One of my favourite places to drink this year has been the new Moor tap room. It was here I probably drank most of my cask offerings (not bad considering I'm not often in Bristol!) and it was here I had my favourite cask beer of the year. B-Moor is punny continuation of their porter Amoor with the distinctive blueberry, jammy notes from mosaic. Delicious and spot on carbonation. Sloe walker on cask also very interesting.
Although I try not to list limited beers as winners (how cn others try them if so?) I need to make an exception for Beavertown/Prairie Barrel Aged 'Spresso. On draught at ABV and like drinking a tiramisu, especially with added ice-cream float!
Hands-down the highest rated new beer this year was Cloudwater DIPA. After a somewhat shaky start they really nailed their beers with the DIPA being the pinnacle, clean malt bill, fresh and juicy hops and barely a hint of its 9% ABV. A recent revisit has confirmed its holding up well. Cloudwater don't intend to rebrew any of their beers, but am hoping they make an exception for this.
Others worth of mention are Brewdog Born to Die & Beavertown Power of The Voodoo, both of which I hope will continue as occasional brews.
I've had a few this year, these by their very nature are usually one offs. I have enjoyed the dinner for.. range from Elusive/Siren and the aforementioned 'Spresso but my favourite has to be Marble Howgate and Kemp. Fantastic news that JK will be commencing as head brewer there from next year.
There can only be one winner here, excellent on both keg and bottle, with the November batch being particularly superlative. I make no apologies that my favourite UK beer is still Buxton Axe Edge.
Logic follows that the brewer of my favourite beer would be a shoo in for brewer of the year and indeed Buxton has released a continued range of interesting beers this year (though a few I've not been mad keen on). I'm going to jointly award the crown to Beavertown however as I've not had a bad beer from them this year, and gamma ray/neck oil in cans has been a welcome hoppy reprieve on numerous occasions! Honourable mention to Brew By Numbers for producing excellent beers across all manner of styles (though was't as keen on their BA iterations of Gyle 100 unfortunately...).
Best Oveseas Draught
There's a beer I drank four times in three days, each time bringing delight to my mouth. Gorgeous in colour, tart with a heap of raspberries - Girardin Kriekenlambic was that beer. Highly recommended and cheers to Ian for the recommendation of where to find it!(see below). Was also v impressed by Pohjalla on draught at Indyman - ones to watch!
Best Overseas Bottle/ Can
My favourite bottle this year was a 2011 vintage of Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Stout, but since that's not available any more my winner is instead Ballast Point Dorado. I don't care who owns it, the beer is excellent and I hope it remains so. I'm just disappointed it may be harderto track their stuff down in the UK for a while now Brewdog have ceased importing them. Mikkeller's Nelson Sauvignon also really impressed though value-wise its lower in the ranking.
Best Overseas Brewery
I ummed and ahhed about this, there are a few contenders such as Stone and Boon but in terms of consistency across a wide range and drinkability this year's award goes to De La Senne. I was also impressed by the few I tried from Amager; if I'd had a few more they'd certainly be in contention.
Best Overseas Bar
To drink my girardin kriekenlambic four times I visited the same bar; belle epoque wall tat, grafittied terrace, various seating areas, free nibbles and a well chosen beer list this award goes to Fleur En Papier Doree. I'll definitely be back.
Best Brewery Opening
This ones a little harder my Ireland winner Boundary is definitely a contender as is Manchester buzz-generator Cloudwater but I'm actually giving the crown this year to Left Handed Giant who have gone from strength to strength with a decent core range and some excellent specials. Glad they're now bottling too; will certainly be drinking some this Christmas!
Alongside the Moor brewing tap room, the places I've visited most this year are Small Bar the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer. Both have a fantastic range of beer, TFRNV has great food, Small Bar has comfy chairs and a bookshelf. Joint award to these two this year! Bag O'Nails continues to hold a special place in my heart replete with cantankerous landlord & many cats.
Best New pub/bar
I enjoy the Moor Brewery Tap but was also really impressed with attention to detail at St Andrews Brewing Co Tap, great guest beers, a fab range of spirits and plenty of care taken on garnishes. Plus good value and filling grub and a bottle fridge rammed full.
Best Food and Beer
More best food with tasty beer alongside this year it has to go to Chomp for fantastic burgers and beer from Wiper & True.
I didn't make it to as many festivals as I would have liked this year but I did finally make it to IMBC which was enjoyable if hectic and too short. However its the Belfast based festival inspired by it that I most enjoyed (working as bar manager for all 3 sessions). Congrats to Matt, Darren, Felicia and Michael the team behind ABV, best festival in the UK, fab venue, excellent food choices, interesting tastings and fantastic beer range, heres to 2016!
As always there are a number of contenders, but for putting the "can" in canvas the award has to go to Beavertown, great work Nick! I particularly liked the shiny stickers on the Phantoms and Bone King which now adorn my chromebook. I also love the bespoke paintings inspired by Boundary's beers; so they're my runner up!
Best Book/ Magazine
We've really gotten to a great time for Drinks coverage in print media with Hot Rum Cow, Hops and Barley, Ferment and Beer to name but a few but I think my favourite is informative & enthusiastic whilst remaining current - Original Gravity.
I've used fewer retailers this year, but the one that continues to impress is Eebria... after all - anyone who can facilitate getting my favourite beer delivered to my door within a few days must be on to a good thing.
I was really impressed by the depth and breadth of beers in Manchetser's Beer Moth but as I didn't buy any I can't really nominate them! (will have to take a suitcsase to Indyman next year!) One new opening I did really like was the tiny Brew off St Nicholas Market in Bristol, select but interesting range, lots of local stuff, decent tunes and a home-brew corner.
I've not added many blogs to my roll this year, with a number of old favourites falling by the wayside. Boak & Bailey still continue to churn out a variety of interesting stuff but this year the award goes to the (old)newcomer- Stonch (or more specifically the collective voice behind the blog). I enjoy the travelogues, enjoyment of beer, cantankerousness, digging, weekly round-ups and everything in between. The comments are usually well attended and often spark a slew of spin-off posts. There have been rumours of winding down again - please don't.
Simon Johnson Award
Always bang on with the wry humour and dubious puns and featuring on my blog a few times this year this has to go to Twatty Beer Doodles.