Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
The Golden Pint awards are the brainchild of Mark Dredge from Pencil and Spoon and Andy Mogg from Beer Reviews. It's all a bit of fun and for me personally it's a nice way of rounding off my freshman year as a beer blogger. So without further ado here are my nominations as well as a few well deserving runners up.
Best UK Draught Beer - Cannonball IPA by Magic Rock Brewing (Served on Keg, North Bar, Leeds)
I remember visiting North Bar in Leeds and ordering a half of this beer from young Jim. He told me that the keg had been delivered a mere forty minutes ago and was already feverishly working his way through his pint. That afternoon I bumped into Rob from Hopzine and we both unanimously agreed that Cannoball was on furious form andwas easily the best draught beer made in the UK at the moment. Worthy runners up in this category are the impressive Thornbridge Halcyon which I had at the Euston Tap and Brodie's Hackney Red IPA which I guzzled down in The Old Coffee House.
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer - IPA Citra by The Kernel (Read my review here)
The Kernel don't do much wrong but so far I don't think they've brewed a pale ale to match the heights of the batch of IPA Citra they produced earlier in the year, simply wonderful stuff. I love the way Kernel work by using only the ingredients they have available at the time to make their beers but I wish I could get hold of this beer year round. Runners up in this category are Brodie's Dalston Black IPA and once again... Thornbridge Halcyon. You can read my review of Halcyon here.
Best Overseas Draught Beer - Brooklyn Blast! Double IPA (Served on Keg, Brooklyn Brewery, New York City)
This was an incredibly tough category in which to pick a winner as I spent almost a month in the United States (over two separate trips) plus I also visited Bruges and so I had to narrow down a plethora of incredible beers. Blast was so good that when I visited the Brooklyn Brewery back in April that my Dad went back for seconds and thirds, it was so fresh and drinkable for a 9% ABV that we simply couldn't take our lips away from our glasses. The runners up in this category are Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti which I drank in the Mayor of Old Town, Fort Collins and Odell IPA which I drank in many different places but mostly in the tap room at the Odell Brewery.
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer - Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA
Firestone Walker are another one of those great breweries that can seemingly do no wrong, it's something I drink a lot of when I visit my Dad in the States and so I was over the moon to see Firestone Walker bottles available at the Great British Beer Festival this year and it was also great to get this beer on draught in Brewdog Camden. This particular bottle holds a special place in my heart because I bashed it back in a limo on the way to Red Rocks Ampitheatre. Runners up this time are Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale and Brasserie D'Achouffe Houblon Chouffe.
Although this excellent beer from Brodie's didn't win any of the individual categories it wins best overall beer because it was the only beer this year that has been bang on form when I've had it on cask, from keg or in a bottle, quite simply it's a stunning all rounder and a deserved winner of my beer of the year. The runners up are predictably Magic Rock Cannonball and Thornbridge Halcyon because I absolutely love them, it's funny that for a man that loves American craft beer that my top three beers are all British, a sign that the best beer in the world is currently being brewed on our own fair shores.
I love all of the Odell artwork but this double black IPA features my favourite Odell imagery. I'm surprised that we've not seen this beer on UK soil yet, perhaps it's so popular in the States that there simply isn't enough of it to go around, more's the pity. The worthy runners up are Redchurch Great Eastern IPA and Magic Rock Magic 8 Ball Black IPA. The boys from Redchurch prove how effect a neat, simple piece of design can be and I love the Magic Rock artwork but was particularly fond of the purple and silver label on Magic 8 Ball that satisfied my inner Cure fan immensely.
Best UK Brewery - Brodie's Fabulous Beers
Considering they've brewed my beer of the year it would be difficult not to proclaim Brodie's at the best UK brewery. I've not had a single bad beer from these guys and these guys make a lot of beer, from the sublime and sessionable Citra through to the immense collaboration with Mikkeller, Mofo Stout, every single beer has been bang on the money. I just wish that one of my local bottle shops stocked their bottles as I want to drink their beers more often! Runners up this time are predictably Magic Rock and Thornbridge.
Best Overseas Brewery - Firestone Walker
Again this brewery wins the category hands down because every beer in their range is exceptional, from the thoroughly slurpable Pale 31 right through to the massive, barrel-aged Sucaba barley wine I have never been less than amazed by a Firestone Walker beer. It's tough to pick my runners up in this category but I'm going to plump for Great Divide because again, these guys don't seem to be able to brew a bad beer and Odell Brewing because they have a very special place in my heart.
Pub/Bar of the Year - The Mayor of Old Town, Fort Collins, Colorado
The Mayor has an incredible array of taps, 100 in fact but this is never off putting as the super friendly and knowledgable bar staff are always ready to help you make your next purchase. When in Colorado visiting the Mayor is as essential as visiting the many microbreweries in the town of Fort Collins. My runners up are the fantastic Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak, North London because they serve the best cask beer in this fine city and the Euston Tap be cause they serve the best keg beer in town and both of these pubs offer excellent value for money. They also get a nomination because they are hosting tomorrows inaugural CAMRGB Xmas Twissup!
Beer Festival of the Year - My Own Personal 2012 Beer Festival
I'm rubbish at going to beer festivals, in fact the only one I went to was the Great British Beer Festival which was good but not good enough to give it an award. So I have decided to give the award to the beer festival that is my life, I've drank hundreds of different beers this year many of which have absolutely blown me away, here's to a well stocked fridge! I really wish I'd gone to IndyManBeerCon because it looks like it was fantastic but I didn't so I can't even make it a runner up.
Brodie's Dalston Black - My 2012 Beer of the Year
Supermarket of the Year - Oddbins (Particularly my local Crouch End Branch)
Wine shops, at one point they were every where until the collapse of Threshers a few years ago, the classic British 'offy' has a reputation for being a bit boring. So Oddbins, who themselves lost several store when they went into administration last year, have emerged like a Phoenix from the ashes. My local Oddbins in Crouch End, North London now stocks an impressive range of locally brewed craft beers along side there impressive, modern selection of wines and spirits. The likes of Kernel, Redchurch and London Fields are available to pick up from a shop less than a mile away from my house and they even keep them in the fridge so I can drink them as soon as I get home, this is what the craft beer revolution is all about. Waitrose come in an admirable second place with their ever increasing selection of great beers and my local Thornton's Budgens comes in third.
Independent Retailer of the Year - Jack's Off Licence, Finsbury Park
Jacks is North London's best kept secret, it is here I can easily acquire items such as Orval, Rochefort, Racer 5 and other amazing beers on my way home. It's a tiny, unassuming place, it's brilliant because the owners don't seem to have any idea what they stock but know that the local populace appreciate their incredible selection of beers. It's minutes walk from Crouch Hill Overground stationand a little futher walk from Finsbury park, it's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. I only have one runner up here and it's another local offy, Bottle Apostle who also stock a stunning selection of local craft beer, I got my bottles of Kernel Double S.C.A.N.N.S. here and had to stop myself from buying the lot.
Online Retailer of the Year - Beer Ritz by Mail
There are a lot of great online beer retailers out there and I've used most of them but none of them have engaged me as well as Beer Ritz and my deliveries have always arrived intact and when promised. As I manage a retail/online retail outlet myself I feel like I'm in a good position to judge this category so I certainly recommend you try ordering from these guys if you haven't already. Runners up are Ales by Mail and Summer Wine Brewery who have the best online offering from any brewery I've bought from direct.
As I started writing about beer this year I started reading a lot more about it too and I found Melissa's book the most accessible and most useful book out of the lot. You could quite happilly pick this book up having never drank a beer before and put it down a seasoned beer geek. This book really helped me fill the gaps on topics I had very little knowledge about such as Gueuze and it enhanced my knowledge on my specialist subjects such as IPA, brilliant stuff. I also really enjoyed reading Ed Sealover's Mountain Brew which is a great guide to Colorado's many breweries, essential reading before you visit this State.
Few blogs have entertained me and inspired me as much as Oh Beery Me, setting yourself a challenge to review a beer every day of the year is no mean feat but to do so with such style and panache makes it all the more impressive. To write that volume of reviews is impressive but to keep each one uniquely interesting, funny and educational shows real skill, nice work sir. I also really enjoy the writing of Zak Avery on 'Are You Tasting The Pith?' It must be difficult to remain impartial when working in the industry but I think Zak manages this well and I find his excellent writing very inspiring indeed. My other runner up is Justin from Get Beer Drink Beer as Justin has been a great supporter of my own blog and I've really enjoyed his features such as Mikkeller in May and his excellent write up of his recent trip to Rome.
Best Beer Twitterer - Zak Avery (@ZakAvery)
I enjoy Zak's tweets immensely and look forward to our paths crossing one day, also he sold me a lot of beer this year through Beer Ritz by Mail and he also controls this twitter account and responds to customer requests quickly and very professionally. Of course I have to mention @NateDawg27 as twitter would not be twitter without him and @CAMRGB again for all of the support for not only my blog but for fledgling blogs all over the UK.
Best Online Brewery Presence - BrewDog
Who else could you give this to, really? The sound of #andthewinnerisnot is still ringing in my ears, arguably both the most effective and the most annoying marketing campaign of the year. I've also been very impressive with both Magic Rock and Summer Wine Brewery who have developed a wonderful one on one rapport with their customers and come in a worth joint second place.
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year - Odell Oyster Stout with Fresh Oysters
I'd never really drank beer with Oysters before this year but when I tasted Odell Oyster Stout alongside fresh Oysters in Jax Fish House, Fort Collins my eyes opened to this wonderful combination. I also still think you can't beat a good, well hopped American style IPA with a freshly made pizza, bliss.
In 2013 I’d most like to...
I'd like to meet more bloggers and brewers in person as opposed to just chatting to them on twitter. I've already made plans to attend the 2013 European Bloggers Conference and I hope to arrange more meetups with fellow bloggers as the year progresses. I also hope to visit Copenhagen next year and the big one is that I aim to be at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, after all, it's only down the road from my Dad's place...
Open category – you decide the topic
Blogging, blogging is wonderful, writing is a wonderful creative outlet and I can't believe I toyed with the idea of starting a beer blog for six months before I actually bit the bullet and did it. Nearly 70,000 words later and I'm not bored, I'm hungrier than ever and I can't wait to see what next year holds for me. If you're toying with the idea of writing a blog then do it, don't worry about the fact that there are lots of blogs on your chosen subject already, just write for yourself, have a good time and don't be afraid of sharing your work, I guarantee that you'll thank me 12 months down the line.