2017 (Very Late) Golden Pint Awards @Hoppytweets
I can’t believe I’ve finally had a minute to sit down and gather my thoughts.
So it’s taken longer- a lot longer- for me to recover from my back operation. Due to this I have yet again been on medication throughout the year which has prevented me drinking/trying as many beers as I would have liked. I know that I’ve missed some but for what it’s worth here’s my picks from what I have sampled.
Best casked beer
Almasty’s Double Salted Caramild comes straight to the front of my mind here. It certainly doesn’t come across as mild! Almasty have really started turning my head towards cask in 2017. The saltiness balances perfectly with the caramel in beautiful dark ale. A one you could certainly drink a few of in one sitting.
Best kegged beer
The best kegged beer I’ve had this year was in the fabulous Free Trade Inn way back in March. I ordered it and took a sip. You know that beer that makes you literally stop in your tracks- this was one of those. La Vermontoise by Hill Farmstead and Brasserie de Blaugies absolutely blew me away. Peppery funk with a light lemon pith aftertaste. This beer is so refreshing and dry that I would happily sit and drink it all night.
Best UK bottled beer
So I slowly came to the conclusion that I just don’t like UK brewed NEIPAs. They are far too sweet for me. Believe me, I have tried to like them and I know I’m in the minority on this one. One beer that most certainly could never be labelled as too sweet was Odyssey’s magnificent Mosaic. Dank and resinous, it hits you as soon as you open the bottle. The tropical and piney aromas burst out of the bottle and this repeats on the taste. I loved this beer!
Best UK canned beer
There is a pattern emerging here. Almasty’s Mosaic IPA was my favourite release of their 6% IPAs and in my opinion no one anywhere makes them as good or as consistently as this tiny brewery in Shiremoor. If this beer had been released by one of the big US breweries then people would have been queueing around the block for it. It is simply stunning!
Best International beer
So its La Vermontoise yet again! Like I say, this beer made me stop walking away from the bar. It is one I will constantly try to source from now on.
Best International beer in a shop
In the summer, I cracked open a bottle of 2015 Founders Blushing Monk. (Disclaimer- I bought it in 2017 so it counts.) I wasn’t expecting what followed. Waves of ripe, tart raspberries literally explode on your tongue. At 9.2% it is far too dangerously quaffable. Wonderful stuff and I only paid £5 for it to boot!
Okay so I’ve been in Craft Beer Co near Covent Garden this year- fantastic place and North Bar in Leeds too this year- fantastic place again. We are also so lucky for the incredible bars we have on our doorstop in Newcastle. The Free Trade Inn is consistently excellent and a place all beer geeks must visit. Box Social, Bacchus, Brewdog and so many others all serve up fabulous beer after beer. However I’m choosing De Goudse Eend which I was lucky enough to visit in Gouda back in September. The owner is friendly and knowledgeable and it is the type of bar you could spend all night in and not have the same beer twice. Can’t wait to visit it again.
Best New Bar
Hello to The Town Mouse Micro bar in Newcastle! I discovered this one late due to not going out too much at the beginning of the year but I fell in love with the place instantly on my first visit. Great keg and cask line up and a good selection of bottles and cans. Oh and it also has a record player and a very cooly selected number of records which you can choose and play. I absolutely love this pub and it deserves all the accolades it has received this year.
Best tap room
This was a no contest category. I went to Berlin in February so you know what’s coming. Stone Brewing Berlin is like nowhere I’ve been before. It is so big it has actual trees growing inside it. It’s almost like the beer equivalent to Wonka’s chocolate factory. The tap list is ridiculous- it must be pushing 100! All the beers sampled on the night were as fresh as they can be. Go To IPA there is one of my favourite beers. The food is incredible and they have merch. SO much wonderful merch. If I had to choose one place I had to drink in if I could have no other it would be Stone Berlin. Word of warning- there is a walk involved once you leave the train station but no more than 20 minutes.
De Molen’s Borefts was once again the highlight of the year festival wise. It still surprises me how many people haven’t visited this magical festival yet. It’s like being in a different world. It’s busy but so laid back and Bodegraven is a beautiful little town. There are so many world class breweries which attend but you also get gems which you have never come across before.
This once again was an incredibly difficult. I’ve had two clear favourite breweries this year. One very close to home and one not so close. In the end I went for the one that had produced the greatest variety of beers that I had sampled and loved. So Mitch and Odyssey get my brewery of the year. A brewery that produces sensational beers which I love. They even managed to make a NEIPA which I liked. Mitch is a lovely bloke and I’m so pleased I got to spend time with him at Coppers meet the brewer. (Great night and great bottle shop by the way!)
Best International Brewery
Stigbergets- They have knocked out some brilliant, brilliant beers this year and I got to meet the team at Borefts. What a beautiful bunch of people. They also get bonus points for loving unicorns and actually having one as a mascot. They wouldn’t sell it at all mind! The beer they served on tap at Borefts was world class and I hope they grow from strength to strength this year. I’m sure they will.
Best bottle shop
This is too close to call. It’s incredible to think that within a ten minute drive I have Rehills, Champion, The Yard House and Nord! A further ten minutes more and I have the incredible Coppers. There is also Block and Bottle just over the Tyne Bridge which doubles as one of the most amazing butchers I’ve ever been in. I’m not picking one because I don’t have to. We are so lucky to have all of them and I thank all of them and their superb staff for every little beer related thing they do for Newcastle beery folk.
Best Collab Beer
Brewdog and Omnipollo’s I Wanna Be Your Dog is quite simply one of the best stouts I’ve ever tasted. It’s like thick Belgian chocolate ice cream with added pecans and a lovely boozy burn at the back. It really is a special beer.
Best Beery Publication
You know what- I still love Ferment magazine. What a cracking read each month.
Best Beer Label Art
Wylam- I’ve loved their designs in 2017- but the fact that they brought out a Twin Peaks beer meant it was no contest in this department. (Best beer label EVER!)
Best beer related podcast
I really don’t listen to enough podcasts- time thing again- but I think that Myles and his crew do a great job with @sippingforecast and I wish them all the success in the future.
Okay I’m cheating here as I’m picking two. @w1ght is slowly becoming a north east legend. Whether it is reports on forgotten local breweries, drinking 40 year old beers purchased off eBay or sharing his wonderful snaps off our gorgeous countryside or creating beer maps of all the North’s breweries (okay that’s a 2018 thing but you get my drift)- he truly is a star. Speaking of local legends- @baybeerreviews is the first place I go to when I want to know if I’ll like or dislike a beer. His daily beer reviews are beautifully written and get right to the soul of a beer. I would like to add that both Brad and Peter are bloody nice blokes too.