Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Golden Pints 2014

The year is coming to a close so it is time to post my Golden Pint Awards for 2014.  The year did not always go to plan as I was struck down with labyrinthitus which meant missing my local beer festival.  Luckily I was able to rearrange my visit to Manchester which was scheduled for May but eventually took place towards the end of September.

Each winner is accompanied by a little explanation as well as some close seconds listed where applicable.  

If you want to check out the Golden Pint Awards made by others then click here.

Best UK Cask Beer

Saison - Langham Brewery (3.9% ABV)

This is always the most difficult category for me.  I probably consume over 200 different pints during a year and a number of these stand out.  This particular beer was launched around the time of my local beer festival which I could not attend so it wasn't until a Meet The Brewer event at the Dolphin & Anchor, Chichester that I got to try it.  At just 3.9% ABV it is massively hopped with a blend of German malts and the Belgian yeast gives it the typical banana/clove aroma.  It is intensely bitter and dry and I had to have a few pints of it just to make sure I loved it.

There are some very close seconds in this category.  These are (in no particular order) Siren Craft Undercurrent (4.5% ABV), Tiny Rebel Urban IPA (5.5% ABV), Marble Lagonda IPA (5.0% ABV), Oakham Scarlet Macaw (4.4% ABV), Dark Star NHA Pale (5.5% ABV), Revelation (5.7% ABV) and The Art Of Darkness (3.5% ABV), Flipside Russian Rouble (7.3% ABV), Wild Beer Madness IPA (6.8% ABV)  and, of course, Magic Rock High Wire (5.5% ABV). 

Best UK Keg Beer

Smog Rocket - Beavertown (5.4% ABV)

In 2013 I only consumed one keg beer.  This year my consumption went up fourfold so I still have little to choose from in this category.  However, I have had this winning beer in both bottle and can also in the past year and I love it so much.  A very worthy winner.

A close second here and certainly worthy of a menton is the Saltaire Triple Chocoholic (4.8% ABV) which tastes exactly as you would expect.  Gorgeous. 

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer

Hoxton Stout - Redchurch (6.0% ABV)

Plenty of choice in this category.  This year I discovered canned beers again and all of the Beavertown cans are fabulous and all could have been worthy winners especially the gorgeous Gamma Ray.  I have enjoyed many lovely bottled beers particularly from Weird Beard, Bristol Beer Factory and Durham Brewery but this stout from Redchurch that I had recently was absolute perfection.        

Best Overseas Draught Beer

No trips abroad this year and no overseas draught beers consumed over here.  Therefore no winner.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer

Ruthless Rye IPA (2014) - Sierra Nevada (6.6% ABV)

Plenty to choose from in this category too but this one particularly hit the spot for me.  Plenty of tropical fruit flavours but with some spicy notes too leading to a bittersweet finish.  Perfect.     

Best Collaboration Brew

De Passis - Ilkley Brewery / Rooie Dop / Oersoep (7.2% ABV)

I've had a decent number of collaborations this year and quite a few of them have been a hit.  I had some lovely beers during my World Cup of Beers while watching the football over the summer and this winner was the only one to achieve my top rating and it is a three-way collaboration between Ilkley and a couple of Dutch brewers.  You can read my review of it here.  

Best Overall Beer

Saison by Langham Brewery

Hard to choose between all of the above because they are so very different.  However, the local choice wins it for me.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label

Ilkley Brewery

For the second year  running I give this category to Ilkley.  As I said last year, I like breweries to have a branding that has a common look and feel across their range and the Ilkley Brewery achieves that with labels that also have a classy look.  When you see them you instantly know it is Ilkley.

Best UK Brewery

I could not choose between these two and they win for different reasons.  My visit to the Marble Arch in Manchester was the highlight of my trip up north and I enjoyed trying a few from their fantastic range and Marble Dobber remains one of my all-time favourite beers.  To that list I can now also add Marble Pint, Lagonda IPA and Earl Grey IPA too.  For Beavertown it was their range of canned beers that I was delighted to try this year.  I was already a fan of Smog Rocket and there is not a single beer in their portfolio that I would not choose if I saw them on sale anywhere.

Best Overseas Brewery

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada never disappoint and the two beers I've had from them this year have both been first class.  I did discover the beer from a few Dutch micros this year too, particularly De Molen, and I will try and get more from these in 2015.  Perhaps they will challenge for this award next year.    

Best New Brewery Opening 2014

Naked Beer Company (West Sussex)

For the second year running it could have been a new Cornish craft brewer that won this award as I did enjoy the Firebrand Graffiti IPA (5.0% ABV) when I tried it.  However, just to prove Golden Pints can be bought I give this to the local micro that offered me their beers to try and review.  You can read the review here but I was impressed enough to give them this award too.    

Pub/Bar of the Year

Inglenook Hotel, Pagham 
This pub was my local before I moved house in July and I have really missed my lunchtime stroll down to this pub to sample the beery delights from some of the top breweries in the UK such as Thornbridge, Magic Rock, Dark Star, Buxton, Marble, etc.  All of these top class beers can be enjoyed in one of a number of cosy areas with real fires and chairs you can just sink into.  You can read my review of this pub here.

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014

The Brooksteed Alehouse, Worthing

I love micropubs.  You can read my review of the Brooksteed Alehouse here.  It has quickly become my favourite place for a pint.  Another great place which opened this year is the Brewhouse & Kitchen in Dorchester.  They also opened up in Islington and next year there are two further openings planned (in Highbury and Bristol).

Beer Festival of the Year

Sussex CAMRA Branches Beer & Cider Festival 2014  

2014 was not a good year for festival visits.  I missed my local festival but I did get to enjoy this one in Hove which takes place in March.  You can read my review of the festival here but for both beer quality and selection it was absolutely fab and in fact it was one of the best beer festivals I have attended for many years.      

Supermarket of the Year


Their great selection of Locales beats all the competition around here.          

Independent Retailer of the Year

Cotteridge Wines, Birmingham

Winner for the second year running and after a visit in the summer they are even better than before.  I haven't found a retailer that comes close to them although I am glad to have discovered Trafalgar Wines in Brighton which is by far the best in my area.

Online Retailer of the Year

Yorkshire Ales

This year I have used Beer Hawk, Ales By Mail, Beer Merchants, Beers Of Europe and Yorkshire Ales.  The service from all of them has been first class.  Yorkshire Ales come top simply because they are impossible to beat at what they do.  If it is Yorkshire beer you want then they are the place to go.  All of the other retailers stock good quality beers but I do find it hard to find everything I want from just one of them.  

Best Beer Book or Magazine

'The World Atlas of Beer' by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont

Most of my books are given to me as Christmas presents so I need to look back at what I received last Christmas.  I did receive three books for my birthday last week but I have not had a chance to digest these so these will challenge for the award next year.  

This winning tome was my favourite present from last Christmas.  A large, colourful and informative look at the best craft beers from around the world.      

Best Beer Blog or Website

BeersManchester / Look At Brew

My blog has links to all of my favourite bloggers and there have been a few additions this year but BeersManchester wins again simply because I enjoy the way Jim describes in detail everything he drinks and the places he drinks them in.  He was also kind enough to show me around the pubs of Manchester which was my beery highlight of 2014.  

This year I have added a joint winner though.  Look At Brew (Rach Smith) is a very well written blog which focuses on the Sussex beer scene.  Every piece is well researched and informative.  

Best Beer App

Winner for a second successive year.  Keeps track of everything I drink and a valuable resource for things like the Golden Pints when I need to look back at what I have consumed over the year.  I like collecting badges too of course !!

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitter


The Twitter mouthpiece for the Beer O'Clock Show podcast.  Always entertaining, often amusing and represent all that is wonderful about the friendly world of beer on Twitter.  It was a pleasure to meet up with Steve and Mark at the GBBF this year.        

Best Brewery Website / Social Media

Redwell Brewing

I really had absolutely no idea who to award this to.  However, I have followed Redwell closely this year following a visit last year.  Their website is first class, their Facebook posts and tweets are both informative and amusing and, most importantly, they are really nice people too.           

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year

A pint and a packet of Nobby's Nuts works for me.

That brings 2014 to a close.  A pretty good year for beer although I still haven't done a proper pub crawl around London and Brighton.  I will endeavour to put that right next year.

Happy Christmas and New Year to you all. 

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