Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
This year Chris Hall has suggested that as well as handing out Golden Pint awards to our favourite beers and breweries that we also take a closer look at the efforts of beer bloggers and writers. This is a great idea because good writing that manages to inform, educate and entertain deserves to be celebrated and I sincerely hope this is something that builds impetus year on year. These were tough choices to make but after much deliberation these are the pieces of writing (and videos) that I enjoyed the most this year.
· Best History Post
Winner: Boak and Bailey - Where the Boddies is Buried
Rather guiltily, I don't read a lot of beer history writing. My poor excuse is that I spend all my time and energy on where beer is now and where it is going. However I found this piece by Boak and Bailey on the history of Boddington's Manchester Bitter both scintillating and fascinating. You'll never look at a pint of Boddie's in the same light again.
· Best Impassioned Rant/Op-Ed
Winner: Richard Taylor, The Beercast - Brewmeister - The Shame of British Brewing
It would have been impossible to give this award to anyone else. Richard's piece on the unscrupulous activities at Scotland's Brewmeister wasn't just blogging, this was genuine A-grade journalism. It captured the focus of the beer world at large and, most importantly, made the brewery in question change the way they went about their business. Without it I wouldn't have had the confidence to write a couple of pieces that I published this year. A special mention must go to Chris Hall for his concise deconstruction of the awful 'There's a Beer for That' campaign and Mark Johnson, for telling us how it really is.
· Best Pub Post
Winner: Chris Hall - The Golden Tiger
Runner Up: Adrian Tierney-Jones - Beer with a View
In what was an incredibly tough category to pick a winner, it was Chris Hall's piece on the Golden Tiger (U Zlatého Tygra) in Prague that transported me to a place where I swear I could almost taste those endless glasses of Pilsner. Runner up Adrian Tierney-Jones penned several great pub pieces this year and this is just one example of yet more writing that makes you feel like you're right there with him.
· Best Palate Post
Winner: Sarah Warman, Hop Topic - Stone Brewing Enjoy By 08.16.14
Explaining how a beer looks, smells and tastes can be an arduous task, especially if you want to be both engaging and informative. With her short, snappy videos Sarah Warman manages to convey this in less than three minutes and often makes you laugh out loud in the process. More established video bloggers could learn a thing or two from Sarah, mainly, to edit their damn videos. Narrowly missing out here is Chris Hall, again with a tremendous piece about a beer style that is defining the London Craft Brewing Scene and Justin Mason, who fell in love with a best bitter and wrote about it beautifully.
· Best Beer Travel Post
Winner: Michael Kiser, Good Beer Hunting - Hill Farmstead Brewery - Sisyphus Sits Upon His Rock
Runners Up: Breandán Kearney, Belgian Smaak - How Mescan Brewery Crafts Belgian Beers on the Slopes of Croagh Patrick, Adrian Tierney-Jones - In the US for the First Time
When Michel Kiser published this, quite frankly, immaculate piece on Vermont's Hill Farmstead Brewery I realised how much harder I had to work to take my own blog further. Kiser is simply on another level and every other blogger needs to take a long hard look at what he's doing and take it on board. He combines photography and words is like no other and the image of a tired, soaking wet Shaun Hill that Kiser shows us is truly evocative. If it wasn't for this then Breandán Kearney would have won hands down for his wonderful piece on Ireland's Mescan Brewery. I've also picked a great piece by Adrian Tierney-Jones as a runner up, purely because it rings so true with experiences of my own.
· Funniest Post
Winner: Per Steinar, The Evening Brews - April Fools - Kernel Rebranding
Runner Up: Craig Heap - A Return to Rapture, Cardiff's First Underwater Bar
I'm not normally one for April Fools pranks but this post from Per at the Evening Brews was a brilliant poke at the beer industry at large. While we all know that The Kernel would never sell out to 'the man' and re-brand in the way suggested here it's quite believable that other breweries would willingly do so. A superbly written and enjoyable piece. I also really enjoyed Craig Heaps fantastical, Bioshock referencing post, just watch out for those Splicers.
· Open Category - Best Audio/Video Post
Winner: Jonny Garrett, The Craft Beer Channel - Glastonbury - Converting the Masses to Craft Beer
When it comes to communicating about beer I feel that you can't do it better than with the written word but then, as a writer, I would say that. It's important not to forget all the other mediums people are using to express their thoughts about our favourite drink be it by video, photography or podcasts. With the Craft Beer Channel Jonny Garrett has created something that's both accessible to newcomers and entertaining for those with an already established interest. This video of Jonny forcing cans on unsuspecting festival goers was one of my favourites.