I love the cathartic nature of looking back over 'Your' year, flicking through photos (now a swipe on the smart phone & Google Drive albums) & checking the lists of beers you've sampled (a combination of notebooks, Untappd & smart phone notes). It's a real trip down memory & emotional lane, whether good, bad, indifferent or revelatory. Make the ride & you'll know what I mean...
I've been joining in Golden Pints (started by Andy Mogg & Mark Dredge, if memory serves me right???) since 2012 on my personal blog (I'll be honest, the regularity of posts have sucked over the last two years!). It's at least one blog subject I've wholeheartedly managed to continue to publish. I always start by looking back over the years, then as the months zoom closer to present life, the lens sharpens & I begin the writing process. It's funny how the landscape changes. One 2012 mention for Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer went,
"Honourable mention: Camden Town Brewery‘ Camden Ink’ 4.4 per cent. Highlight drink on a trip to London and a so called quick stop at the Euston Tap pub, the first time I’d heard of Camden Town Brewery and made me endeavour to find out more."
Well fast forward three years & Camden Town was one of the biggest news stories in the UK beer landscape with AB-Inbev's acquisition in December 2015. A big 'Fucking Hell' was heard whispered through the collective hive mind of the indie beer scene. Funnily enough I think it highlights my lack of visiting London regularly back then - as Camden started brewing in late 2010! One thing since that post, which I did promise myself, is that I would do more travelling. I have kept to this (I'm not great at New Year's resolutions usually); though still not as much as I would have liked. But funds & time are my continual enemies upon which I wage a personal battle.
This Golden Pints has been written from Hop Hideout's highlights; as always we want to thank everyone who has supplied us ace beer & all our fantastic beery fiend customers.
- Best UK Cask Beer – Buxton Brewery x Omnipollo 'Yellow Belly' on cask at Shakespeare's pub, Sheffield, as part of a Buxton Meet the Brewer event for Sheffield Beer Week. As Buxton don't really do cask anymore (or save it for their Taphouse usually, circa 2015ish), this event became a roller-coaster of wonderfulness. Lots of great beery people crammed into the front snug, drinking delicious glasses of this rich, roasted, chocolate impy stout goodness.
- Best UK Keg Beer– Mad Hatter x Hop Hideout x Karkli 'Toncoco Loco' we were hugely proud of this beer & snack collaboration to celebrate our third birthday. Being inspired by multiple tangents including massaman curry to chilli & coconut combos, the Tonka bean became a bit of a revelation idea at the last moment. It was an expression of a beery trio friendship & I loved seeing all the responses from drinkers out in the UK. I wrote about the brew day HERE.
- Best UK Bottled Beer – Cloudwater 'DIPA v4/5' for me were a real occasion, you could sense the excitement around this release & I loved the idea of blending & sharing feedback. I know for some it kicked off a huge 'hype' debate but I wasn't on that bandwagon. I thought is was just a brewery using social media & connecting with drinkers. Sharing brewing process & ingredients & open to opinions. It was a real turning point for their double IPA brewing & I've loved every release since. I'm not bothered to get into any minutiae debate over VX is better than VY!
- Best UK Canned Beer – Alphabet 'Flat White' I know it was a hard slog for Alphabet to commission their new canning line & I somehow think they sometimes get forgotten about a little in the Manchester brewing swell. We had a Meet the Brewer event at the shop & this white coffee stout was one of the favourties of the evening. Love the Hammo artwork too. Honourable metion: NMBCo/ATG 'Smokin' Bees'
- Best Overseas Bottled Beer – Dugges 'The Orange Haze' IPA We couldn't recommend this beer & brewery enough in 2016. This Swedish outfit have stormed through the year & this orangey deliciousness was a Summer banger.
- Best Overseas Canned Beer – Reuben's 'Gose'. An absolute saline sour stunner from Seattle's finest. One of my fav beer & food pairings of 2016 from our BBQ Collective meal. Check the menu HERE.
- Best collaboration brew – Cloudwater & Magic Rock Brewing 'Three's Company'. A beer 'of a moment in time' using JW Lees' yeast & coming into fruition from Manchester Beer Week celebrations. It was a juicy, peachy IPA wonder. Loved the fact it was revisited later in the year with their 'Big Dipper' collab.
- Best Overall Beer – Cloudwater & Magic Rock Brewing 'Three's Company'. You can't deny that both breweries have been on top form in 2016.
- Best Branding – Beerbliotek. This Swedish brewery pull together colour wheels & typography on cans. Eye-catching & appealing.
- Best UK Brewery – Northern Monk Brew Co have been on fast-forward this year with big-hitting releases like Double Heathen, Mango Lassi & more. Working with a who's who of international breweries & finally announcing Hop City festival for 2017!!! *high fives*
- Best Overseas Brewery – To Ol with their damn fine looking cans, opening brewery/bar/restaurant Brus in Copenhagen & amazing Christmas beers which made my year (Jule Maelk Imperial milk stout anyone?). Honourable mention: Cascade Brewing - Art is a pioneering legend.
- Best New Brewery Opening 2016 – Elusive Brewing, Andy Parker is an inspiring, lovely beery fellow & his launch of Elusive has been wonderful to follow from pen to paper to bricks & mortar.
- Pub/Bar of the Year – Craft & Draft, Amsterdam. As Will's sister lives out in Amsterdam, the city is starting to become a second home for us. Craft & Draft is a little out of Dam's centre & has a warm neighbourhood vibe about the place. Friendly staff, lots of beer taps for choice & a little bottle shop to the front. On our return this year was new outside seating, which was a welcome addition. We also bumped into team Omnipollo at the bar after Borefts festival missions.
- Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2016 - Himmeriget, Copenhagen. This opened with little fanfare it seemed & no signage back in May when we visited. An amazing beer list both draught & bottled with Cantillon on the taps, Funky Buddha & Pipeworks cans. (We think there's an Evil Twin connection).
- Beer Festival of the Year – Mikkeller Beer Celebration is still the one for us. Nothing as yet has beaten the atmosphere & beer list.
- Independent Retailer of the Year – Tall Boys, Leeds. Nice peeps who love beer & a good time. It's great when you walk into a beer shop & you can find yourself talking about art, music & have a laugh too. They even launched our NMBCo x Tom J Newell 'Watermelon Crush' collab during Leeds Beer Week.
- Online Retailer of the Year – Beer Gonzo. We're in awe of their beer list. I've been tempted so many times to purchase, only reason I haven't is I just don't buy that much beer online surprisingly as I have lots at home. I hear they're opening a tap room & lambic bar too.
- Best Beer Book or Magazine – Pallet Magazine, impressively put together quartely magazine publication with high print values & great quality writing on interesting topics. I want to own EVERY edition of this, it's the same reasons I searched out copies of Wax Poetics back in the day.
- Best Beer Blog or Website – Draft Magazine, as it seems to be the only website I read every week. They have the click title temptation down to a winning formula. And it's always worth the read.
- Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer – @boakandbailey It's thanks in a big way to them I have a great reading round-up each month. (I never did submit that pub gem photo!)
- Best Brewery Website/Social media – Cloudwater. From their appealing photos that ooze stories on Instagram combined with personal dialogue to their heartfelt & honest blogs.
Cheers to beer!