Stop! Hammy Time!

My Golden Pints 2013

Okay, so as you can see I don’t really use this blog at all these days because I’ve been a bit busy (another masters degree, and a couple of part time jobs will do the trick) but seeing as my last post was 2012’s Golden Pints I thought it would be appropriate to do another. Here we go!

  • Best UK Cask Beer 

Not even started typing yet and I’m remember how tricky this all is. Do I go for something that blew me away once or something I will drink every single time I see it on the chalkboard. Brodie’s London Sour Blueberry (Bordeaux Barrel Aged Version) on cask at the cask and barrel in summer stood out for me on one of the best days for beer all year in Edinburgh in 2013. Fyne Jarl, and Oakham Citra are on par in terms of a beer I would drink every time it’s on.

  • Best UK Keg Beer

Standouts on keg for this year include Alpha State Sorachi Red IPA at the hanging bat which was amazing (the smoked Belgian pale was also great. So was the Bourbon/Laphroaig Vengeance actually!), Buxton/To Øl Sky Mountain Sour which Dan and I drank too much of at the BowBar one night, and Beavertown Blood Orange IPA at the Stockbridge tap. Right now I’m leaning towards that Alpha State Bourbon/Laphroaig Vengeance but I’ve probably forgotten something.

  • Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer

I already know what it is going to be because I still remember my reaction of shock at how unexpectedly good this beer was when I drank it in my bed in my family home a few months ago during a visit but here are a few other contenders: The mental Aji Limon IPA from Harbour, the in-you-face coffee attack that was Double Dark Alliance from Arbor and Moor, 1841 XXXP Porter from Luckie Ales, Lovibonds Barrel Aged Sour Grapes, Bourbon Barrel Bearded Lady from Magic Rock and my first ever Good King Henry Special Reserve (thanks Craig!). However, for me it has to be Arbor - Mosaic IPA. For simply delivering the essence of the mosaic hop in it’s purest, more accomplished form. The other Mosaic single hop beers just didn’t come close. Perfect.

  • Best Overseas Draught Beer
Short and sweet - Birrificio Italiano Tipopils

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  • Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
This year I’ve had the pleasure of trying so many new US and European beers thanks to Garvie and his great tasting group. Most of the ones that blew me away were big imperial stouts including Péché Mortel by Dieu du Ciel at Brew Dog Edinburgh chatting to the guys from Pokey LaFarge (Name Drop!), and Liquid Confidence by To Øl. The Armand’4 Herfst Gueuze that Ben produced after a homebrew club was incredible and blew me away. I’m probably gonna go with the Dieu du Ciel - Péché Mortel though.

  • Best Collaboration Brew
Since I drank so much of it, on cask, on keg, in bottle as as a gin based cocktail it has to be the Fyne/Wild Beer Co. - Cool as a Cucumber. I hate cucumber but this was THE drink of the summer. 
  • Best Overall Beer
Arbor - Mosaic IPA because it made me so happy.
  • Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
I’m a design nerd and I’m now in charge of the marketing for the Heriot Watt/Stewart’s Natural Selection team so this is a tough one to call. I love the Wild Beer Co. bottles, the wax dipping on Ninkasi, the photography, the website the whole package. I love Partizan’s bottle design, bar the odd nip slip. The Alpha State stuff is great too but for simplicity and the attention to detail including the colours and bottle caps, for me it was Five Points Brewing Co. for the UK and Prairie Artisan Ales for international as I love their style.

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  • Best UK Brewery
Too tough to call, but for a constant supply of awesome beers with great design this year it has to be Partizan.
  • Best Overseas Brewery
I had some incredible imperial stouts from them this year and I’m looking forward to trying more of their beers in Copenhagen next week so I’m going to say To Øl
  • Best New Brewery Opening 2013
Was Alpha State this year? If so I’m gonna say them based on the standard of the beer. Shout out to Siren and Top Out in Edinburgh too.
  • Pub/Bar of the Year

I’m torn here because there are so many great pubs in this city which I go to each week and they all serve a purpose. If it’s to satisfy everyone, if I’m cold, or if I want a whisky as well as a good beer then it has to be Cloisters or Bow Bar but if we’re talking beer, which we are, then The Hanging Bat is the deserved winner. The staff are lovely and known their stuff, the food is getting better and better each week, and the meet the brewers have been fantastic, even though I’ve yet to make it downstairs yet! Heck, I’m even spending my New Years Eve there tomorrow!
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  •  Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013
The Vintage was new this year right? I’ve only been 2 or 3 times now and still missed out on the elusive spreadable chorizo but I love it down there. There is always something good on tap, well priced food and a nice atmosphere, I’ve recommended it to everyone.
  • Beer Festival of the Year
The Edinburgh Independent Beer Festival for supplying the city with the best the UK has to offer in one week, including a Brodies pub crawl, and a couple of excellent tap takeovers around the whole city. Top job Chris and team!
  • Supermarket of the Year

*spits* Since I work at an independent beer shop I don’t have any need to shop at the supermarkets anymore and rarely do but this week at home in Northern Ireland I visited a few and I think it’s safe to say they all blow unless you have a craving for the family breweries outputs (I do love me some Fullers every now and then). Sainsburys Beer Hunt was great but what happened to all those beers the following month? It’s currently the worst of the big 3 for me. Only shopped there once this year but Waitrose wins for having Oakham beers, Camden Hells and Thornbridge at a fair, and comparable price that we can sell them at.

  • Independent Retailer of the Year
When I said Great Grog last year I ended up working there (going on 7 months now) so whoever I say this year is gonna be straight on the phone when this goes live. For me this year it goes to Beer Hive for getting stuff I didn’t even know existed into the city, for cracking bottles open for tastings at the drop of a hat, and for the friendly staff. I’m expecting a call soon, but I’m taken guys.
  • Online Retailer of the Year
Not used any this year
  • Best Beer Book or Magazine

The only beer books I have time to read are textbooks so I’m gonna have to say Barley by Briggs….

  • Best Beer Blog or Website

I like Melissa Cole’s Let Me Tell You About Beer for the food and beer pairings and for the genius that is Cocktoberfest because I hate sexism in beer (and in general duh).

  • Best Beer App

Only one I use is Untappd so that by default. 

  • Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer

I’m somewhat controversially vote for my own employer @brewstore because I think Ross does as great job with the twitter and is good fun too.

  •  Best Brewery Website/Social media

The new Wild Beer Co. website is amazing. Love it.

  • Food and Beer Pairing of the Year

Wild Beer Co. Ninkasi Premier
Cru with a cheeseboard with my girlfriend and mum on Christmas day for lunch. Perfect. 
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To sum up the beer scene was too good to chose in 2013, bring on 2014! Happy New Years!

My Golden Pints 2012

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Okay, so firstly I should point out that I’m not technically a beer blogger, I tweet a  lot about beer (@_hammy), homebrew as much as I can, and post on tumblr photos of the artwork for my beers. Maybe I’ll post more about beer next year, or at least post recipes to my homebrews. Since I have a lot of time to spare over Christmas, here goes! My picks have been sorted from my Untappd account (Hammy) or just those which really stand out in my mind as being truly great.

Best UK Draught Beer:

Winner: 
Magic Rock - High Wire NZ
I had this on keg at the Bow Bar I think a few months ago and remember being blown away.

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Runner up:  Tempest - Red Eye Flight 
Had this any time I’ve seen it on tap, I love chocolate, I love big dark beer, so this was always going to be a winner for me. Other coffee beers come close, like Barista by SummerWine but the flavour of coffee from this Tempest beer blows me away every time.
Honourable mentions:  The Kernel 1yo Imperial Brown Stout at The Hanging Bat opening night, Magic Rock Clown Juice

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: 

Winner: Brodies/The Kernel - SCANNERS
Up there with the greatest Kernel IPAs in my opinion, this one blew my socks off when I had it.
Runner Up - Thornbridge - Raven. Deserved winner of best European and World wide Black IPA, epitomises the style perfectly.
Honourable mentions:  Tempest - Double Cresta, Buxton - Imperial Black, Brew Dog - Tokyo Rising Sun (Highland edition), Oakham - Green Devil, Dark Star - Six Hop, Wild Beer Co. – Bliss, Ilkley – Siberia Saison

Best Overseas Draught Beer:

Winner: Bells – Two Hearted Ale
Had this a few times in DC and it was one of the best pale ales I’ve ever had, hop heaven.

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Runner up: Girardin – Kriek
Had this at the GBBF after too many hoppy, dark, heavy beers and it was a revelation, beautiful lambic.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer:

Winner: Gueuzerie Tilquin - Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l’Ancienne
Best gueuze I’ve had so far and from the newest blender.

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Runner Up: Ska Brewing – Modus Hoperandi
Old faithful, a well priced, canned, hoppy-as-hell IPA suitable for taking along to a party.

Honourable mentions: Mikkeller – Texas Ranger Barrel Aged, Oscar Blues – Ten Fidy, Fantôme – Saison

Best Overall Beer:

Winner:
The Kernel/Brodies – SCANNERS

Best Pumpclip or Label:

Anything by Keith Shore (https://twitter.com/keith_shore) for Mikkeller, including:

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Keeping things closer to home, I love Magic Rock, Moor and Wild Beer Co. branding.

Best UK Brewery:

Buxton:

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Tsar, Axe Edge, Imperial Black, Wild Boar, Spa, American Rye, NZ Pilsner with The Kernel and a reserve series I can’t get a hold of. Next year they’re releasing a Berliner Weisse, I can’t wait.
I also have been a big fan of Arbor this year, I’ve tried most of their output and there were very few bad ones.

Best Overseas Brewery:

Mikkeller

Pub/Bar of the Year:

As much as I love it and I’ve been there plenty of times in the short time it’s been open, I don’t think it would be fair to call the Hanging Bat as this year’s winner since I’ve only spent 4 months this year in Edinburgh but if it keeps it up it’s going to win next year for sure.

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For always having great beer on tap and having a bright, comfortable space to drink in that award goes to Craft in Brighton. I pretty much visit there every time I’m in Brighton and there is always something new on Cask, which is always well kept.

(The many) Runners up:

Brighton: The Evening Star. Lewes: Snowdrop London: Craft, Cask, Brew Dog Camden, Southampton Arms, King William IV, Euston Tap, and the Holborn Whippet. Edinburgh: Cloisters, Brauhaus, Stockbridge Tap, The Southern, and Holyrood 9A.

Supermarket of the Year:

Waitrose for carrying Oakham, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Thornbridge and more. Followed by Sainsburys.

Beer Festival of the Year:

Only went to GBBF and it was better than I thought it would be, if only for the Belgian/Danish bar. US bar was great for bottles but big hoppy American beers on gravity was odd.

Independent Retailer of the Year:

Great Grog, Edinburgh. Based a couple of minutes from my current flat, and run by awesome, friendly, passionate, knowledgeable staff and stock one of the best ranges of Scottish and English beer in Edinburgh.

Runners Up: Cornelius, Edinburgh. Despite living a 15/20 minute cycle away from here, I try to make it down as often as I can. Stock a slightly more exotic range than the other beer shops in Edinburgh including the hard to find imports and usually the first to stock new UK beers. Great twitter presence and James always offers to keep me back bottles when I can’t make it to the shop.
Kris Wines, London: Most amazing shop in the country in my opinion, but I don’t get the visit enough. Carries more Belgian, German, American, Dutch, Danish, etc etc beers than any where else. Simply awesome.

Online Retailer of the Year:

Beers of Europe. Only bought one case for Christmas but had a good range at fair prices, and it came really quickly with no breakages. Also for direct brewery ordered Bristol Beer Factory delivered to NI for the same price as anywhere else in the UK (included in the price of the beer) in 2 days. Love that service.

Best Beer Blog or Website:

New Brew Thursday Despite not having access to most of the beers they try they always make me smile, and Bill’s pairings are always great. Also Oh Beautiful Beer  for merging my love of beer and design.

Best Beer Twitterer:

@CAMRGB for fighting the good fight

Best Online Brewery Presence:

Brew Dog, or Magic Rock, for the brewery webcam.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: 

Thai green curry and Pretty Things – Jack D’or saison back at the start of the year, or homemade chocolate cheesecake and Great Divide Yeti.

In 2013 I’d Most Like To:

Go to Belgium and visit all the lambic producers. Start my second masters in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University. Brew more beer, brew a sour beer, use that barrel I have for a barrel aging project. Start a homebrew club in Edinburgh with monthly meetings and hopefully brew a beer for commercial sale at the hanging bat. Going to start the ball rolling for a homebrew club in the new year, if anyone is interested in helping setting it up, talking at it, hosting meetings, please get in touch.
Finally, drink lots more great beer.

Well, that’s it for my golden pints, that took me a few hours longer than I thought.