It's coming up to the end of another year so I thought I'd take the opportunity to reflect on some of the best beery experiences I've had this year and write up my own Golden Pints winners for 2018. For my list of categories I looked at a few other blogs and podcasts and chose the best based on my year of beer. Without further ado here are my Winners and Honourable Mentions for Golden Pints Awards this year!
Best UK Cask Beer
This year I have tried to drink more cask ales as part of my New Beers Resolutions 2017 by going to more festivals and trying out more traditional beer styles. For this category I have awarded my winner as Covert from Stealth Brew Co as this has been the cask beer that I have enjoyed the most this year. Stealth Brew Co is my local brewery and Covert has been my cask ale of choice over the summer at the brewery's open weekends as it is packed wth refreshing Citra hops making it very drinkable.
Honourable mention goes to Arbor’s Shangri-La which was a very close second. Another cask ale that if I saw was on the menu I would order a pint or two!
Best UK Keg Beer
There was no question who this was going to get awarded to. It has been one of the most talked about beers this year and my first choice keg beer, Keller Pils from Lost & Grounded. This has been my go to beer of the year and I think it has changed some people's opinions, including mine, on lager beer styles.
Honourable mention to Burning Sky’s Coolship Release No. 1 which was brewed for Burning Sky’s 5th Birthday. I was fortunate to try this at Small Bar Bristol who were one of the venues involved holding an event on the the release of this beer. I really enjoyed the tartness and it reminded me of some of the saisons I had tried in Belgium last year.
This was a tricky award to pick as there's been so many great brewery collaborations this year so I decided to choose a collaborative project as my winner. I've chosen the North Sea Bridges, a project with Scottish and Scandinavian breweries collaborating to reflect on the historic trading links between the two nations. I really enjoyed working my way through this box and I can't wait to see what the project comes up with next year when the Scandinavians host Scotland.
Honourable mentions go to some of the other collaborative projects I've had this year, Wylam’s Northern Powerhouse series and the Rainbow Project 2018. I also wanted to give a shout out to Buxton and Omnipollo who's range of Ice Cream beers have always been exciting, especially with the soft serve option. We might be saying goodbye to Yellow Belly but hopefully we can still see some great collab beers from these guys next year.
Best UK Brewery
My winner for this award is Mills Brewing who I discovered this year. Based in Gloucester, Jonny and Gen are using wild fermentation and blending to create some amazing lambic beers. I really like the Belgian influence of their beers and I particularly enjoyed drinking Running Beer this year. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Mills Brewing.
Best Pub/Bar of the Year
Caskaway gets my first prize for this category as it is one of my favourite places to visit when I am in Southampton. Ian, Alex and the team are great hosts who always make you feel welcome and there is always great beers on the menu. I don't get to go to Caskaway as much as I'd like so I always make sure I visit when I'm down by the South Coast.
Honourable mentions go to The Convivial Rabbit in Dorchester who’s cask ales are kept in really good condition and to The Vaults in Devizes which I credit as one of the places that got me started on my beer journey.
Best Brewery Tap Room
I visited my winner for this award on a trip to Leeds and Huddersfield just before Christmas. Magic Rock is one of my all time favourite tap rooms and I have enjoyed many a beer in there. The tap room itself is a great sized space and there is always a good range of beers on keg as well as cask. I really like that you can see through a window to some of the brewing equipment which keeps the tap room connected to the brewery. I've also enjoyed some really great street food here from guest food vendors who pitch up outside. The only problem is that Huddersfield is quite far from where I live so whenever we’re heading up North I always make sure to pop into the Magic Rock tap room.
Honourable mentions go to Moor and Lost & Grounded as I have spent a lot of time this year in these tap rooms. I’ve spent a few afternoons at Lost & Grounded for their Summer Brewhouse Sessions and Winter Blowout as well as an exclusive tasting during Beer o’clock show’s #CrimboCrawl2018. Moor isn't too far from Bristol Temple Meads train station so it's always a great way to start or finish a day out in the city.
Best Food and Beer Destination
This award has to go to Bundobust. I've had the pleasure of going to both the Manchester and Leeds restaurants and both times the food and beer menus have been incredible. I really like that some of the local breweries produce beers in collaboration with Bundobust so that they compliment the food, my particular favourite being their Bombay Dazzler Indian Witbier produced with Northern Monk. I also really enjoy that the food is a bit like Indian Tapas and I quite often order 4 or 5 things off the menu to share with my boyfriend, including the infamous Vada Pav. Keeping everything crossed that a Bundobust might open a restaurant further down south so I can get a regular fix.
Honourable mention goes to Wings Diner at Small Bar Bristol who produce some of the best fried chicken I have ever had and the Korean dip is insane. A must if your feeling peckish on King Street!
Best Bottle Shop
My Golden Pints winner for the Best Bottle Shop of the year goes to Independent Spirit of Bath. This bottle shop always has a great range of beers and is where I stocked up on rarer beers this year. The guys in there are very friendly and knowledgeable about beer as well as spirits, including whiskey and rum. Independent Spirit also hold tasting events and this year I attended their beer ‘off’ flavours workshop to brush up on my knowledge. Overall the service I get in the Independent Spirit is above and beyond compared with other places which makes them my winner this year.
Simon Johnson award for Best Twitterer
I'm giving this award to Tom @CraftBeerHour for his weekly #CraftBeerHour segment. Tom organises for guests and followers to get involved every Tuesday to drink and talk about beer. He also organises competitions with help from breweries to boost interaction and up until recently has also been the face of the Tryanuary campaign. He is enthusiastic and engaging with his followers which is why he deserves to be recognised for this award.
Honourable mention goes to Doreen @ourdoreen for her #LetsBeerPositive initiative. In a year where there has been quite a bit of negativity within the beer industry Doreen’s weekly beery questions help us to see and share our positive experiences with others.
Best Beery Adventure
My highlight of the year has been travelling to Berlin and drinking so much German beer. I've been to some great bars and tap rooms within the city thanks to recommendations from my followers and my favourite memory will be sitting out in warm autumnal sunshine at Stone Berlin. Thank you everyone that got involved and offered me suggestions for places to visit for great beer!
Honourable mentions to East Bristol Brewery Trail and to Beer o’clock Show’s Bristol Crimbo Crawl.
Best Beer Festival
My final award for Best Beer Festival goes to Indy Man Beer Con. I've been going to IMBC for the last 4 years and it is always the highlight of my events calendar. It is one of the largest festivals of the year with a huge collection of independent breweries and is held at the Victoria Baths in Manchester. When you enter IMBC it is a bit like feeling like a kid in a sweet shop and I never know where to start. This year I really enjoyed the Buxton X Omnipollo Ice Cream soft serve and had the opportunity to try a range of beers over two sessions. The food choice was also amazing at the food court outside and as always the annual cutting of Wild Beer’s Westcombe Cheese was frenzied. There really is something for everyone at this festival which is why it has to be my winner for the Best Beer Festival.
Honourable mentions go to St Austell’s Celtic Beer Festival and Frome Craft Beer Festival. It was the first time for me this year to attend these two festivals and they were very different in their own way. In the summer at the Frome Craft Beer Festival there was a battle between Brewed Boy and Palmer Street Bottle, two bars in the town, to see who could bring the best beers to the festival. I had a great day at this event as I got to try some amazing beers. Hopefully Brewed Boy and Palmer Street Bottle will run it again next year.
In November I was invited to attend the Celtic Beer Festival as my boyfriend works for St Austell and I was blown away by the scale of the event. I really enjoyed drinking the St Austell small batch beers produced especially for the festival and one of my highlights of the day was watching the Commitments perform live at the end of the evening.
So that concludes my summery of this year’s Golden Pint Awards. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring to the beer industry. Although some things will be ending hopefully there will be some new and exciting beginnings.
Hoppy New Year Everyone!