The December edition of that year was printed on glossy paper and contained features on the demise of Newquay Steam Beer; the meaning of the term ’boutique beer'; and a review of Barrie Pepper’s Bedside Book of Beer.
As was traditional, it also contained nominations for the Dredge & Mogg Golden Pint awards.
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:
Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer: St Austell 1913 Stout (version 1).
We prepared a shortlist of beers we’ve enjoyed so much we’ve drunk more than we meant to. St Austell Proper Job was on that list as was Penzance Brewing Co’s Potion 9, and Spingo Ben’s Stout. 1913 Stout has it, though, because (a) it was so delicious we drank too much two nights in a row and then (b) took what was left after the Dock Inn beer festival in a growler. (But note: version 2 was weaker and not quite as exciting.)
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Oakham Green Devil IPA.
We had a very strong, positive gut-reaction to this beer which you might call ‘love at first sip’. We used it at our first talk at the Eden Project and the crowd loved it; by the time the second talk came round, it had all been stolen, which says it all. (Runners up: Sharp’s Connoisseur’s Choice Honey Triple; Brewdog Punk IPA, our go-to fridge beer.)
Best Overseas Draught Beer.
We haven’t had all that many this year (overseas draught beer doesn’t really get this far west) but we seem to remember enjoying Brewfist Spaceman IPA in London during the Olympics, so let’s say that.
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer.
We’re boring: Achel Tripel. (It was Westmalle Tripel last year.)
We don’t really feel equipped to say as there are several ‘hot’ breweries whose beer we’ve never tried but, what the Hell… the Blue Anchor/Spingo brewery at Helston. Spingo Middle is our regular drop at the Dock Inn in Penzance and (the occasional quality wobble aside) the beer at the brewery/pub/brewpub is generally excellent, not to mention increasingly adventurous. (Pale Rauchbier!)
Waitrose for the simple reasons that (a) we came back from a trip to Exeter with rucksacks stuffed with Thornbridge beer from one of their stores and (b) Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASDA and Morrisons never actually have the beers we’re looking for, even if they’re supposed to be on their lists.
Online Retailer of the Year.
We keep coming back to Beer Merchants who seem to have what we’re looking for at the right prices and who have delivered everything promptly and (touch wood) intact. (But there’s no one retailer who’s website and stock list is perfect.)