So this year has been a strange one for me. Medical reasons have prevented me from going on beery tours this year and for the last third of the year I have been hardly able to drink due to damned medication but for what it’s worth here’s my awards from what I’ve experienced this year.
Best UK Casked beer
I’m still not sold on cask. I’m getting more adventurous but I’d choose keg any day. However, I will say that Almasty have knocked out some great cask beers this year and I’ve enjoyed each one.
Best UK kegged beer
Wylam Hickey the Rake on tap at the brewery simply blew me away. Each time I’ve had it, I wanted to get lost in its incredible aroma. Its freshness was simply stunning and for me it is the best kegged beer I have tried this year.
Best UK bottled beer
A real tough one as there have been so many incredible beers. Some have unfortunately gotten lost in a ridiculous hype machine made even worse by ridiculously limited releases. Away from this Track’s double Sonoma was simply stunning, rivalling Vermont’s finest IPAs. So did Brew by Numbers 5503- equally as stunning and again showing the masters in the US that the UK brewing scene has indeed caught up. My favourite bottled beer goes all the way back to January of this year and it is Wylam and the Yeastie Boys’ WXY. An utter tropical beast of a beer. I sent several bottles around the country to allow others to taste its greatness. So there you go award number to for the local boys.
Best UK canned beer
I’m going to sound so Newcastle biased here but this really is the best canned beer I’ve tasted this year. Almasty’s MKX IPA was a total knockout. I was lucky enough to be there on canning day and tasting it out of an unsealed can was a total joy. Disclaimner- the can I drank from was not sealed and/or sold.
Best International beer
So I’ve been so lucky this year and sampled pretty much everything Treehouse have put out and once again sampled Heady Topper and Focal Banger. This year though I’m being practical and voting in a different way. I still can’t believe that I walked into a Wetherspoons in July and saw a Six Points’ Resin in the fridge! So there you go- just because we can buy it for 2.20 a can and it’s bloody lovely!
Best International beer in a shop
Just last week I was fortunate enough to grab a whole load of Brewski IPAs. They were a particular favourite of mine last year at Borefts. Grab them if you can. As well as these pretty much anything Omnipollo put out!
So the Grove (Huddersfield) is amazing- utterly amazing and I have been to some great bars in Aberdeen, Sheffield and London this year as well as the incredible amount in Newcastle (including the awesome Free Trade Inn). However, I once again cannot go past my second home which is Brewdog Newcastle. Such incredible staff and a wonderful management team. Now with added pizza!
Best New Bar
Hello to Box Social Micro bar in Newcastle! What a great venue and the staff/owners are genuinely beautiful people who care. It will now become a regular visit on my nights out. And don’t get me started on their Campfire Porter!
Best tap room
Wylam Brewery in Exhibition Park is a work of art. It has to be seen to be believed- it is so incredibly beautiful. Oh and they also serve incredible beer. Dave (one of the owners) is such a fantastic bloke and will go out of his way to make you feel at home.
Sadly my adventures were few and far between this year but the Brewdog AGM was once again one hell of a weekend. If there are any shareholders out there who haven’t been yet then mark it down for next year. The tenth anniversary will surely be a party like no other!
This once again was an incredibly difficult. Brewdog continue to grow and bring incredible beers to the market and at the same time battle the crap that is on offer in supermarkets. Buxton continue to shine as do Magic Rock and Odyssey have blown me out of the water this year. My local boys Almasty and Northern Alchemy have also continued to amaze this year too. When it comes down to it I have chosen Wylam as my brewery of the year. What they have achieved this year is astonishing. They have a tap room and brewery which is world class and they now have beers to match that title too. Well done guys!
Best International Brewery
Omnipollo- I honestly don’t think that I’ve had a bad beer by them all year. Plus they do great bottle artwork and amazing collabs.
Best Collab Beer
Well it really should be Wylam again with their WXY with the Yeastie Boys but they’ve won with it already so I’m going for Wayniac by Magic Rock and Cigar City. Beautiful stuff!
Best New Brewery
Even though there have been several new breweries emerging this year and producing amazing beer this category is a no brainer for me. Odyssey Brewing Company are simply the real deal. Big bottles. Bold hop forward, bittertastic beers. Regular changes to the lineup. Amazing customer service. Brilliant online presence. They have it all-tenfold!
Best Range of Beers
I’m inventing this because I wanted Odyssey to win another award. Every beer they have produced has been sensational this year. I eagerly anticipate each new release line up. I hope they have all the success they deserve in 2017.
Best Beery Publication
You know what- I love Ferment magazine. What a cracking read each month.
Best Beer Label Art
Almasty- their cans look stunning. Simplicity at its best. Their pump clips are also something rather special too.
Once again I have come across met/befriended so many amazing people this year but my award goes to @hoptimisticdude. Frazer is a fountain of hop knowledge. He is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and is straight as they come. I may not agree with all of his beery opinions (Jackhammer is better) but I respect every one of them. He’s kept me in touch and informed with every bit of beer news he has come across this year. I hope to meet him in the near future. (And that it doesn’t end up as Catfish 2)