Here’s my contribution to this year’s Golden Pints. I’ve probably forgotten half of the things I would really have wanted to put in here. I’m seeing that as more of a sign that beer this year has been incredible.
Best UK Cask Beer
Probably a candidate for most improved Brewery too, Fallen Brewing’s Platform C is consistently stellar on cask and is easily the cask beer that I’ve drank most of in 2015. Special mention goes to the one off cask of Six Degrees North’s Chopper Stout that we had for their bar takeover at The Bat. Another special mention goes to the guys at Pilot down in Leith, their beers are always tremendous on cask. Another special mention to Weird Beard’s Dark Hopfler, an almost perfect cask beer.
Best UK Keg Beer
God damn. So many choices. The Magic Rock Bearded Lady Dessert Ed. at IMBC was incredible, as was the Yellow Belly Sundae. Buxton Far Skyline is a huge contender as I ordered one every time I saw it. I think in the end though I have to settle for Wild Beer Co Summer Blend 2015, so very, very, very special. Oh shit, wait. Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour. I drank a reasonable percentage of a keg of each so that one is a draw.
Best UK Bottled Beer
Mad Hatter have had an incredible year, and I have bought at least one of everything of theirs that I have seen, which as you can imagine is an absolute tonne. In terms of straight up best bottled beer produced in the UK, it’d be Burning Sky Cuvée. Although is that technically cheating? Bugger it, it was unreal.
Best UK Canned Beer
The entire range from Moor are superb, but the Return of the Empire stole the show. Bitter Burnt orange, just sublime.
Best Overseas Draught
I was fortunate enough to get over to the Copenhagen Beer Celebration in 2015 so I’m sure I probably drank my candidate there. In terms of ones I can remember that brought me great times, Boon 2 year old Lambic, Lagunitas Sucks. Overall though it would have to be the frankly ridiculous xeRRex by the Yeastie Boys.
Best Overseas Bottled Beer
Mikkeller/Lindemans Spontanbasil. I personally bought, drank, and shared an entire case and then some. Boulevard’s Tank 7 Saison deserves a shout too on similar grounds. Yeastie Boys xeRRex a close runner up.
Best Overseas Canned Beer
Haven’t really got into much of this. Was fortunate enough to receive a handful of cans from Uinta brewing, their DIPA was popping and delicious. The winner would have to be Westbrook Gose though. Mad refreshing, and completely infuriating that it is impossible to drink more than one. Special mention to the Anderson Valley Highway 128 Blood Orange Gose.
Best collaboration brew
Think I may have to bin modesty here and say that the Pilot/Hanging Bat Vanilla Shortbread was a massive success. However the winner for me was our Cola Sour made in collaboration with Northern Alchemy. This was the first time I had ever written a recipe (or part of one) for commercial release. It was such a massive thrill to watch it polarise opinion. Also we got to go hang our with Andy and Carl which made it even more special.
Best Overall Beer
Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour was such a joy to behold. A beer that brought such a massive smile to my face every time I came anywhere near it.
The new Magic Rock cans take home this gong. Rich Norgate has done an absolutely killer job.
Best Pump Clip
What’s a pump clip?
Best Bottle Label
Pretty tough one this. I may just got for a nerdy route and say that the Mikkeller/Lindemans bottle pleased me immensely, beautiful to look at, and the fact that they did a 2 colour screen print, purely for the whites of the character’s eyes.
Best UK Brewery
Wild Beer Co. continue to excite me with every concept they announce, and each one always delivers whether it is a wild or ‘clean’ beer. Mad Hatter are a strong contender for the runner up slot.
Best Overseas Brewery
2015 has been the year that Lambic really took its hold on me. From that point of view it really has to be Cantillon. However I would like to be wide and mention that Hanssen’s are my favourite blendery.
Best New Brewery Opening 2015
I’m going to punt for Chorlton on this one (and hope they opened in 2015). My first experience of their beers was a bottle of Dark Matter in Friends of Ham, shared with friends, while eating ham. Everything was perfect.
Pub/Bar of the Year
In UK terms I was completely enraptured by Friends of Ham. The attention to detail and standards of service are completely incredible. Scotland wise, it can only be Six Degrees North. Opening up wider to Europe, the best bar I have been to this year (and this week) is In De Wildeman in Amsterdam. Special mention for the Grey Stones in Sheffield.
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2015
Don’t know if it counts but the Magic Rock tap room is really tremendous. The rotating food truck concept is great and the place has a great vibe. I haven’t been yet but it seems that Wild Beer Co. are doing some amazing things at Jessop House. Top of the list of places to visit next year.
Beer Festival of the Year
IMBC. Absolutely hands down. Stellar venue and a consistently incredible lineup. Copenhagen Beer Celebration was exceptional too, a complete whirlwind of ridiculous beer.
Supermarket of the Year
I very seldom buy beer in a Supermarket, I would probably say the Co-Op on the Isle of skye that I bought a Punk from at a particularly thirsty point on a holiday.
Independent Retailer of the Year
Going for a homer here, but I have nothing but love and respect for the guys at Cornelius on Easter Road. We are also blessed to have The Beer Hive and Bottle Baron in Edinburgh, but Cornelius’ proximity to my house and walk home steals it.
Online Retailer of the Year
I don’t do much online beer buying, but almost all of it this year has been through Être Gourmet. A ridiculous selection at ridiculously low prices.
Best Beer Book or Magazine
James Watt’s Business for Punks brought me nothing but joy. I guess that probably makes it the best beer book this year.
Best Beer Blog or Website
I definitely do not read enough Beer Blogs, but this piece from TheBeerQueer really arrested my attention this year in light of the Brewdog No Label scandal. Special mention to Andy Parker’s research data on Untappd.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
@binarycarrots without any shadow of doubt. Here’s the evidence.
Best Brewery Website/Social media
@pilotbeeruk know exactly how to sowshal meedja. Office stationery, Billion dollar buyouts, and life in Leith.