Another year over.
And a new one just begun.
So that was the year that was. Wasn't it shite? It’s customary at this time of year to do a review of the last 12 months. But if you think I’ve got time to waste looking at lists, comparing and contrasting; then think again. However, despite having difficulty recalling only yesterday, I will attempt a brief summary of 2010
Well Matt Cardle proved the eventual winner, but who can forget Rebecca Ferguson? Hold on, sorry, that’s meant for my X-Factor blog. Back to the hops and malt stuff.
As usual, it was a mixed bag. There were some excellent new beers, but plenty of dull brown (and other colours) beers as well. Ever man and his dog seem to be brewing now, but often it appears the dog is doing the brewing. Even the mighty Thornbridge dropped a clanger or two.
Meanwhile we’re still waiting for the Great Leap Forward. But despite a lot of hype, the new keg isn’t the new cask. Yet. However, there are some very positive signs and with the likes of Kernel and others, I’m expecting good things for 2011.
Locally, Outstanding Brewery is still going strong and we gained one new and one potential new brewery. Oh and we still have Leyden.
Sheffield continues to dazzle and kept its grip on its beery crown. It remains the “Holy City”, the “Valley of Beers”, and the “Scoopers Paradise”. Birmingham, Huddersfield and Leeds also more than held their own as far as pubs go.
Manchester, on the other hand, continued its almost imperceptible decline. There’s moans and grumbles amongst the faithful. Sure the old favourites are still there, but some are treading water a little and the action seems to have shifted to the suburbs.
The new Marble outlet hardly set the city alight and a handpump here and there doth not a beer city make. The vibrancy of several years ago has been replaced by a slight sense of stagnation. What Manchester needs is a mainstream heavy hitter. There are some potential glimmers of light, so watch this space.
Locally the trend overall was very much a reflection of the national scene. Sadly too many closures and too many underperforming pubs that could do such much better. The availability of foreign beer also remains a problem and the town centre really needs a bar for grownups.
However, we still have one of the best cask pubs in the country in the Hare & Hounds, Ramsbottom is the new Chorlton (so I’m told), the Major has become the unofficial tap for Irwell Works Brewery and the Good Samaritan has recently bounced back with a vengeance.
And with the Thwaites guest beer scheme due to start later this year, there’s plenty for local drinkers to celebrate.
Best UK Cask Beer: Based on its form in the Regal Moon and because its nectar in a glass-Thornbridge Kipling. Or possibly Pictish Nelson Sauvin/Acorn Motueka/Fyne Jarl. Honourable mentions for Phoenix Hophead as the beer most consistently enjoyed and Windermere Pale for pushing the envelope.
Best UK Bottled Beer: Kernel 1890 Stout.
Best UK Supermarket: They’re all robbing bastards.
Best Pumpclip: Whichever one I’m currently facing.
Best UK Brewery: Acorn. Not only for producing a mind boggling number (36?) of excellent IPA style beers, but for their consistency across the board.
Best UK Draught Beer Not Served By The Traditional Method Of Handpump: Meantime Kellerbier.
Best Beer Festival: Hare & Hounds, Ramsbottom.
Best Pub: The Grove, Huddersfield.
Best Beer Twitterer: Erm
Best Beer Blog: Hmmm. Is anyone still writing them? All a bit Noughties, aren’t they? But, in brief moments of sobriety, I do enjoy Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron has really carved himself an individualistic niche here-not an easy task. Even when he’s wrong (as he was about pub numbers) he’s very informative and who else could have me scrambling about for a copy of the 1955 Licensing Act.
I’m also been very impressed with Oh Good Ale. Not only is it depressingly well written, Phil discusses topics I’m interested in and presents his arguements very clearly. A good read-even if he can’t tell the difference between a pub and a bar.
Best Storm In A Pint Pot: The hilarious cask/keg method-of-dispense debacle.
In 2011 I’d Most Like To: Do more pissed live blogging. Not because it's better, but because it will stop me wasting valuable drinking time and give me even more of an excuse to visit the pub.
Ok that’s enough of that. I’ve expatiated enough. Time for a cheese nightcap.