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
But let’s be honest, there’s only one winner: our local, The Drapers Arms, on Gloucester Road in Bristol.
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 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 foreign beer
Based on volume consumed, and time spent dreaming about, it’s got to be De la Senne Taras Boulba.
Look, we’ve been over this: it’s Westmalle, but, boy, are we loving Karmeliet right now.
Tucher Weizen with Oakham Green Devil – Hopfenweisse!
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 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.)
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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.