Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Golden Pint Awards 2009

Ha, you thought it was safe to go on the internet again and escape end-of-year round-ups! Not a chance! Just like office Christmas parties, my Golden Pint Awards are delayed until January to avoid blog congestion in the previous month.

Alright, I was lazy and couldn't be bothered finishing off the post and putting in all the links until now. But never mind, here are my nominations:

Best UK Draught Beer Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted
I've probably drunk more of this over the last year than any other single draught beer, so by that measure, it's already won. It's become a beacon for good beer in Scotland, always one notch bitterer, fresh, juicier than most of its competitors.

Best UK Bottled Beer BrewDog How To Disappear Completely
This was certainly the beer that I spent the most time hunting down. It's fantastic, with the massive hop aroma somehow still supported by enough sweet malt to make it superbly quaffable, unlike the less successful hop tea Nanny State. Bring it back!

Best Overseas Draught Beer I don't really drink imported beer on draught; it's almost always disappointing and there's usually something more local and better in the pubs I visit.

Best UK Brewery Fyne Ales
Over the last year Fyne has gone in my consciousness from being a brewery I was vaguely aware of, to being the maker of the beers that I go for first when I see them on a bar top. I thought I didn't like stout with US hops, until I tried their Vital Spark.

Best Overseas Brewery Beck-Bräu Trabelsdorf
It's rare that I pay £4 for a bottle of standard strength beer and think it worth every penny, but that's how good their Pils is. I fully expect this time next year we'll be talking about this outfit in sentences of the ilk of "At the forefront of new-wave German brewing..."

Pub/Bar of the Year
Blackfriars has won this in my book due to augmenting its already tick-worthy real ale list with a fridge of American, British, German and Belgian craft bottles. Runner-up, though, was Samuel Dow on the south side, which despite a far more restricted selection, chooses excellent beers (usually from Harviestoun and/or Fyne) and serves them in superb condition.

Beer Festival of the Year
CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival was far better than I expected. It cost me a fortune to get down from Scotland, but I'm glad I did. No other festival combines the enormous beer list with the opportunity to chat to so many brewery people and beer fanatics.

Supermarket of the Year
Probably Sainsbury's for their beer competition, which was fun, but I've bought more beer at Asda ... when I go to see my mum, on the way I pick up two Punk IPA and one Guinness Foreign Extra Stout for a total of £4. That's a good deal however you look at it. It's sobering to think that the supermarkets, whatever else they do wrong, are way ahead of the traditional off-licence chains in their beer selection.

Independent Retailer of the Year
We're not overly blessed with specialist retailers in Glasgow. The best range of Scottish beer is at Peckhams ... the only other local contender has sadly reduced their range of beer this year rather than expanding it, though they have some interesting US beers and are home to permanent deals on Williams Bros beers. I probably spend more there than at Peckham's, come to think of it.

Best Beer Book
There's only one contender, really, isn't there? Hops and Glory by Pete Brown. Probably the best researched book on India Pale Ale yet published, and certainly the funniest. The lack of academic footnotes make it appear less serious than it actually is, which is a shame, but I suppose the publisher wouldn't have stood for that in a popular work. Martyn Cornell's Amber Gold and Black would have won sight unseen, but it's not actually published until next year.

Best Beer Blog
Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. I have learned more from this blog in the last year than from any other, it's as simple as that.

Best Online Interactive Brewery
Still has to be BrewDog. A gift to bloggers, always something to write about, so much so that I had to swear off it so I could write about other breweries as well. And the launches with free beer, the gimmicks, the adventures, all great fun. Now if the beer were crap, all this would really put me off them. But the beer is great.

Next Year I’d Most Like To...
Go cycle-camping in Franconia. A tent, a bike and two bungees to strap a crate of beer onto the bike. I want to go more places in general, really.

Online Retailer of the Year Can't really say as the only place I've bought beer online has been BrewDog.

Best Beer Twitterer
Jeff Bell. He tweets what beer is about to come on in his pub! Other tweeters are entertaining, but this is actually useful. Well, if you happen to live near his pub it is. I do wish my regular haunts would do this. It would alert me when there's something on that I don't want to miss.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year Beer and cheese. I'm a simple soul. Usually a dark, sweet, soy-sauce-like old Burton ale with anything salty and mouldy, or good old pale ale and cheddar with onions. I can't believe I was in my 30s before I realised cheese and onion wasn't just a crisp flavour. With the cheese and onions, you need good beer, and good bread, another of my obsessions. Think bread and cheese is boring? It isn't.


  1. It is too late, but I read it anyway.

  2. Nice feet on the ground review. A lot to recommend there.

  3. Beck-Bräu is great. Have you tried their Affumicator? Not sure if they bottle it, but if you do go cycling down that part of the world this year, get there and try it.

  4. Just come to the National Winter Ales Fest and get it on draught vom bayerischen anstich.

    We have it all.

  5. It looks a great festival, Tandleman, but I'd rather put the £90 the train company wants to charge me for a ticket to Manchester in the kitty towards a trip to Trabelsdorf. Remind me to book trains for next year's festival by August.

  6. Any pub landlord in a competitive market should be twittering about their guest ales. A quick search here could then help me choose a pub for the evening.

  7. The decline of the Cave is depressing in the extreme. They now have no English beers, and their Scottish range limited to Williams and a couple of Arran bottles. Meanwhile, their fridges of bland lagers of the non-beer producing world and big bottles of 'pre-mixed' Cosmopolitans continue to grow at their expense.