Andy ‘Beer Reviews’ Mogg kicked off this year’s Golden Pints yesterday and, as this is about the one thing we try not to over-think, without much agonising, here’s our contribution.
Best UK Cask Beer: Penzance Brewing Company Trink
A strong pale’n’hoppy (5.2% ABV) that we used to trek to the Star Inn for but which, this year, has become a regular at the Dock Inn in Penzance. (Causing us to all but abandon our usual Proper Job at the Yacht round the corner.) It’s so much fun to drink, with all those tropical fruit and citrus aromas climbing out of the glass, that we always end up having one more than we ought but we forgive it for the hangovers nonetheless.
Best UK Keg Beer: None
We’ve not been around the UK much this year and there isn’t all that much kegged beer down here in Cornwall so we struggled to think of an obvious candidate. We might have said St Austell Korev or, searching old Tweets, the Marble Lagonda that got us all fired up back in March but, really, neither feels quite right. So, we’re leaving this one blank. (Hereafter, if we haven’t got a nomination, we’re leaving the category out altogether.)
Best UK Bottled Beer: BrewDog Electric India
It impressed us in the heats of our saison taste-off and then stood up to, and bettered, Saison Dupont in the final. BrewDog, we think, are at their best making decent, good value, slightly pepped-up versions of foreign styles.
Best UK Canned Beer: St Austell Korev
We practically lived off Korev lager during the summer. It’s £6.60 for six cans in our local CO-OP, right next to the till, and (one duff pack aside) always tastes fresh and zippy. It works as cañes with tapas, goes grand with curry, works with a picnic on the beach, and in a posh glass is even suitable for drinking in polite company.
(NB. I had a glorious can of Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout (disclosure: a freebie, from Jameson’s Whiskey) on the platform at Exeter railway station which would have been my solo nomination. — Boak.)
Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Orval
Although Westmalle Tripel remains, and will always be, the best beer in the world, we’ve enjoyed Orval both as a go-to choice at the Lamp & Whistle in town and as a sacrilegious mixer to pep up less funky beers. It’s beguiling and unique and yet still extremely affordable.
Best Overall Beer
Oof. Tough choice. It’s…. Trink.
Best Branding: Beavertown
Even though we’re not 100 per cent convinced by all their beer, those cans just look and feel great (matte printing). Every time we produce a six-pack at a party people gather round and coo as if we’ve brought a basket of puppies.
Best UK Brewery: Harvey’s
Because their cask ale is both traditional and weird; because their London pub is one of the best in the country as well as a real showcase for their products; and because their tiny bottled beers are relics of the 1980s.
Best Overseas Brewery: Hellers/Schlenkerla
We find it almost impossible to order a box of beer online without slinging in a bottle or two of their Helles or Märzen, and often both. Again, they hit that sweet spot between trad and quirky that seems to work for us. (But, really, we’ve not been deep into overseas beer this year so they kind of win by default.)
Pub/Bar of the Year: The Star Inn, Crowlas
A range of three or more ales, brewed on site, now including an increasingly decent mild, most at less than £3 a pint; and the elusive quality of ‘pubbiness’ by the jugful.
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2015: MONO, Falmouth
Like its sister round the corner, Hand Bar, MONO offers a mix of interesting, carefully selected cask and keg beers, served by staff who are certainly hipper than us but not too cool to be friendly. (We wrote about it here.)
Independent/Online Retailer of the Year: Ales by Mail
We’ve never committed to one particular indie beer retailer — it all depends which beers we’re after and which can put together the cheapest bundle overall — but we’ve found ourselves using Ales by Mail a lot this year. Their website, though still frustrating in places, is much improved, too.
Best Beer Book or Magazine: London’s Best Beer, Pubs & Bars by Des de Moor
The more we live with it, the more we like it. A fuller review is here. (DISCLOSURE: we got this as a freebie.)
Best Beer Blog or Website: Larsblog
Pretty much everything he’s written this year has made our Saturday morning links round-ups. He’s covering genuinely new territory, combining detailed research with an eye for narrative and character. We gather there is a book on the way and so there should be.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: @nickiquote
He’s not only funny but also gets more into his Tweets than some manage in entire blog posts:
[700 words on whether rockism is a better analogy for CAMRA or craft beer]
— Nick (@Nickiquote) October 4, 2015