Well it’s that time of year again when the great and not-so-good dish out the awards for the year’s best offerings. In something of a pilot experiment I’m doing mine whilst out drinking as (a) everything, except driving, is better that way and (b) it’s a good excuse for any memory lapses. So before I spill another drop of my Hawkshead, I proudly present...
Best UK Cask Beer: Oakham Citra. An easy choice as I’m using the simple criteria
of what I’ve supped the most of and enjoyed the most.
Honourable mentions must go to Allgates, Arbor, Buxton, Hawkshead, Magic
Rock and Summer Wine who continue to set the standard. Also as one-offs, the
Wetherspoons American beers have produced some crackers: Stone Supremely Self
Conscious Ale and Devils Backbone Eight Point IPA were outstanding.
Best UK Keg: Ooh, this is tough. Either Summer Wine and their Devil Loves
series or Summer Wine Diablo. Or maybe Beavertown Gamma Ray. Or possibly the
Harbour Pale Ale series. Christ, if I know.
Best UK Bottle/Can: Wild Beer Madness IPA. Honourable mention for the Arbor
single hop series.
Best American Draught Beer: Lagunitas IPA. Honourable mentions for Rogue and
Best American Bottled/Canned: Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale. For the same
reasons as best UK beer.
Best European Draught: Toccalmatto Rehop. See reason above.
Best Collaboration Beer: Allgates Quaker House Stout. Possibly the greatest
collaboration beer ever.
Best Overall Beer: Right, I’ve tried counting them all but I’m stalled at
about 102 so I’m going for Oakham Citra.
Best Branding, Pump Clip or Label: Crikey, who pays attention to those? I
like the new Allgates pumpclips and I like the Partizan bottle labels. Moving
Best UK Brewery: Cor another difficult category. All the above are in with a
shout as are Mallinsons. Allgates come close for the name I look for on the
pumps but for producing Curious, NZ Curious and Salty Kiss, I’m going for Magic
Rock. If I sober up tomorrow and realise I’ve dropped an obvious clanger, i
will change it. Or maybe not.
Best American Brewery: Left Hand? No. San Diego Brewing? No. A tie between
Oskar Blues and Stone.
Best European Brewery: Toccalmatto.
Best New Brewery Opening: Blimey Crikey. Another tough call. I’m going for
Burning Sky with an honourable mention for Five Points.
Pub/Bar of the Year: An easy one this. The Grove in Huddersfield. Upped its
game again this year and now boasts a brilliant selection of keg and cask beers
at affordable prices in a cracking pub environment. A special mention has to go
to my Manchester local: the Port Street Beer House where most of my money is
Best New Pub/Bar: Locally, it’s a tie between Pie & Ale and the Font in
Beer Festival of the Year: IMBC or the St Georges Hall Beer Festival in
Supermarket of the Year: Booths
Independent Retailer of the Year: The Liquor Shop in Whitefield
Online Retailer of the Year: Ales By Mail/Beermerchants
Best Beer Book or Magazine: For the Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymus
Best Beer Blog or Website: Well I hate to disagree with Boak & Bailey,
but blogging isn’t what it was. That’s nothing unusual and true of many fields
in life. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of good stuff out there;
because there is, but an infusion of new blood can’t disguise the trend as I
see it. Having said that, I really rate Total Ales and Beer Battered. Of
course, B&B themselves continue to turn out exquisite posts and locally
BeersManchester is the man with his finger on the pulse. But, ultimately, Jeff
Alworth at Beervana is the one I look to for benchmarks.
Right that’s as much as I can be bothered writing. It’s slowed my drinking
down so much that people have been coming over and asking me if I’m alright.
So, Merry Christmas and in the words of the late, great, Dave Allen, may your
God go with you.