Sunday, 22 December 2013

Dan's Golden Pints 2013

OK, so in the back part of 2013 I became an ex-blogger.  Why?  Two words - the Birmingham Beer Bash.  Post-Bash I was a spent force: sick of beer, craftiness and extensive flavour profiles.  I had to recuperate on East European lager for a looonnng time and subsequently forgot to start blogging again.  Whoops.

Then again, maybe it was a blessing all round.  

When I started writing in January 2012 I was crusading for a better beer Birmingham, one which could provide me with all the delights I wanted.  Here, at the back end of 2013 that Birmingham now exists.  Is the battle over?  Perhaps.  With a clear mind in 2014, I reckon the time will be right to revisit the state of Brum's craft scene and decide whether I am needed any longer.  Either way, I know that my place in the history of the second city is secure: as a pioneer, a visionary and a person who made things happen - sort of like a boozy Matthew Boulton or James Watt.  Yeah?

Anyway, at the end of a superb year for UK beer, here are my 'Golden Pints', because if nothing else, I still love making lists and top 10s. 

Best UK Cask Beer

I think that this has to be Oakham Green Devil IPA, which still crushes the competition.  Of all the categories, this was probably the clearest margin of victory.  In fact the only other beer which Ratebeer tells me came close was (and bear with me, cos I can't believe this either) was... Ringwood XXXX Porter, in a Wetherspoons.  It was luvverly.  

Best UK Keg Beer

A couple of standouts here - Moor Hoppiness at the Three Tuns in Bristol was fabulous.  As was Arbor/Moor Double Dark Alliance, but then again that was sampled at the Birmingham Beer Bash, so it was always going to be great experience.  Looks like Moor have this category wrapped up.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer

Salopian take this prize for Black Ops, which is smooth, hoppy and moreish. Yep.  This has been a big year for Salopian - Vertigo, Automaton, Boomerang, Black Ops, Kashmir, Oracle and Darwin's Origin were all in great form.   

Best Overseas Draught Beer

Dieu Du Ciel Aphrodisiaque was amazing at Brewdog Birmingham.  What a great brewery. 

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer

This year has delivered a whole skip-load of foreign bottles and cans of the highest possible order.  Honourable mentions are well deserved by Bruery Tart of Darkness, Cantillon Mamouche, Struise Pannepot Grand Reserva and De Molen Hemel and Aarde, but one name tops the pile:- 3 Fonteinen Armand'4 Oude Geuze Herfst was a mind-blowing experience, which preceded the best beer tasting evening ever, with 2 great friends.     

Best Collaboration Brew

Weird Beard/Northern Monk Bad Habit was certainly an awesome collaboration.  A great UK Tripel, enjoyed on keg at the Birmingham Beer Bash, surrounded by friends, respected associates and the brewers themselves.  Dreams are made of this kind of stuff.  Ja. 

Best Overall Beer

That'll be 3 Fonteinen Armand'4 Oude Geuze Herfst

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label

Hard to look past Magic Rock, but Siren and Salopian are cool too.

Best UK Brewery

Here is a list.  There are three names on the list.  The list is probably in order, but all three breweries have had a fabulous 12 months.

1. Magic Rock
2. Siren Craft
3. Salopian

A close run thing, but I reckon Magic Rock are the top dogs this year, for delivering fresh tempting High Wire and a powerful series of specials, of which Un-Human was massive. 

Best Overseas Brewery

Errrrr.  Tough one.  Can I say Cantillon?  I'm saying Cantillon

Best New Brewery Opening 2013

Siren Craft.  By a mile.  Fresh out of the box and everything of theirs that I've tasted, has been accomplished and rammed hard with flavour.    

Pub/Bar of the Year

Birmingham now has a great range, but my favourite of the new batch and my favourite overall is the Craven Arms, which combines a great welcome, good bottles, kegs and casks, supplemented by cobs, obscure music and a curmudgeonly host (who I love).

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013

Ah. You'll notice that I chose the Craven above; and they did open in 2013.  But in order to squeeze in a further new bar which is well worthy of a mention, I'm nominating Cherry Reds for this category (their new, second, city centre venue).  Great vibe.  Great decor.  Great beer.   

Beer Festival of the Year

Only 1 winner here - BIRMINGHAM BEER BASH.  Is it cheating for me to nominate BBB?  I don't care.  It was an awesome weekend for the whole of Birmingham.  Roll on Twenty Fourteen.

Supermarket of the Year

Dunno.  Waitrose maybe.

Independent Retailer of the Year

Cotteridge Wines.  They've gone from strength to strength, adding draft keg beer to an unparallelled bottle range.  Wow.  

Best Beer Blog or Website

I'm a Ratebeer man, from way back.  No reason to change now.

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer 

I've never met Boak and Bailey, but they seem like really, really cool people. 

Best Brewery Website/Social media

Evil Twin perhaps?

So that's your lot.  I LOVE YOU ALL.  See you next year.  OK bye.