BONUS CONTENT: Golden Pints 2015
My mountain bike is fucked. Rim failure. That’s what happens when you are a fat fuck and ride a 29er. It’s currently sitting in the LBS awaiting the arrival of a groovy new set of Mavic hoops. So there’s no off-roading action for me this weekend, which means I’ve got time on my hands, which means I can do some writing, which means you lucky readers get to discover whowhatwhere made my beer year…
BEST UK CASK BEER:
Entire Stout (4.5%) by Hop Back
My go to beer in my go to pub. In recent years the craze and thirst for mental high ABV stouts has seen the humble sub 5%er become a bit a rarity in the stout world. But Entire Stout is always available in the Glue Pot in Swindon. The landlord claims he takes it off for a week or two in the summer but I think he’s just trying to come across as cool and edgy. Entire Stout is a perfectly made pint of beer. I loves it.
BEST UK KEG BEER:
DIPA (9.0%) by Cloudwater
One dark and stormy Tuesday evening I caught the bus to Cricklade. I intended to have a swift half of Cloudwater’s DIPA – just to see what all the fuss was about. Two hours and seven halves later I was merrily dancing back to the bus stop. Delicious.
BEST UK BOTTLED OR CANNED BEER:
Pils (4.7%) by Fourpure
‘Lager! You don’t drink lager!’ No. I don’t. But I sure as hell(s) drink Fourpure Pils.
BEST OVERSEAS DRAUGHT:
IPA (7.0%) by Odell
This year I had a (US) pint of Odell IPA in the Odell Taproom in Fort Collins, Colorado. I had tears in my eyes. Hoppy tears of joy.
BEST OVERSEAS BOTTLED OR CANNED BEER:
Overlord IIPA (9.0%) by Tin Man
I bought a can of this in the Louisville Beer Store (name-dropping globe-trotting twat). I cracked it open a week or two after my return to the UK. After the first mouthful I was scolding myself for only buying one can. Next time. Next time.
BEST COLLABORATION BEER:
Londonerweisse (2.8%) by Beavertown & Dogfish Head
This should be brewed again and again and again [repeat to fade]… Then canned. Then sold in M&S.
BEST OVERALL BEER:
Flapjack Black (7.6%) by Hop Kettle
[adopts Ade Edmondson voice] ‘My most favourite beer of all time.’ At least until someone brews a beer called Scuba-DUBA.
BEST BRANDING, PUMP CLIP OR LABEL:
I thought their old style branding was naff. Their relatively recent upgrade looks well classy. Especially on cans.
BEST UK BREWERY:
I have a very simple beer policy: See Buxton Drink Buxton. Sadly, I rarely see Buxton. In 2016 I plan to visit the Buxton Taproom. I’m pretty sure I’ll see Buxton there. If not I will be sad.
BEST OVERSEAS BREWERY:
Against The Grain
In 2015 I visited their taproom and smokehouse. It was ace. I bought a shirt. I’m wearing it now.
BEST NEW BREWERY OPENING:
Great name, great beer, great taproom, great folk. I’m not sure we’ll ever see Spangalang here in the UK but that’s okay because it means I’ve now got another reason to head back to the beautiful city of Denver, Colorado.
PUB/BAR OF THE YEAR:
The Glue Pot in Swindon
It’s not the best pub in the world. But in many ways it’s the best pub in my world. And it’s certainly the pub that I’ve frequented the most in 2015. It’s less than a five minute walk from the train station and there’s a homeward bound bus stop home just around the corner, which makes it the perfect pitstop when I’ve been out of town. It sells eight different cask beers, half a dozen flat ciders or if you fancy something a little more exotic the fridge is home to Duvel and (some of) the Chimay clan. And, of course, Entire Stout is available 365 days of the year – give or take a week or so in the summer.
BEST NEW PUB/BAR OPENING OF THE YEAR:
Spangalang Taproom in Denver
I don’t think I’ve been to many new drinking establishments in 2015. But the Spangalang Taproom is ace… despite the fact it is several thousand miles away from Swindon.
BEST BEER AND FOOD PAIRING:
A Lion Stout and a Peperami
BEER FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR:
Carnivale Brettanomyces in Amsterdam
A weekend in Amsterdam drinking weird and wonderful beer and hanging out with weird and wonderful people. Why wouldn’t it be the very best beer festival? And what could possibly go wrong?
SUPERMARKET OF THE YEAR:
Fourpure Pils, ’nuff said.
INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR:
Favourite Beers in Cheltenham
An excellent stock range. And a shop dog.
ONLINE RETAILER OF THE YEAR:
I haven’t actually made an online beer purchase in 2015 but if I did it would most probably be with Beer Ritz.
BEST BEER BOOK OR MAGAZINE:
They waste paper on stuff about beer!? Crazy shit!
BEST BEER BLOG OR WEBSITE:
Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog
Even in those times when real life takes over and I don’t have the desire to read about beer and pub culture I still find the time to keep up to date with the writings of Ray & Jessica. I do wish Zak Avery would write more. But, ultimately, Boak & Bailey is where it’s at. I still haven’t read their book.
BEST BEER APP:
I’ve got 692 badges. But I don’t bother tweeting them. Unless it’s something very special.
SIMON JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST BEER TWITTERER:
Matt Curtis @totalcurtis
I like Matt Curtis. He reminds me of myself. Except he’s younger, slimmer, better looking and can play guitar. His blogging and social media whoring have really moved up several notches this year. He’s dividing opinion and stimulating conversation. And that’s how the world advances: dialogue. You might think he’s a neo-craft guru or you might think he’s a jumped-up wee dickhead but you need him. The beer world needs him. The beer world needs more folk like him.
BEST BREWERY WEBSITE/SOCIAL MEDIA:
They don’t merely pretend they care about their punters by occasionally hitting Like or Retweet. They engage. They respond. They’re still the best at this social media malarkey.