy Walker on Christmas day.
Runners up: Oakham, probably the brewery I’ve drank most beers from this year; fridge always well stocked with Inferno and Green Devil this summer, and in many local pubs any beer on from Oakham is likely to be one of the better beers. Buxton for consistently fabulous beers.
Best Overseas Brewery: Deschutes.
First tried their beers when staying in Portland and loved them. Now I have to wait for GBBF each year to get my hands on them again. I was warned about long distance relationships like this.
Pub/Bar of the Year: Lórien, Palma de Mallorca
For being the surprise pub of the year, a dimly lit, dark wood bar hidden away down a narrow street in Palma with over 100 bottled beers including many from Catalunya I’ve not encountered since.
Beer Festival of the Year: Green Man, Grantchester.
Great beer list for a village pub, good atmosphere, live music and reached by a stroll across Grantchester Meadows. In 2013 they’ll be holding five more of these beer fests.
Runners up: Cambridge, Peterborough, Letchworth – had great beer and great times at these local CAMRA festivals and feel lucky to live so close to them all.
Supermarket of the Year: Waitrose
A nearby store always has Fullers London Porter and Thornbridge Jaipur so I’m never far from good beer.
Independent Retailer of the Year: Bacchanalia, Cambridge.
Runners up: Beers of Europe, near Kings Lynn. Beautiful Beers, Bury St Edmunds.
Online Retailer of the Year: Beers of Europe
Really did do the promised ‘next day’ delivery (although I prefer to visit them and get lost amongst the aisles of beer)
Best Beer Book or Magazine: Any local CAMRA magazine.
London Drinker deserves special mention for the effort it must take to compile.
Best Beer Blog or Website: Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog – easily the blog I read most often
Honorable Mention: Pubs of Manchester featured the single most moving piece on pubs and drinking I’ve ever read.
“That’s what was great about those pubs at that time. They were democratic. By putting in the hours you could get yourself known and accepted.”
I’ve known people who put the hours in, and I know one or two who still do. This piece of writing, The Pub Shaman of Prestwich, will stay with me for a long time.
Best Beer Twitterer: @broadfordbrewer
For beery tweets interspersed with the kind of jokes usually found in crackers. A case in point: “I want to live somewhere where kids can run free. Perhaps in a goated community”
Best Online Brewery presence: eh?
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Chips with beer
In 2013 I’d Most Like To… Do it all over again.
Open category: Honorable mentions:
Reviewing the above, it seems a bit arbitrary that some of my favourite pubs and beers don’t get mentioned. During the year, countless beers were tasted, held up to the light and declared to be wonderful, but only a few are mentioned here. I enjoyed more good times in local pubs this year than in a single bar we visited just a few times during a holiday in Palma, yet I named that my ‘Pub/Bar of the Year’ – novelty playing its part? So, here’s an honorable mention to all the pints, pubs and people that made this year such an enjoyable one.
Cheers! Here’s to a beery 2013…