Pfffffffffft….that’s the sound of the Keg of my life gradually being degassed by an incompetent, yet Benevolent Barman/Supreme Being. It doesn’t seem like a year’s passed since last year’s nominations, but here we are, and here are my choices.
Best UK Cask Beer – I’m conscious that I’ve drunk a lot less Cask this year, for reasons not clear, but certainly not because there isnt plenty of good Cask beer around. Wylam’s Double Jakehead was a special treat, but as I only had a couple of thirds I can’t rank it as the best, same with Weird Beard/Brodie’s Weird Brodmance. So, I’ll pick Hawkshead IPA, which really sang on Cask and Keg.
Best UK Keg Beer – Multiple contenders for this one. Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit? Siren Pompelmocello? Pretty much anything from Buxton could be on here. I’m going to nominate a local, sessionable Keg Beer that I’ve had regularly over the last year and that has got better and better – Northern Monk Faith.
Best UK Bottled Beer – Most of my Beer consumption is still from Bottles, so this is the most difficult category for me to pick a nominee, but I’d pick the enjoyable oddness of Siren’s Life is a Peach and it’s chunky Peach funk. Best range of Bottles this year must go to Mad Hatter who seemed to have something new and wonderful released every other week. One highlight for me was their Sorachi Face Hugger. Cloudwater’s DIPA was also a nugget in the murk of this years hyped Double and Triple IPA releases.
Best UK Canned Beer – My runner up is Magic Rock Cannonball. Given the time since it was last available in Bottles it was bound to be eagerly anticipated and didn’t disappoint. Winning nominee however goes to Vocation’s Life and Death – which is another high quality IPA, possibly not quite as refined as Cannonball, but Vocation seemed to come out of nowhere, and I was stunned by just how good this and their whole range was. Rooster’s range of cans have also been a mainstay of my Beer shopping, Fort Smith in particular.
Best Overseas Draught – Didn’t drink a lot of overseas beers outside of Beer Festivals, so i’ll nominate Galway Bay’s Of Foam and Fury. Possibly the best DIPA I’ve had this year, and really looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer next year. The Tuatara Sauvinova I had at Leeds International Beer Fest also stands out, plus the NZ Beer Collective are all bloody nice blokes too.
Best Overseas Bottled Beer – Attended quite a few bottle shares this year, and the stand out Beer of them all was Mikkeller’s Nelson Sauvignon Riesling BA, but again as I only had a relatively small amount I’ll nominate Saison Dupont, which never changes for the worse.
Best Overseas Canned Beer – Due to the proliferation of UK Canned Beer this year, I didn’t really have many, so Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin is one of the highlights for this category, but I’ll go for Westbrook’s Gose, which was fantastic and also really well priced.
Best Collaboration Brew – Undoubtedly, my favourite was Weird Beard/Brodie’s Weird Brodmance collaboration. Thick and rich, this was a really memorable Beer that I wish I’d bought more of.
Best Overall Beer – Some things don’t change, and Magic Rock’s High Wire is still floating my boat. If they stopped making it, I’d probably choose Rooster’s Fort Smith.
Best Branding – Magic Rock’s cans are a fantastic example of creative can design. Vocation’s logo and continuity also appealed to me.
Best Pump Clip – Northern Monk for their oversized dominant discs that seem as big as 7-inch singles. Could eat a good meal off one of those…
Best Bottle Label – Anything by Omnipollo or Cloudwater, the former for an inventive yet identifiable series, and Cloudwater for getting local artists on board with their seasonal concepts.
Best UK Brewery – Far too many factors to consider when choosing a single nominee for this category, so I’m going to cop out and pick Brewdog. Ask anyone from abroad who knows Beer to name the first UK Craft Brewery that comes into their mind, and it’ll probably be Brewdog. Love or hate them, they get things done and achieve what they set out to do, or they adapt.
Best Overseas Brewery – Following on from the logic in my last answer, I’d say Lagunitas, but IPA aside I don’t really drink much of their Beer, so I’ll say Omnipollo, as they’ve built on their already great reputation with further collaborations with UK Breweries – see also, To Øl.
Best New Brewery Opening 2015 – Not sure if they actually opened in 2015, but Chorlton Brewery have been my favourite ‘new’ Brewery of the year. Amarillo, Yakima, Citra…you name it, they’ve got a Sour for it. Looking forward to cans from them shortly too.
Best Pub/Bar of the Year – I really enjoyed my extended visits to Buxton Tap House this year, but I’m going to give the nod to Magic Rock Tap because it’s nearer.
Best New Pub/Bar of the Year – For bringing great Beer to the otherwise mostly crappy Call Lane, I’ll nominate The Black Swan in Leeds. Great pizza downstairs and a excellent Restaurant upstairs too.
Beer Festival of the Year – Having had a ball at this year’s Leeds International Beer Festival, its hard for me to pick anything else, although my first visit to Indy Man Beer Con was fantastic.
Supermarket of the Year – if I lived 10 miles closer, I’d pick Booths, but its too far for a regular visit. Morrisons have upped their game recently, and although there’s nothing quite revelatory on the shelves, I’ll usually pick something up for a Sunday swill.
Independent Retailer of the Year – Absolutely spoilt for choice with this category, so to avoid picking between my regulars – Raynville Superstore, Little Leeds Beer House, Tall Boys, Beer Ritz and BierHuis, I’m going to go for Beermoth in Manchester, who stock stuff that I’ve not seen anywhere else and who are opening their own Beer Café soon.
Online Retailer of the Year – I don’t do a lot of online Beer shopping, but Beer Merchants have a wide range and a user-friendly website.
Best Beer Book or Magazine – Original Gravity – free, informative and well designed. What more could you ask for.
Best Beer Blog or Website – Repeating myself from last year here, but Boak and Bailey’s site is a treasure trove, covering all Beer related interests.
Simon Johnson award for Social Media – I’m going to combine this category with Podcasting and Vlogging, not only because the Beer O’Clock Show and Hopzine guys are passionate and dedicated to their pursuits, but also because they generate their audiences through Twitter and engage their listeners/viewers. Equally deserving of nomination in this category.
Best Brewery Website/Social Media – I’m going to go for Chorlton Brewery, as they put a lot of effort into chatting with drinkers and fellow Brewers and explaining processes that I’ve got zero knowledge of.