Golden pints has been a nice bookend to the year, since, well, it started. I think it was Mark Dredge, Andy Mogg and the late Simon Johnson, in those heady times waiting for the latest beer from Stefano and Kelly at Thornbridge, or what Dom, James and Colin had rustled up at Marble and a couple of Scottish lads called James and Martin had an idea.
How times have changed. 2017 has been a long, strange year. So here we go… written from the comfort of a “Don’t Sleep Here” style bench in an drafty airport. Spending so much time away from the UK, there may be a slice of Unobtanium in here, and ignorance as to what’s happening in the UK.
2017 seemed to be a year of hazy beer, and even hazier politics.
- Best UK Cask Beer – I’ve enjoyed a few cask beer whilst I have been in the UK this year, but 2017 has been a year of great change for me, thus I have been revisiting old favorites, like Adnams Ghost Ship, Harvey’s Best Bitter, and Fullers offerings. Even the modernist Tiny Rebel’s bucking the trend of killing their cask offering, is to be applauded, and tasty beers they are too! Aside, we need to do something to better celebrate this unique and special offering here in the UK. Harvey’s for it’s comfort blanket thing, tips it for the winner for me.
- Best UK Keg Beer – Tiny Rebel, Wylam, Magic Rock and many others have been the go to when I have had the chance.
Best UK Bottled Beer – I am going to cop out here, as I’ve not been drinking so much this year, the box set that Fullers released with the great and good of UK brewing, wins for me. Great idea, and every beer, excellent and a good calling card for what’s going on the UK today.
- Best UK Canned Beer – Chubbles. From Cloudwater. This beer, a post IndyMan gift from Katie and Paul. Not long after, three of the four cans disappeared on a sofa and Netflix moment, me unawares of the ABV. Yes, I woke at 4am, later on.
- Best Overseas Draught – Jever and many other dry and bitter, hoppy pils have been my go to. Het Anker Hopsinjoor has been consumed. But I think Lambrate’s American Magut, has been the undoing of me, numerous pints on numerous occasions. That’s the winner.
- Best Overseas Bottled Beer – Woodstock Brewery, out of Woodstock, Cape Town. Their Sugarman wine barrel aged Dubbel was outstanding! It was close between this and Lambrate/Beavertown Magic Tram and Duvel Tripel Hop Citra and Frontaal New England IPA.
- Best Overseas Canned Beer – The Garage New England IPA’s the Soups and collaborations with Other Half etc, have been great! Garage Brewery are both a production brewery and brew pub in Barcelona.
- Best Collaboration Brew – I enjoyed the process in the 3/9 project, if was a little crazy. Sorry, I had to get that in there. Yes, I was involved. It was fun. The numerous Other Half Collaborations that I bumped into around Europe have been excellent too.
- Best Overall Beer – Orval. Easy
- Best Branding – Jever. They’ve upped their game, the quality of the branding and communications is up with the best of the the rest of the world now. It must be fun working for a brewery with 1, perhaps 2, beers and how to make the most of that.
- Best Pump Clip – as long as it’s not knotted hanky, old school boobies and blondes, I’m fine with it. Just tell me the style, ABV, where you are in the world, perhaps a hop or two and I’m happy.
- Best Packaged Beer Label – Cloudwater’s will surely get many mentions and having heard presentation from the people that deliver that task, they are impressive. Likewise, Northern Monk, a brewery that’s sort of new to me.
- Best UK Brewery – Burning Sky. Yes Mark is a mate, so what. His beers are go to for me. Hoppy or sour, blond or black, fruited or not, there’s never a beer that fails to impress.
- Best Overseas Brewery – I’ve really enjoyed the beers from Schronram, Jever, Orval, but to say what’s best?
- Best New Brewery Opening 2017 – Burnt Mill. Thoroughly impressed with all the beers I’ve had, their branding and the people who work there. Keep an eye on them. Burnt Mill Brewery.
- Pub/Bar of the Year – I like Alebrowar‘s pub in Gdanya, or Piwna Stopain Poznan, Outland Brewery Tap in Paris, but the pub of the year has to be Lambrate Adelchi. it’s bloody lovely.
- Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2017 – I’ve been revisiting lots of old haunts, as such new bars have been thin on the ground, but notable new visits for me have been: Cafe BeerMoth, Manchester.
- Beer Festival of the Year – er, if it’s not Beavertown Extravaganza, then quite simply you’re wrong. I was incredibly grateful of Logan to put it on for my Birthday. I am looking forward to the 2018 iteration, without the thought that I had to drive to Germany the day following! Incredible event!
- Supermarket of the Year – Waitrose, I guess. Booths are excellent. Delhaize, are ok. Edeka in Germany, for a good local, value for money selection of German favorites.
- Independent Retailer of the Year – I could be cheeky, I’ve used a few for odds and sods around the way, Mother Kelly’s was impressive, or please do check in on my old colleague Bryn at Drink Folkestone. I am looking forward to the new Beermerchants location. There are so many now, they are all incredible for what they do. It’s hard work, they, with Pubs are the gateway for the beer consumer, we need to support and value them.
- Online Retailer of the Year – Haven’t bought anything! But BeerBods impressed with their efforts with the Harbour 3/9 Project.
- Best Beer Book or Magazine – I bought a new copy of Kunze. There’s a £150 of insomnia solutions.
- Best Beer Blog or Website – I tend to read things by people I trust. Now, there’s a concept… Boak & Bailey, Joe Stange, Will Hawkes, Evan Rail and many others. Keep it up.
- Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer – I miss the days of Late Night Nick on the Beavertown social media, but I find much of today’s social media pretty tiresome and depressing; I guess this is the flavor of the times with the all the other “normal life” shite with likes of Trump, Brexit and general displays of incompetence in political power. Anyone who can turn a chuckle in that mire demands award, Those that do, are often in Scotland, so I can only assume it’s the weather that does it… Chris from New Wave, but Pilot do give me a chuckle on many occasion.
- Best Brewery Website/Social media – Harbour with their scenery, surfing and skateboarding, Vetra with clean and clear branding (and one to watch – see Stonch’s notes here), and even ZeroDegrees an old favorite and brewery far far ahead of it’s time has had a dose of Marketing Visiting A Brewery. As we grow up and mature as an industry, the branding and delivery of what we’re trying to say will and has become more and more important. I would suggest anyone in the brewery world, looking at a new website, check this out the AWWWards for Food and Drink sites.
- Podcast of the year – I’ve enjoyed the Brewing Network more than ever this year, as well as new comers to the scene The Beer Podcast as well as others, like Basic Brewing Radio.
- YouTuber – yeah that’s a thing… I bought a TV this year, the first time ever and it’s got method to watch YouTube. Aside from copious amounts of Fishing stuff, I’ve enjoyed Hot Ones from First We Feast. Nothing to do with beer, I add, but there may be one next year.
After what feels like I have written an end of year report, 2018 looks like it’s going to be more and more fun, so much to do, go and see, and drink. Are there too many breweries? What is Craft? Is big brewing bad for small brewing? I’ll leave those questions for everyone else.
Ps. I’ve stopped using Instagram, hardly use Facebook and a fundamental hatred of Whatsapp; my photo updates are now on Ello and Twitter for what it’s worth.
*Some of the breweries that are mentioned are clients, some aren’t. Deal with it.