Magic Rock Brewing

B&B’s Golden Pints 2013

Cheery-beery!

It’s that reflective time of year again when we try to remember a beer we drank in January.

When we forget about a great pub we visited in March. When whatever we say will make someone angry. When we offend person X by ranking person Y above them.

But it isn’t about us. It’s about the consensus that emerges from fifty such posts across the blogoshire. With that in mind, here are our few drops in the ocean.

(With thanks, as ever, to Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg for organising.)

Best UK Cask Beer

The cask ale we’ve enjoyed the most this year was probably Oakham Citra (4.2% ABV) at the Wellington in Birmingham, which we could still taste all the way back to Penzance.  But the cask beers we’ve enjoyed most often have to be St Austell Proper Job, St Austell Tribute, Spingo Middle, Penzance Brewing Co. Potion 9 and — brace yourselves — Bass Pale Ale. Let’s warm up by making sense of that:

  • 1st place: St Austell Proper Job
  • 2nd place: Oakham Citra
  • 3rd place: PZBC Potion 9

Best UK Keg Beer

Down here in Cornwall, there isn’t a huge amount of really good keg beer around. Harbour Brewing Aji Limon intrigued us and the same brewery’s Pilsner impressed us, especially when we found it on remote Scilly. We’ve also consumed and enjoyed quite a bit of St Austell’s Korev. Up country, we enjoyed American-style pale ales from Siren and Magic Rock in Bristol; in Sheffield, we finally fell in love with Halcyon, and very much enjoyed both St Petersburg and Chiron, all from Thornbridge; and drank as much Magic Rock Salty Kiss as possible; and, in London, Weird Beard Brew Co Amarillo Belgian IPA got us very excited indeed.

  • 1st place: Magic Rock Salty Kiss (grapefruit)
  • 2nd place: Thornbridge Halcyon (fresh, intense, clean)
  • 3rd place: Thornbridge Chiron (snappy, accessible, refreshing)

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer

We were delighted by our slab of Adnams’ Ghost Ship in cans. Brewdog Punk IPA continues to be our go-to fridge beer. We found Wild Beer Co Ninkasi an absolute delight — ‘out there’, but also very accessible. But the real revelation in bottles has been Marks & Spencer’s revamped range. Oakham’s M&S Citra IPA almost takes top spot, but, on balanced, anyone can make good beer with Citra hops: making a convincing bottled mild, on the other hand, seems to be more of a challenge.

  • 1st place: Thwaites’ Lancashire Dark Mild for Marks & Spencer (bottle)
  • 2nd place: Wild Beer Company Ninkasi (bottle)
  • 3rd place: Adnams Ghost Ship (can)

Best Overseas Draught Beer

We’re struggling to think of an overseas draught beer we’ve particularly enjoyed in the UK this year: there are far too many tired out American IPAs and pale ales, and the Mikkeller single-hop beers we tasted at Brewdog Bristol were informative but fundamentally unpleasant. We, did, however, fit in a little trip to Germany, so…

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer

For the first time in a while, we have been able to buy overseas bottled beer in a pub near our house this year, and have developed (rather belatedly) a long-term relationship with a classic Belgian beer. The top spots, however, go to a pair of show-offs:

  • 1st place: Duvel Tripel Hop 2013 (Sorachi Ace) (bottle)
  • Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi (can)
  • Orval (bottle)

Best Collaboration Brew

We haven’t had many collaboration brews — we don’t seek them out — but we did enjoy what amounted to a bit of a ‘novelty’ beer resembling an iced coffee:

  • 1st place: Thornbridge/Tap East Latte in the Morning (cask) (Disclosure: Boak’s little brother works at Tap East.)

(Hmm. Wasn’t Magic Rock Salty Kiss, mentioned elsewhere, technically a collaboration? Ah, categories, schmategories.)

Best Overall Beer

This is difficult, but not that difficult: it’s the beer we drank the minute we got off the train in Sheffield and then at every opportunity thereafter for the duration of our visit in June:

  • MAGIC ROCK SALTY KISS (GRAPEFRUIT)

Maybe it is cheeky for a new British brewer to dabble in brewing a Gose; and maybe flinging fruit into beer left right and centre is all that is wrong with ‘craft beer’; but by the heck, was it tasty. Shame about the rather off-putting name, but you can’t have everything.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label

Generally, standards are on the up. One of our favourites, though, is this beauty which adorns Mexi-Cocoa from Rebel Brewing in Penryn, near Falmouth:

Mexi-white1
Source: The Rebel Brewing Co website.

Best UK Brewery

Best overall? Jeez, this is tough. Getting to know one beer is difficult, let alone an entire brewery. We’re pretty intimate with the output and business practices of St Austell and are delighted they’re our local Big Regional, but they don’t get everything right. We continue to be impressed by the slickness and overall quality of Thornbridge. We’re total fanpersons for Fuller’s, on the strength of the Past Master’s historic range alone. We’ve not had a dud from Thwaites this year. For what it’s worth, then:

  • 1st place: St Austell
  • 2nd place: Thornbridge

Best Overseas Brewery

As above, this is too big a question for us, but, as we’d happily drown in Westmalle Tripel, let’s say:

  • 1st place: Westmalle

Pub/Bar of the Year

Nothing tremendously original here:

  • 1st place: Beerwolf Books, Falmouth
  • 2nd place: Star Inn, Crowlas, near Penzance
  • 3rd place: Cask, Pimlico, London
  • 4th place: The Sheffield Tap, Sheffield

Beer Festival of the Year

We didn’t go to any. Not one. We don’t, when push comes to shove, really enjoy them very much. But maybe next year we’ll make it to one or more of the ‘new wave’ festivals and see if they’re any more to our taste.

Supermarket of the Year

Others have said it in previous years but we weren’t quite convinced. This year, though, we loved their range of beer-geek friendly single-hop beers, and (see above) their bottled mild, so…

  • Marks & Spencer

Online Retailer of the Year

We’ve ordered more beer online this year than any other and, apart from some frustration with badly-designed websites, found selection, packaging, speed and price roughly equivalent across the board:

  • 1st place: Beer Merchants (overall)
  • 2nd place: Beer Ritz (selection)
  • 3rd place: Adnams (value for money)

Best Beer Book or Magazine

We’ve been spoiled for choice this year, but:

Best Beer Blog or Website

We don’t think beer blogging is dead – far from it — and, even as some better established blogs have slowed down, excellent new ones have emerged to fill the gap. Our top pick, while perhaps too ‘cheery beery’ for some people’s tastes, has consistently turned out almost magazine-quality interviews and features, with tons of great photography:

Best Beer App

Apps designed for specifically for beer are, on the whole, like single-purpose kitchen gadgets: they clutter up the cupboard and gather dust. So…

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer

  • 1st place: Simon James, because of this:

Best Brewery Website/Social media

Purely because, in researching our book, their tendency to record every thought in archived blog posts going back years has been extremely useful…

And we’re done

Although, as we enjoyed Golden Pints 1976 so much last year, keep an eye out for another historical list in the next few days.

11 thoughts on “B&B’s Golden Pints 2013”

  1. another blogger with a fast turnaround! Some more agreement with mine again too, but you reminded me about Stan’s book so will need to expand that section in my post!

  2. Thanks for the very kind words, though I do hope the term ‘cheery beery’ doesn’t catch on! Saying that, we are very conscious how positive we are and have chosen to be so. Much more satisfying to write about things we really like.

  3. My own list would be as follows

    Best UK Cask Beer – Oakham Citra.
    Best UK Keg Beer – Magic Rock Clown Juice, because it’s the one keg beer I I don’t drink thinking it would be better on cask. (plus it is delicious!)
    Best UK Bottled Beer – Kernel Centennial Topaz Stella IPA

    Best Overseas draught beer – Sierra Nevada Torpedo on cask.
    Best Overseas bottled beer – Birra Del Borgo ReAle Extra, narrowly pipping Odell Lugene Stout to the post.

    Best Branding – Black Iris pumpclips are brilliant.

    Best UK Brewery – Bristol Beer Factory for being consistently excellent across a wide range of beer styles
    Best Overseas Brewery – Really enjoyed a lot of Brooklyn Brewery beers this year.

    Pub of the year – The Harlequin in Sheffield, just ahead of Shakespeare’s, it’s near neighbour in Kelham Island
    Best beer festival – East Anglian Beer Festival in Bury St Edmunds, on the basis that it’s the festival I enjoyed the most.

    Best beer twitterer – @natedawg27 is always worth a read.

    1. Thanks for sharing. Interesting choices. Suspect Nate will do well in the Twitter category this year.

      You should post this at Andy’s or Mark’s so they can take it into account in the final tot up.

  4. their tendency to record every thought in archived blog posts going back years has been extremely useful

    Did they say anything about the decision to dump cask? I seem to remember that news sort of sneaked out.

    1. Every thought except that one.

      It was sort of announced at the opening of the Aberdeen bar and there are a few posts throughout 2011/12 hinting at moves in that direction.

  5. I think my favourite pint of cask was Dark Star Art of Darkness or Arbor Duplicity, keg was Buxton Moor Top or Adnams Clump Sagin and bottle was Saltaire Blonde (like Pilsner Urquell but… better) or Moorhouse Black Cat.

    Breweries that I hadn’t drunk much of before, but now go straight for whenever I see it on: Buntingford and Nottingham.

Comments are closed.