Tuesday 31 December 2013

The Golden Pint Awards 2013

Here's my Golden Pints for the year, though as a craft beer drinker I haven't actually drunk any pints this year and Golden Schooners would be more appropriate

· Best UK Cask Beer

The best this year last year's Champion Beer of Britain: Coniston Old No. 9. And it was free. Shame it was a mid-week night and I was busy at work, it was gorgeous.

· Best UK Keg Beer

Good job I left this post 'til the end of the year as I don't think I drank any UK keg beer until 20th December. Having successfully avoid it all year at my thai boxing club's xmas do they had keg cobra on draught. It was rubbish but as I'm pretty sure it 's the only UK keg beer I've drunk this year it has to get the award. .

· Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer

Sharp's Quadrupel Ale. It's very good indeed, and even managed to make the Simcoe hop work, so definitely my bottled beer of the year.

· Best Overseas Draught Beer

That would be the strong stout from De Molen I had in Barcelona.

· Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer

Orval, again.

· Best Collaboration Brew

I don't get excited about beer collaborations, they tend to seem a bit gimmicky. I've probably drunk a few over the past year but none stand out.

· Best Overall Beer

Coniston Old No. 9.

I don't suppose I'll be seeing it on draught again anytime soon. I have got a bottle in the cupboard I can console myself with but it's not the same.

· Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label

Not that I've seen the label, and it is all a bit po-faced, but the Ghost Drinker/Partizan nipple thing made me laugh so it's getting the gong this year.

· Best UK Brewery

Most of my fellow beer geeks have as usual gone for the same select few to praise. Perhaps someone could do a top ten type chart so we can see which breweries have come in and out of fashion? I'm sticking to local this year as I've been most impressed with my closest brewery: Thurstons.

· Best Overseas Brewery

Must be Orval I guess.

· Best New Brewery Opening 2013

Again, not one I get excited about as I like to let breweries bed in a little before I drink their beer but I was keen to try a beer from Burning Sky  and was impressed when I did.

· Pub/Bar of the Year

Islington Craft Beer Co.: a specialist beer pub, not a bar.

· Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013

Dunno.Not sure if I've been anywhere new this year.

· Beer Festival of the Year


· Supermarket of the Year

Booths, still got the the best selection.
· Independent Retailer of the Year

Cobbett's Real Ales comes close, but no Orval so Nobel Green Wines

· Online Retailer of the Year

The only beer I've bought online came from Fuller's so it will have to be them.

· Best Beer Book or Magazine

For the Love of Hops, if you haven't got a copy you should.

· Best Beer Blog or Website

Got to be Boak and Bailey this year. Always a favourite but it's very impressive to see they've actually got even better this year.

· Best Beer App

Only recently got a smart phone so still lagging behind on this one.

· Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer

Stan Hieronmyus tweeting about my Craft Beer/grapefruit thing lead to someone asking if he could include it in a book of beer quotations. I'm tickled pink about this so it's Stan this year.
· Best Brewery Website/Social media

No really something I generally pay much attention to so I can't think of anything that's stood out.

· Food and Beer Pairing of the Year

Another thing I don't often pay much attention to as it all seems like a doomed attempt to move beer into the realm of wine culture. But I have been at a beer and food pairing event this year and Kriek and chocolate brownies went very well together.

Monday 23 December 2013

The Spirit of Broadside

Though I'm not much of a spirit drinker I was curious to try Spirit of Broadside when I saw it. Made from distilled beer and matured in oak casks for a year before bottling it's an eau de vie de biere. The boiling with hops part of beer making seems a bit wasteful for something you're going to distill anyway, but I have to say as a beer drinker it did make it more interesting to me.

 Sadly that fact I very seldom drink spirits was telling when it came to the tasting. I found it as rough as a badger's arse, so to be fair to Adnams I'll add that a whisky drinking friend seemed to enjoy it and said it was "spicy" and "fruity".

Friday 20 December 2013

The Beer House, Waterloo

Whilst in London last week I called in at The Beer House on Waterloo station. After reading Pete Brown put the boot in on his blog I was curious to see what it was like. And I needed a piss.

The place was packed out, we are into the part time pub goer season after all. Plenty of customers but despite the name it was obvious the place wasn't really a specialist beer bar. On the handpumps it was various Greene King brands, and the keg selection would have been unlike to get a beer geek going, though Meantime did get a look in.

I didn't look at what bottled beers they had available as I found the bog by then. It's definitely not a pub I'd make the point of going to, though to be fair it looked better than it did as Coopers, which it was called when I drank there years ago. And don't worry about needing a combination code for the bogs, they're only bluffing.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

A visit to Donnington Brewery

Through work I got to meet someone from the Donnington brewery recently. Though mention of Donington immediately makes me think of metal bands playing at the Monsters of Rock festival this was a different Donnington and the only heavy metal was the gleaming copper. That the copper was made of copper was enough to get me excited, but when I heard the brewery was powered by a waterwheel I was amazed. It makes Hook Norton with its occasionally used steam engine sound positively high tech!

I was lucky enough to be invited to visit so at the first available opportunity I leapt at the chance. Built in 1865 in old farm buildings sited by a lake it must surely be one of the prettiest breweries in Britain. It was founded by Richard Arkell, the bother John Arkell of Arkell’s brewery. When the grandson of the founder, Claude Arkell, died in 2007 he left it to his (second or third?) cousins at Arkell’s and both breweries are now owned by the same family.

They were graining out when I arrived, shovelling from the mash tun to a trailer on the back of a tractor.  The peacock on the tractor was an added bonus.

 As it’s a tower brewery we started at the top where the boil was taking place in an open copper.

Our visit had been timed so we’d get to see the casting out to the hop back. I got a bit over excited at this point.

The water wheel inside the building was in action, though the back-up wheel on the outside was more photogenic.

Fermentation takes place in open vessels and the beer is available in 15 pubs owned by the brewery, the free trade and bottles. And of course in the brewery cellar which is where I got to try it!


Tuesday 3 December 2013

Online chemistry of brewing course

I saw over at Jim's there's a free online brewing chemistry course coming up. It looks like it will be quite in depth so should be of interest to some of my fellow beer nerds.