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Boak & Bailey’s Golden Pints 2014

Prompted by Andy Mogg at Beer Reviews, here are our nominations for the best bevvies, bars, book and blogs in the world of beer in 2014.

Bearing in mind that we live a long way from where the action is and haven’t been abroad, our choices are perhaps a bit parochial and conservative. In general, though we try to keep a bit of distance and remain objective, you might also want to cross-reference this lot against our disclosure page. And who knows how this list might have looked if we’d written it yesterday, or tomorrow.

Best UK Cask Beer: St Austell Proper Job

Proper Job pump clip.After much over-thinking, we decided that we wanted to recognise a beer from one of our local breweries, of which we have drunk several pints every week, usually at the Yacht Inn in Penzance, and which consistently delighted us — that is, made us say ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Ah!’ The peachy, pithy, juicy aroma gets us every time, laid over a clean, fresh-tasting beer with no rough-edges at all. Through compromise rather than design, it’s been an American-style IPA at session strength for some years, which is now apparently all the rage. We expect to drink lots more of it in 2015.

Best UK Keg Beer: Brew By Numbers Cucumber & Juniper Saison

Brew by Numbers Cucumber and Juniper Saison.At first, we struggled to think of any keg beers we’d drunk often enough to form a strong opinion — we dabbled with a lot of one-off glasses in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol and London, but didn’t go back for seconds of many or any. Then we recalled this beer which we enjoyed back in June and liked enough to seek out for a second session. A gimmicky beer from a brewery whose beers we don’t find universally brilliant, it nonetheless knocked us for six — the beer equivalent of a classic ‘fruit cup’. (We have also found it good in bottles, but not as good as from the keg.)

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Thornbridge Tzara

Thornbridge beer bottle caps.The most convincing Kölsch you’ll taste outside Cologne and, debates over style and stylistic sub-divisions aside, one of the best lager beers around. The most impressive thing about it is the malt character — solid enough to chew on. Not flashy but classy, and a real demonstration of brewing skill. (Here’s what we said back in February.)

Beer history

Golden Pint Awards 1993

By 1993, Boak & Bailey’s beer newsletter was no longer a few stapled sheets.


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.

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B&B’s Golden Pints 2013


It’s that reflective time of year again when we try to remember a beer we drank in January.

When we forget about a great pub we visited in March. When whatever we say will make someone angry. When we offend person X by ranking person Y above them.

But it isn’t about us. It’s about the consensus that emerges from fifty such posts across the blogoshire. With that in mind, here are our few drops in the ocean.

(With thanks, as ever, to Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg for organising.)

Best UK Cask Beer

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:

  • 1st place: St Austell Proper Job
  • 2nd place: Oakham Citra
  • 3rd place: PZBC Potion 9

Golden Pints 2012


Our contribution to the annual blogging jamboree masterminded by Beer Reviews Andy and Mark Dredge.

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.)

Best Pumpclip or Label.

This one for Tap East Kellerman because that’s Boak’s little brother on it, as depicted by Philippe Fenner. (Aww…)

Best UK Brewery.

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!)

Beer Festival of the Year.

The St Austell Celtic Beer Festival had an exciting beer list and a buzzing atmosphere, so let’s say that. (Disclosure!)

Supermarket of the Year.

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.)

Best Beer Book or Magazine.

Pete Brown’s Shakespeare’s Local. It’s not a list of beers we have to try; it’s not a beginners guide; and it made us laugh out loud more than once.

Best Beer Blog or Website.

Martyn ‘Zythophile’ Cornell’s blog has it — rigorous, compelling and readable. (To note, though: the first blogs we look at every day, in alphabetical order, are A Good Beer Blog, Tandleman and The Beer Nut.)

Best Beer Twitterer.

Joe Stange, aka The Thirsty Pilgrim. We retweet, or want to retweet, almost everything he has to say. He’s not prolific, but it’s all good stuff.

In 2013 We’d Most Like To…

Get ourselves up north on a grand beery tour, especially Sheffield.

Open category: best really old book.

Richard Boston’s Beer and Skittles (1976) should be on every beer geek’s bookshelf.