Thursday 3 January 2013

Golden Pints Awards 2012


    Time to resurrect the blog for a timely look back through the bottom of a beer glass at the year just past. I may not have been as prolific in the blogging of my beer experiences as I would have liked but just because I wasn't blogging didn't mean I wasn't out there taking in and tasting what was a vintage year in beer. Indeed, less time spent writing meant more time sitting in lovely pubs enjoying wonderful beers in the company of great friends . It's the perfect beer equation;
    Lovely Pub + Wonderful Beers x Great Friends = The Meaning of Life
    Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer

    How can you possibly pick just one beer? I've had many solid and likeable beers this year. Fyne Ales' IPA Project more than satisfied my curiosity. As did their one off beers such as Cloudburst, Roxy, Superior IPA and Zombier. Cloudburst, in particular, was an outstanding beer and one that I hope they repeat in 2013. Hawkshead's range of beers still impress with their quality and consistency. I've yet to have an iffy beer from them and long may that continue. Their NZPA and Windermere Pale beers always make me dance inside when I first set eyes on their pumpclips in pubs. Other notable beers have included Oakham's Scarlet Macaw and Cromarty's Hit the Lip and Happy Chappy. Luckie's Brown Ale was rather special too.

    Best Overseas Draught Beer

    I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Germany over the summer and indulged myself with many fine beers so to whittle it down to just one that stands out above the rest is an impossible task. I've got it down to three and in no particular order they are;

    Martin's Brau Unfiltiert Pils, Freiburg
    Hausbrauerei Feierling Inselhopf, Freiburg
    Mahr's Brau Kellerbier Ungespundet Hefetrub, Bamberg

    All unfiltered and as hazy as an old London fog but, in my opinion, all the better and tastier for it.

    Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer

    Keesmann Herren Pils

    No explanation needed.

    Best Overall Beer

    I imbibed more Fyne Ales Jarl than any other beer in 2012 but that's probably down to being more widely available than some of their other beers but I'm going to resist the temptation of making it my best overall beer. Instead, I'm going to go for its slighty bigger, punchier and bitterer brother Cloudburst that made a fleeting appearance on the beer stage in September/October. It's been much missed since.

    Fyne Ales Cloudburst

    Best UK Brewery

    Decisions, decisions. When reflecting on this category, I thought I would base it on the criteria of who makes consistently great beer across a range of styles that I would be confident of getting a really nice pint regardless of which beer I chose. I also took into consideration which breweries I tend to drink most of. Therefore, it could only be two and in joint first place are:

    1 = Fyne Ales / Hawkshead

    Pub/Bar of the Year

    The Laurieston, Glasgow

    It's an easy choice this one. This pub is the living embodiment of the perfect beer equation;

    Lovely Pub + Wonderful Beers x Great Friends = The Meaning of Life

    It quite simply is the best place to spend a few hours appreciating the bonhomie, beers and banter.  It fits perfectly like an old glove and feels like a long lost friend. The barstaff are brilliant too. It is the ad hoc Fyne Ales brewery tap in Glasgow. Some, who really should know better, have cruelly and disrespectfully labelled The Laurieston a "Jakey Pub". This does a dis-service to the pub, the punters but above all to the publicans. The Laurieston is the textbook definition of a proper community pub and it should be cherished. I just wish there were more pubs like The Laurieston.

    Beer Festival of the Year

    Annafest (Kellerwald, Forchheim)

    23 Bierkellers, 1 Forest, 50,000 people and a week long bier festival. Wunderbar!

    Supermarket of the Year


    Independent Retailer of the Year

    Glasgow's not bad now for bottled beer with The Good Spirits Co putting on a grand show by expanding their range of domestic and continental beers. Every time I go in their beer range seems to grow. Long may that continue.

    Hippo Beers have just opened up in the West End of the city and I've been impressed with what they are trying to do too. They hosted a superb tasting session at Brel prior to opening as part of Glasgow Beer Week and I was bowled over by their infectious enthusiasm for beer. It struck me as a labour of love. I'll be keeping an eye on Hippo Beers in 2013.

    Another one to watch out for is Alesela Beers who plan to expand from online retailing into running their own off license premises in the city centre of Glasgow. I've had nothing but great beers and first rate service from Alesela online and wish them well in their new venture.

    Online Retailer

    I don't buy as much as I used to from online beer retailers but in 2012 I tended to use Alesela Beers.

    Best Beer Twitterer


    Best Beer Blog

    I greatly admire what Rich at The Beer Cast has done for beer coverage in Edinburgh. He is a true beer advocate.

    Mr Shafi takes the prize for the best beer blog. His Walking and Crawling blog is always a pleasure to read. It is detailed, informative and Adam's passion for beer shines through. If there was any justice in the beer world then Adam's collection of musings and meanderings off beer's beaten track should be turned into book poste haste. Well done Adam. More power to your pen.

    Food and Beer Pairing

    A McGhee's pie and a pint of Fyne Ales Jarl at The Laurieston

    In 2013, I'd most like to see

    Lovely Pub + Wonderful Beers x Great Friends = The Meaning of Life