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Golden Pints 2018

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.

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#12BeersofXmas – Day 12 – New Rose Saison

Bleurgh. Last night’s plan was to pick a beer from the excellent fridges of Friends of Ham in Leeds, tap a few thoughts into my notes and do a full blog this morning. While I certainly had more than a few good beers, I can’t remember much about them, certainly not enough for a post. 

Anyway, no post would have been written as I was far too tired and hungover to lift my phone this morning, let alone do some thinking. 

Now, I’ve settled down on the sofa, and almost feel normal again post-Chinese takeaway and many pints of Squash, so we have both cracked open a restorative Saison from Time and Tide Brewing. 

Both cans are well filled and open with a slight gush, but they pour smoothly enough and settle well. As the name suggests, there are Rose petals used in the brew and there is a lingering floral sweetness that isn’t overcharged. There’s not much of the usual dry, musty characteristics I’d expect from a classic Saison, and I’ve cackhandely poured this so there’s a fair bit of suspended yeast too, but neither of those minor quibbles detract from my enjoyment of a supremely refreshing beer. 
Becky’s not long woken up from a power doze, so let see if this has revived her. ‘I am seriously suffering today so I’ll keep my offering short. Saison is one of my favourite styles of beer and this is a really good one. One of my favourite bits about going down to Kent is how readily available Time and Tide beers are because I’m yet to have a bad one. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the name of this beer but the floral element is really subtle. It’s a lovely easy drink and I can recommend it as hair of the dog!’

Following last night, I needed something like this to bring me round, and a more complex beer would have been wasted on me today. Time and Tide had a great 2016 too, and are one to watch this year as well. 

I hope you’re all having a great 2017 so far, and if not, I hope you’ve got something good in the fridge to help ease you in.

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#12BeersofXmas – Day 11 – Sister Agnes


It’s been a big year for Marble Brewery, four great beers launched under their ‘Metal Series’, the old favourites largely revitalised, and a series of limited, aged beers released to the sound of beer geek oohs and aahs.

Your Betrayal, a Pilsner, was one of my beers of the year, and therefore I wanted to include Marble in my #12Beers as a small hat tip to their work in 2016. I have chosen Sister Agnes, an old ale, for us to try and other than what’s on the label, I can’t really find too much information about it.

The old ale base has had Morello cherries added to it, as well as Brettanomyces yeast. The name is a nod to The Mysteries of Udolpho, a gothic romance in which Sister Agnes is a murderous mistress of a nobleman condemned to a life in the convent. Valancourt, one of Marble’s other aged releases is also named after another character. Obviously the Brewers are into the dark, mysterious and supernatural. 

Sister Agnes is defintely dark, with ruby tints. The Brett adds a layer of mystery to the aroma, but there isn’t a tangy funk to the beer as a result. The cherries are to the fore, with loads of earthy fruit flavours, and I also get almonds and a very dry, oaky finish. In a lot of ways, Sister Agnes is similar to last night’s Pannepot Reserva, but younger maybe, with fresher fruit flavours, but also with a few notches less volume to it. 

Becky enjoyed last night’s beer, how does she feel about tonight’s choice? ‘This time last year I would have taken a swig of this beer and said it was foul and wouldn’t have touched anymore. If I’m honest my first sip didn’t make me particularly want more but in the interests of the blog I persevered! It smells smoky which for me is one of the first signs that I won’t like a beer. My first taste reminded me of peanut brittle and the more I drank the more it felt like liquid Ferrero Rocher. The nutty taste was outstanding to me but looking at Gareth’s comments I can also get the cherries too. It’s grown on me and like last night’s beer it’s reminded me that I need to be more adventurous and not just stick to what I know I’ll like!’

Tomorrow is the final night of this year’s #12Beers, and we’ll be celebrating the new year at Friends of Ham, so we may or may not blog tomorrow but we’ll definitely find some good beer to see in 2017. Have a good night!

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