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?