Sunday 31 December 2023

Golden Pints 2023

It's that time of year again.

 Best UK Cask Beer:

As the Craft Beer revolution seems to have run it's course I was pleased to see cask beer was becoming more prominent again at the Beer Writers dinner. Fuller's Vintage Ale and Gale's Prize Old Ale both served as god intended! Marvellous. Which one though? Let's go with Prize Old Ale as my mate Henry was behind its current revival. 

Best UK Keg Beer:

Hmmm...yes, definitely suckled at the devil's drainpipe this year. The best though? Oh yes, Queer Brewing barley wine. 

Best UK Bottled Beer:

Armagnac barrel aged Thomas Hardy Ale. Lovely, lovely, lovely. . 

Best UK Canned Beer:

My favourite sister got me some cans from a nano brewery for xmas which I must confess did fill me with fear. Cans from a nano brewery I thought, what's the dissolved oxygen on that? But my fears were unfounded and the beers are lovely so Middle Child Party on the naughty step. 

Best Overseas Draught:

That would be one of the 8% Budějovický beers guzzled from the conditioning tank. :-)

Best Overseas Bottled Beer:

What have I had this year? Not sure so I'll play it safe and go with Orval.

Best Overseas Canned Beer:

They've started selling Sierra Nevada beers in the shop at work and the Celebration IPA was very good. 

Best collaboration brew:

Have I had any? Not that I can remember. 

Best Overall Beer:

Prize Old Ale

Best Branding:

Not really my thing this so I'll just go with whatever Too Much Black Coffee have done for Thurstons again. . 

Best UK Brewery

Taking the unprecedented step of swerving from my beer choices and I'm going for Coniston as I had a great time visiting there. Great beers too.  

Best Overseas Brewery

Sierra Nevada

Best New Brewery Opening 2023

Can't think of one.

Pub/Bar of the Year:

The Crown again. I bet there aren't many pubs that will have a Sing-along-a-Wicker-Man night!

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2023

Can't think of one of these either. 

Beer Festival of the Year:

GBBF. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from me when I heard there won't be one next year. I didn't do the rending of clothes though as it was a bit parky for that. 

Supermarket of the Year:

I don't buy much bottled or canned beer currently as I can blag them from work. I did do some stocking up when I was near a Booths though which makes them the winners. 

Independent Retailer of the Year:

 Cobbett's Real Ale is handy when I'm in need of something special so they're this years winner. 

Online Retailer of the Year:

Not my sort of thing either but I did get sent a case of beer by Gadd's so them. 

Best Beer Book or Magazine:

There can be only one winner this year: Desi Pubs by David Jesudason. Amazing stuff he's been writing and I got so into the book I managed to miss a train stop!

Best Beer Blog or Website:
This year it's Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer:

Sadly the decline of twitter is continuing but I think Jessica Mason has been best for news this year so @drinksmaven

Sunday 17 December 2023

A visit to Coniston Brewery

Back in the Summer (mid-October) I took the opportunity of being in the Lake District to visit Coniston Brewery. I have a work connection that was dead handy for getting in touch with Ian Bradley who runs the company. I'd been keen to visit for some time so I'm glad I finally got round to it. The brewery has won the highest award for its beers, The Champion Beer of Britain (CBoB), not once but twice, and with two (2) different beers.

The brewery has the cramped look so popular with breweries and the 10bbl brewing vessels are wooden clad. Whole hops are used, which have to be dug out of the copper by hand. 

Don't put your head too close

Fermenting Bluebird (CBoB 1998)

The conditioning tanks (CTs) are shinier and all hard piped in. One of them contains No. 9 Barley Wine (CBoB 2012) which is brewed just once a year. 

The CTs have their own CIP (Clean in Place) set too!

Bottled beer is also available.

The brewery is located behind The Black Bull, where bottles of Bluebird (CBoB) the tell us the beer is best served in s straight pint glass at 58°F. We put this to the test and I have to say the bottle's not wrong. Ian looked after us extremely well, not only keeping us well supplied with beer but giving us t-shirts too! We worked our way across the range up to the barley wine, which is not something you often see on draught. One of my friends hadn't drunk barley wine before and was mightily impressed. 

And even better the other friend I was with was driving so there was no trouble getting poured home.