2018 felt like a year where I unconsciously took a slight step back from the sometimes relentless stream of new beers and events, and focused on other things – there was still plenty of quality beer involved but it wasn’t a central focus of my time. A stinkingly hot summer and World Cup brought bargain, if flawed, lagers to the fore, and simple, clean and crisp beers featured prominently in my beer shop this year.
Best UK Cask Beer – One of the best beers on cask this year was one of the first I had this year. Nomadic Beers’ Freyja was a excellent Cherry Stout and many more delicious pints from Nomadic means they are also getting my nomination for Best New Local Brewery.
Best UK Keg Beer – A beer I returned to whenever I saw it was Northern Monk’s Striding Edge – a 3% Pale that packed in loads of hoppy bitterness in a session-friendly format.
Best UK Bottled Beer and Best Overall Beer of the Year – Burning Sky’s Coolship #1 was undoubtedly my most memorable beer of the year. As good as any Lambic I’ve tasted, and with other highlights such as Recusant, Sauvin Brut and Typically English Day, Burning Sky also win my Best UK Brewery award.
Best UK Canned Beer – North Brewing Co could have won this category many times over, but my favourite of a varied bunch was Kurious Oranj. Plus it tips the nod to the Fall, which gets it bonus points. Honourable mentions to Cloudwater’s Baltic Porter and Wilde Child’s Opaque Reality.
Best New UK Brewery – Donzoko win this, firstly for creating a superb Helles, but also for their exceptionally
tidy looking cans. Couldn’t get enough Helles this year and hoping to get much more in 2019.
Best Overseas Brewery – Brasserie De La Senne win this category hands down – Bruxellensis was in my top 5 beers of the year, and alongside Tara’s Boulba, Stouterik and Brusseleir, their beers are always in my fridge ready to pop.
Best Overseas Draught – Brouwerij De Ranke’s XX Bitter was a fantastic choice by Jim to source a cask of for this year’s Independent Salford Beer Festival. This beer was one of myriad of reasons why the festival also wins Beer Festival of the Year. I’ve been to plenty of great events this year, but the spirit, thoughtfulness and dedication that went into ISBF was astonishing.
A short but sweet selection for this year then, but plenty of quality nonetheless.