Our Golden Pints for 2018

This is always an interesting exercise for us but all the more so as we’ve got better at keeping records throughout the year.

Those records, in the form of just-about-week­ly Patre­on posts on which beers we’ve enjoyed most each week­end and spread­sheets from #Every­Pu­bIn­Bris­tol, help to avoid the recen­cy effect and push us to be hon­est.

So, after a good bit of back-and-forth over Lem­sips on Wednes­day night, here’s our list of the best beers and pubs of the year.

The best English pub of 2018

It’s been a year of pub lists for us (1 | 2 | 3 | 4) and we’ve vis­it­ed some great places that were new to us, as well as loop­ing back to old favourites.

But let’s be hon­est, there’s only one win­ner: our local, The Drap­ers Arms, on Glouces­ter Road in Bris­tol.

The Drapers Arms -- a collage.
A selec­tion of our ‘Drap­ers‘ pho­tos from Twit­ter.

It’s a microp­ub and has fun­ny hours. It tends to be either a bit qui­et (Mon­day evening, Sat­ur­day after­noon) or crammed (the entire rest of the time). Occa­sion­al­ly, we wish there was a reg­u­lar, reli­able beer on the list.

But the stats speak for them­selves: at the time of writ­ing, we’re just shy of our hun­dredth vis­it since mov­ing to Bris­tol. (Not includ­ing the times one of us has been in with­out the oth­er.)

Now, that’s part­ly down to prox­im­i­ty – it real­ly is the clos­est pub to our house – but we’ve chal­lenged our­selves on this: is our num­ber three pub, the Bar­ley Mow near Tem­ple Meads, bet­ter than the Drap­ers? No, it isn’t.

Best Pub: the Drapers Arms.
Best non-Bristol pub

The Roy­al Oak at Bor­ough, Lon­don, is the best pub in Lon­don, for now, and that’s not opin­ion, it’s sci­en­tif­ic fact. Sus­sex Best! Those salt beef sand­wich­es!

The best Belgian bar

We find our­selves going back to Brasserie De L’U­nion in Saint-Gilles, Brus­sels, so that’s our win­ner. It’s earthy, a bit grot­ty, utter­ly bewil­der­ing, and there’s usu­al­ly some­one behav­ing down­right weird­ly. The beer is cheap, the ser­vice cheeky, and a diplo­mat’s girl­friend forced us to accept a gift of exot­ic fruit. And maybe the most impor­tant thing – we found it for our­selves.

The best German beer garden

We had such a nice time pre­tend­ing to be reg­u­lars at the Michaeli­garten in Munich in the autumn and can’t stop dream­ing about going there again.

The best beer of 2018

Cer­tain beers came up repeat­ed­ly in our Beers of the Week­end posts on Patre­on, some of which sur­prised us when we looked back:

  • Young’s Ordi­nary
  • Young’s Dou­ble Choco­late Stout
  • Lost & Ground­ed Keller Pils
  • Five Points Pils
  • Bath Ales Sulis
  • Bris­tol Beer Fac­to­ry Pale Blue Dot
  • Har­vey’s Sus­sex Best
  • Dark Star Hop­head
  • Thorn­bridge Jaipur
  • De la Senne Taras Boul­ba
  • Tiny Rebel Stay Puft and Impe­r­i­al Puft
  • Titan­ic Plum Porter
  • Zero Degrees Bohemi­an
  • Zero Degrees Dark Lager

And there were also some one-offs that we remem­bered, and remem­bered fond­ly, even months down the line: Siren Kiset­su, a sai­son with yuzu fruit and tea, for exam­ple, or Elgo­od’s Cool­ship Man­go Sour.

But there’s one beer that we both agreed has become a favourite – that we find our­selves excit­ed to encounter, and stick­ing on when we find it in a pub – and that’s Ched­dar Ales Bit­ter Bul­ly. It’s clean, con­sis­tent, prop­er­ly bit­ter, and a very digestible 3.8%. It also almost in that north­ern style for which we’ve got such a soft spot.

Best Beer: Bitter Bully.
Best foreign beer

Based on vol­ume con­sumed, and time spent dream­ing about, it’s got to be De la Senne Taras Boul­ba.

Best Tripel

Look, we’ve been over this: it’s West­malle, but, boy, are we lov­ing Karmeli­et right now.

Best blend

Tuch­er Weizen with Oakham Green Dev­il – Hopfen­weisse!

Best blog/writer

With a year’s worth of news, nuggets and lon­greads posts to look over, this is anoth­er we don’t need to leave to guess­work because cer­tain blogs (or writ­ers) got linked to time and again:

But there’s one blog we reck­on stands above the rest for its fre­quen­cy and depth, and for the mea­sured insight it offers into a beer cul­ture not our own, and that’s Jeff Alworth’s Beer­vana.

Best blog: Beervana.Best beer Twitterer

It’s @thebeernut. Again.

Best beer publication

Orig­i­nal Grav­i­ty because it’s dif­fer­ent, both in terms of edi­to­r­i­al approach (cre­ative, impres­sion­is­tic, the­mat­ic) and dis­tri­b­u­tion mod­el (free, in pubs). Good job, ATJ! (Dis­clo­sure: we’ve been paid to write a cou­ple of bits for OG.)

* * *

And that’s us done. We’ll also try to find time for our usu­al Best Read­ing and Best Tweets round-ups in the next week or so.

Boak & Bailey’s Golden Pints for 2017

Ah, the Golden Pints – a grim obligation undertaken out of habit rather than joy, a mere ‘circle jerk’, a relic of a past era of beer blogging…

Nah, we like ’em. We enjoy the chance to reflect, and to think about what we’ve actu­al­ly been drink­ing and which beers have real­ly stuck with us down the months.

We also enjoy read­ing oth­er peo­ple’s. They’re often biased, full of odd choic­es, and demon­strate unabashed local boos­t­er­ism… Which is what makes them great. When there are enough of them trends emerge and the same names to crop up again and again. And you know that beers and brew­eries from one part of the coun­try grudg­ing­ly men­tioned in Gold­en Pints from anoth­er must real­ly be some­thing.

We’ve decid­ed this year that an impor­tant test of Gold­en Pint sta­tus is repeata­bil­i­ty – in a land­scape of infi­nite vari­ety and choice, did a par­tic­u­lar beer war­rant a sec­ond pint? Did a par­tic­u­lar pub demand a sec­ond vis­it despite the temp­ta­tion to explore new ter­ri­to­ry?

With all that in mind, here’s what we came up with, omit­ting any cat­e­go­ry to which we did­n’t feel we could give a decent answer.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Boak & Bailey’s Gold­en Pints for 2017”

Other People’s Golden Pints, AKA Our To Do List

Inhaler and Fort Smith cans, crushed.

With the idea in mind that January is a good time to try new things we’ve been looking at other UK bloggers’ Golden Pints posts for inspiration.

Some head­lines: North­ern Monk’s cans are impress­ing peo­ple (as they have us) and Bux­ton crop up fre­quent­ly in the bot­tled beer cat­e­go­ry. Oth­er recur­ring names are Beaver­town and Mag­ic Rock (the usu­al sus­pects, you might say) and Torrside, about whom we know noth­ing, but maybe that’s a Man­ches­ter mafia thing?

Our plan was to order as many of the bot­tled and canned beers as pos­si­ble (or, rather, as is rea­son­able giv­en our bud­get) and hope­ful­ly try a few beers we would­n’t oth­er­wise think to order.

The prob­lem is that so far it’s proved tricky because the vast major­i­ty of the beers nom­i­nat­ed are one-offs or lim­it­ed edi­tions released months ago and long out-of-stock every­where we’ve checked. The few that weren’t – Mag­ic Rock Inhaler, Five Points IPA, Bux­ton Axe Edge – we’ve already had more than once.

So, instead, we’ll using peo­ple’s sug­ges­tions as a hit list of brew­eries for 2017 rather than spe­cif­ic beers.

Any­way, in case you reck­on you might have more luck than us here’s the list we came up with based on all the Gold­en Pints posts we could find using Google and Twit­ter:

  • Alpha­bet Flat White (Hop Hide­out)
  • Almasty Bour­bon Bar­rel Aged Impe­r­i­al Stout (Myles Lam­bert)
  • Beaver­town Bloody ‘Ell (Mar­tin Oates)
  • Beaver­town ‘Spres­so (Brew­ers’ Jour­nal/Steve Lam­ond)
  • Beaver­town Impe­r­i­al Lord Smog Almighty (Glenn John­son)
  • Burn­ing Sky Sai­son Anniver­saire (Matt Cur­tis)
  • Bux­ton Anglo-Bel­gique IPA (Beer O’Clock Show/Steve Lam­ond)
  • Bux­ton Axe Edge (Mash­tun & Meow)
  • Bux­ton Bour­bon Sky­line (Beer Geek Blog)
  • Bux­ton Yel­low Bel­ly (Beer­nomi­con)
  • Cloud­wa­ter DIPA V3 (Half Pint Gen­tle­man)
  • Cloud­wa­ter DIPA V4/V5 (Hop Hide­out)
  • Cloud­wa­ter DIPA V6 (Sharky)
  • Five Points Hook Island Red (Ian Cann)
  • Five Points IPA (Ian Cann)
  • Four Pure Juice­box (Rob Der­byshire)
  • Hawk­shead Tiramisu Impe­r­i­al Stout (Rob Der­byshire)
  • Lit­tle Earth Organ­ic East India Pale Ale (Tim Rowe)
  • Mad Hat Tzatzi­ki Sour (Bar­rel Aged Leeds, and us BTW.)
  • Mag­ic Rock/Cloudwater/Lees Three­’s Com­pa­ny (Boozy Pro­cras­ti­na­tor/Martin Oates)
  • Mag­ic Rock Com­mon Grounds (Jules Gray)
  • Mag­ic Rock Beard­ed Lady Grand Marnier Choco­late Orange Stout (Beer Geek Blog)
  • Mag­ic Rock Human Can­non­ball (Myles Lam­bert)
  • Mag­ic Rock Inhaler (Half Pint Gentleman/Craft Beer Chan­nel)
  • Mar­ble Por­tent of Ush­er (Chris Elston)
  • Mar­ble Valan­court (Jules Gray)
  • North­ern Monk/Against the Grain/Nomad Clan Smokin’ Bees (Ed/Mark John­son)
  • North­ern Monk Hea­then (Simon Girt)
  • North­ern Monk Man­go Las­si Hea­then (Beer­nomi­con)
  • North­ern Monk/Little Leeds Neopoli­tan Pale Ale (Beer O’Clock Show)
  • North­ern Monk Holy Tril­o­gy series (Beernomicon/Barrel Aged Leeds)
  • Old Dairy Tsar Top (Ed)
  • Red Wil­low Weight­less (Boozy Pro­cras­ti­na­tor)
  • Thorn­bridge Days of Cre­ation (Simon Girt)
  • Torrside Brew­ing Amer­i­can Bar­ley­wine (Mark Johnson/Beers Man­ches­ter)
  • Up Front Ahab (Barm)
  • Ver­dant Pulp (Sharky)
  • Vibrant For­est Impe­r­i­al Red IPA (Glenn John­son)
  • Wild Beer Squashed Grape (Joe Tin­dall)
  • Wylam Jake­head (Beer­nomi­con)

Now, that’s specif­i­cal­ly the beers named under bottles/cans – some bot­tled and canned beers were named in oth­er cat­e­gories such as, quite impor­tant­ly, BEST BEER. (That prob­a­bly explains Cloud­wa­ter’s rel­a­tive­ly mod­est show­ing.)

We prob­a­bly also just missed some lists alto­geth­er – it’s noth­ing per­son­al, just let us know below and we’ll add a link (terms and con­di­tions apply) – and there are a few more on the way, now that 2016 is actu­al­ly over. But, any­way, it’s some­thing to think on for now, isn’t it?


The Month That Was: November 2016

November 2016 (text over picture of pub ceiling).

November was a moderately productive month with a smattering of posts that we reckon stood out as a bit better than usual, plus all the side orders dished up on Facebook and Twitter. (Do give us a like/follow.)

A quick side note: Decem­ber being the month of lists, round-ups and pre­dic­tions, we’re going to be putting togeth­er a Gold­en Pints piece as usu­al but, this time, it’s going in our email newslet­ter rather than on the blog. Sign up if you’re inter­est­ed in know­ing which was our favourite crown cap design (UK) and to find out who gets the award for best use of grape­fruit juice. But now, back to busi­ness.

We start­ed the month, like almost every­one else, by hav­ing opin­ions about Antho­ny Bour­dain’s opin­ions about beer: ‘STOP TELLING PEOPLE THE BEER THEY ARE DRINKING IS THE WRONG BEER UNLESS THEY SPECIFICALLY ASK YOU FOR ADVICE!’

Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Month That Was: Novem­ber 2016”

B&B’s Golden Pints 2015

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

pztrinkpcA 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.)

BrewDog Electric India in the glass.

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “B&B’s Gold­en Pints 2015”