So 2017 is over and I’ve not done any awards on the blog before but I thought I’d give this Golden Pints thing a go. Here’s what stood out to me last year, including individual breweries, beers and events.
There doesn’t seem to be any set rules to doing Golden Pint awards, with some keeping it simple and others going into great detail over many areas. More like the former, I’m just doing the categories I feel I can write about properly.
I think you’re supposed to do this in 2017 but better late than never, right? Here we go.
It’s so difficult to pick one single beer as the best of 2017 but by a narrow margin, there was one that sticks in my mind.
Like so many of the top brews of the year, this was a collaboration and between not two, but three breweries: the outstanding Cloudwater, the excellent Verdant and the brilliant Lost & Grounded.
I’ve not taken to the high ABV Double IPAs like many craft beer fans but this suited my palette to a T. This hybrid Belgian/Imperial IPA had so much going on – so much fruit flavour, along with balanced bitterness from the hops and a distinctive character. It also had a great head and went down a bit too easily for 8.2%!
Sadly, I only managed to get one can due to it being a collab with limited quantity. So I hope this gets a re-brew this year.
Winner: Cloudwater, Verdant, Lost & Grounded – Loral & Ardi
Special mentions: Magic Rock – Bearded Lady, Wiper and True – Winter Palace
Best UK brewery
There are far fewer breweries than beers, but I actually found it harder to choose a winner. I still can’t so I’m going to bend the somewhat nonexistent rules and pick two.
They are: Five Points in London, and Bristol’s Lost & Grounded. Two similar yet different breweries who after 2017 are now firm favorites of mine.
I’ve really appreciated they way these two breweries have eschewed making on-trend styles and the temptation to release a new beer every couple of weeks, instead focusing on creating a well-rounded core range and producing it at a consistently high quality.
It means that my desire to try new beers, as is often the craft mentality, often disappears in a flash when I see, for example, a pub has Railway Porter or No Rest For Dancers.
It’s not just the beer either – it’s the way the two have looked after staff, put on great events and generally been great people. There’s a lot to look forward to in 2018 from them both, I’m sure.
Winners: Five Points and Lost & Grounded
Special mentions: Fourpure, Siren and Wiper & True
Best overseas brewery
I’m not going to do any categories for best overseas brewery but I didn’t feel like I could do some awards without mentioning this brewery.
I’d heard many good things about Modern Times and although only a handful of the beers are available in the UK, a fortunate work trip to San Diego meant I was able to visit properly.
The space is amazing, as hipster as it gets really, with most of the brewery on display behind the bar. There’s also a shop and a coffee counter, too – MT roasts its own beans for coffee and to be used in beer.
I tried many a beer (in small amounts) that day and everything tasted sublime – especially Devil’s Teeth imperial stout. It’s not just the range and quality of the beer though, it’s the branding that I’m absolutely in love with.
I can’t wait to go back, or try and visit one of the new sites like the one being built in Portland.
Winner: Modern Times
Special mentions: Anchor, Amundsen and Omnipollo
Best beer festival
I went to a lot of beer festivals in 2017 – I’m sure more than any other year – and again it’s really hard to choose just one.
However, my experience of Beavertown’s Extravaganza was like no other. Unlike the others, I both volunteered and attended this one over the course of two days – the latter being a reward for the former.
The brewery had previously come under some criticism for one or two previous events but the inaugural Extravaganza was brilliant on the whole. I only have a few small quibbles about it but let’s focus on the positives here.
I wasn’t sure what volunteering would be like but it was heaps of fun and the hours flew by. My wife and I were manning the 40FT stand and a special thanks to those guys is in order for making it such a great experience.
It’s quite joyous being a social introvert in a situation were you’re getting to meet lots of people but only needing to have very short bursts of interaction – and such a diverse crowd it was too.
As well as pouring beer, it was great to then sample the delights of the festival the following day. Beavertown managed to fit in 4,000 people (it didn’t feel too cramped) along with more than 70 breweries from around the world. It was a sight to behold.
Winner: Beavertown Extravaganza
Special mentions: Craft Beer Rising, London Craft Beer Festival and Brooklyn Beer Mansion
There are plenty of places to get beer on the web but Honest Brew had another stand-out year. For starters, the site looks great and runs super well. I think everyone else is still playing catch-up in terms of quality.
That’s not all though, as the range is excellent and the subscription box service is easily one of the best around too.
Honest Brew also sit clear above the rest in my mind when it comes to innovation and unique ideas. You can tell because these ideas get ‘imitated’ shall we say, by some rivals.
Take the Bank, for example, which gives you advantages such as early access to new beers and the advertising money the guys won which was then put towards brewing a sort of crowd-sourced recipe.
Free Lunch by Northern Monk was, well, free to those who contributed and was delicious.
Winner: Honest Brew
Special mentions: Caps and Taps, Beer Heroes and Ales by Mail
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