Monday, 14 December 2015

Golden Pint Awards 2015

Firstly apologies for the lack of activity here. It's been busy and the blog took a back seat. However this is a good reason to fire it up again and hopefully "Dutch Beer of the Week" will be back in a  few days and run through until the middle of January (when I'm off the the Netherlands for Gouda Winterbier Festival). So, down to business:

Best UK cask beer  No doubt about this one - Track Brewing Sonoma. Sam Dyson hasn't put a foot wrong since he started Track in late 2014 but this 3.8% beauty is a triumph. Oozing with tropical fruit goodness and a moreish bitter kick at the end this was, and remains, an instant classic.

Best UK keg beer  The lagers from Cloudwater Brewery have been tremendously good, particularly the first in the series which was brewed using only British ingredients. Nailed the style from the off.  Very honourable mentions must go to Hawkshead Brewery for two very different beers: Chocolate & Tonka Bean Imperial Porter and at the other end of the spectrum Chuckleberry Sour.

Best UK bottled beer  Almost anything from Buxton of course but I'm giving the honours to Cloudwater again and their magnificent DIPA. 

Best UK canned beer   I haven't drunk much  but Moor Hoppiness was terrific.

Best overseas draught  Easy this one.  Sahtipaja Blueberry & White Chocolate Berliner Weisse. I was lucky to meet the Sahtipaja brewer, Timo Krjukoff, at Carnivale Brettanomyces in Amsterdam. He's a great guy and his beers are outstanding. He also brought along other Berliner Weissen - one with raspberry and cinnamon and the other with bitter orange and botanicals. Absolutely knock-out.

Best overseas bottled beer   There have been a lot of good ones this year but it's got to be the 't Ij Bridgeport Barley Wine brewed in collaboration with Marz Brewing of Chicago.  It's got some age on it now and is a classic modern barley wine (it's about 10%). Far too easy to drink.

Best overseas canned beer   Pass

Best collaboration brew   For me it was the Hawkshead / Crooked Stave beer made for the Rainbow Project. Key Lime Tau was the star turn when I went to the launch day at the Magic Rock Tap. 

Best overall beer   Got to be Sonoma.

Best branding / pump clip / bottle label   I think Manchester's Runaway Brewery has a classic and instantly recognisable image.

Best UK brewery  For sheer breadth of innovation combined with quality it's hard to beat Buxton at the moment.  I've also had a handful of seriously good beers from Gloucester Brewery and the North Riding Brewery. The latter is certainly "one to watch" I think.

Best overseas brewery   Sometimes you come across someone who you know is a star in the making so heads up to Tommie Sjef Koenen an amateur Dutch lambic blender whose beers were sensational at Carnivale Brettanomyces.

Best brewery opening  In the UK it's hard to say anything but Cloudwater to be honest. Overseas then it's got to be Brouwerij Kees in the Netherlands.  When the former Emmelisse head brewer told me he was setting up on his own I  knew something special was on the way and so it has proved to be.

Pub / bar of the year  The two, rather different, places I've had some of the best times and the best beers this year are Ye Olde Vic in Stockport and the cellar  bar/ tasting room at Beermoth in Manchester.

Best new bar / pub opening  OK it only opened on 11th December but it's still got to be Manchester's Cafe Beermoth. Further afield the Uiltje Craft Beer Bar in Haarlem is hugely enjoyable.

Beer festival of the year  The Gents Bierfestival in Ghent is quietly one of the best festivals in Belgium. Low key, very friendly and always with an inspired beer list.  In the UK the Hawkshead events are unmissable of course.

Independent retailer of the year  Well I've spent the most money at Beermoth in Manchester so it must be them.

And finally....

Best beer blog  Although there have been recent signs they might be losing their mojo, Team Stonch has been a breath of fresh air this year. A close second must be Matthew Lawrenson's Seeing the Lizards which really takes no prisoners. 


  1. Share your love of Buxton (certainly in bottles) and Cloudwater.

    Where is your top photo from ? Ghent ?

    1. The top photo is a random shot of Amsterdam (not taken by me).

  2. Yes, Stonch has gone a bit off the boil now that real life has intervened and Arthur Scargill seems to have dropped out. His latest collaborator Three Minute Hero seems to waffle around the subject without making any specific point.

    1. Yes, I really do hope they return to the old form. Arthur is certainly missed. Luckily Seeing the Lizards seems to be really hitting its stride at the moment.