Golden Pints 2010 Part 2

19 01 2011

After some subtle persuasion from KC, I had been asked to break my vow of silent contribution and nominate my belated Golden Pints Awards. So here we go

Best Draft UK Beer: Some excellent ales in 2010 the umptious Ascot Anastasia Imperial Stout, the vanilla based Yorkshire Dales Stout Of This World, the complete flavor surprise of Thornbridge Colorado Red and the gorgeous Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30. But in the end my vote goes to the excellent Highland Orkney Porter. Consistently excellent and comforting.

Best UK bottle Beer: Again lots of contenders. Scottish beers though dominate Williams Bros Midnight Sun, Traquir 2010, Harviestoun Ola Dubh 40 and Orkney Dark Island Reserve. They are all distinct and excellent, But for its uniqueness, consistency and what would always be my first Beer swap ale, the sublime Durham Temptation.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: A couple of German Draught Ales were the most memorable. At The National Winter Ales Festival, the smokey bacon crisp tasting  Schlenkerla Eisbock was a great find. Equally at the Brandling Arms Octoberfest, the recommendation of  Marzen Rauchbier brought an ale with a distinct kipper smell and deep smokey taste. It was surprisingly good.

Best Overseas Bottled beer: Some great strong dark beers. The Imperial Porters/Stouts of Flying Dog Gonzo and Left Handed were both amazing. But two presents take the top two places. In second, the excellent Mill St Coffee Porter from Canada and first, Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch, a stunning beer full of flavor and balance.

Best Overall Ale: Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch

Best Pumpclip or Label: Choice between the funny/clever or the iconic/business. On one side I love the pumpclips of Blue Monkey. The Che Guevera influenced Guerilla and the clever 99 red Baboons are distinctive and fun. On the other side, the distinct pumpclips for Yorkshire Dales Brewery are almost iconic art deco with a great use of colours showing beers of real quality. Prize goes to Yorkshire Dales.

Best UK brewery: Almost too hard to call. First of all, the best NE brewery would go to Bull Lane, arguably had best ales at both Leeds and Newcastle beer festivals. Summer Wine Brewery, Thornbridge and Yorkshire Dales continued to push the boundaries and produce excellent ales. But for real consistency of great beer and for making an IPA that I actually like, it needs to go to Highland Brewery.

Overseas brewery: Flying Dog gets my vote. Gonzo Imperial Porter was far too easy drinking & dogtoberfest, the maltiest beer I had this year.

Pub/bar of year: Outside the area it would be Marble Arch or North Bar. In Newcastle, Bacchus (8 course beer matches/great beer), Free Trade (getting better all the time) & Cumberland Arms (my fab bizarre local). But vote goes to Newcastle Arms, great bar staff, homely atmosphere & excellent beer festivals.

Best Festival: still adore Newcastle beer fest (especially all day Thursday). Leeds continues to be one of the most friendly. National Winter was an experience whilst Scottish national always has great beer. But for it’s uniqueness, atmosphere, location & excellent beer (despite polycarbonate glasses) it has to be York.

Supermarket: Tesco Online when ordering only in Scotland. Midnight Sun, Black Gold and Glencoe Stout. Enough said

Independent retailer: Beeritz was excellent, but for accessibility and constant improvement, Rehills Deli in Jesmond

Online retailer: don’t buy online

Beer book or magazine: Cheers

Best beer blog or website: Phils Newcastle Real Ale Listing. Indispensable resource for working out what/where you want to drink. Also useful for remembering what you had last night

Best beer twitterer: too difficult to call

Best Brewery OnlineBrewdog. Part interesting information part episode of the Young Ones

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Agree with my esteemed colleague. Cranachan and Highland’s Orkney Porter at a food/beer matching event at the Bacchus was unbelievably good.

In 2011 I’d Most Like To…: write something on this blog… get in, one New Year Resolution down!

HH

*Good work HH…keep ’em coming.…KC

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The Winner Takes It All…Then Gives It Away

18 01 2011

Yesterday I was lucky enough to win a little spot prize from those purveyors of mighty fine ales the Dark Star Brewing Co. via their Twitter feed.  All I had to do was reply to their tweet to receive a T-shirt so I quickly typed out a witty yet poetic response… ‘bo’.  Yep, my total lack of digital dexterity certainly shone through on that one.  However all was not lost as James messaged me to say he had taken pity on my inadequacies and was going to send me the agreed T-shirt…I’d won!

All James needed to know was my size and address and said wondrous garment would be heading its way up to the North East.  At this point I remembered a point from the evenings CAMRA branch meeting asking for beer related paraphernalia (clothing, glasses, books etc) to be donated to raise funds for this year’s chosen Newcastle Beer Festival charity the Peoples Kitchen and so I said any size would do as I would be donating it.  James was straight back saying that he would throw in a few more to help the cause so I would just like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks to Dark Star for such a nice gesture.  Cheers guys!

PS …and at the risk of being a little bit cheeky if any other breweries out there would like to make a small donation to a very worthy cause please drop me a line and I’ll make sure it gets to the relevant people.  Thanks.





CAMRA Eye

18 01 2011

I attended my first CAMRA branch meeting yesterday despite having been a member of several years.  I went along with my sister, Cider Tart Lambda, who is the branch Cider & Perry officer and Cider Tart Gamma who is my better half.  I’d never been to a meeting before for a number of reasons; I’ve never felt the urge to become actively involved beyond handing over my hard earned cash or to become embroiled in the perceived, and actual, petty politics that always rears its head in any organisation.

But anyway I went along to have a nosey and also because the meeting was being held in Gateshead’s recently refurbished Central Bar which I had enjoyed on previous visits.   I was expecting maybe 20-30 diehards to be in attendance but there were easily double that number and we had to blag some stools from an adjoining room in order for the Tarts to sit down.  I recognised perhaps 80% of those present although a few I hadn’t previously realised were branch members.  Plenty of younger (30’s and lower) folk were present which, I guess, also surprised me although I can’t rightly say why.

Was there any evidence of the previously mentioned politics? Sure, but it rather reminded of a school yard version of PMQ’s.  A bit of name calling, giggly pointing and pantomime heckles which were all a bit sad and it certainly wouldn’t change my mind about getting involved.  However, in spite of all that the meeting was informative and a valuable source of news concerning up and coming events.  The pubs of the year were also announced for the local regions with no changes from last year noted which means the Bacchus remains Tyneside’s POTY (with an increased majority – congratulations Andy).  Not a bad choice but in my opinion there are better out there (sorry Andy).

The format of the meeting was a little strange in that there was no open discussion allowed which the chairman later explained to me is done to ensure that meetings don’t just turn into a protracted knockabout between 50 people.  I’m not sure how this then enables members to actively engage in policy formation but perhaps the whole thing will become clearer if I attend subsequent meetings.  And there is the question; will I attend any further meetings? I think I probably will although I don’t think I would go out of my way to make sure I get to them.  I found some of it quite interesting and some of it quite depressing but I’m long enough in the tooth not to judge things totally on first impressions even if they are usually right.

For the record I had two pints through the night.  First up was Allendale Wagtail which I had not come across before and to be honest I wish I hadn’t.  It was a flat, lifeless pint of brown nothingness which is a great shame as Allendale usually produce some cracking ales.  Next up I went for safety and a pint of Thornbridge Kipling my beer of the year 2010 and it was all I needed to erase memories of the brown muck preceding it.





Golden Pints 2010

13 01 2011

 

 

 

 

 

OK so I’m a bit late with this (started before Christmas, tidied up today) but, hey, I’ve had ‘things’ to do and it got here eventually didn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

Best UK Draught Beer: There have been a number of beers that have wowed me this year; Highland’s Orkney Porter was stunning in the Bacchus as was Yorkshire Dales Brewing Co’s St’Out of This World.  However, for opening my taste buds to the delights of ‘lighter’ beer the winner goes to Thornbridge Kipling.

Best UK Bottled Beer: I’ve been drinking more bottled beer than ever this year and certainly a more varied selection than usual and up until New Years Eve the winner was still going to be my old friend Traquair Jacobite Ale.  However, I had the pleasure of sharing one of my bottles of Orkney Dark Island Reserve (2008) with HH and was totally blown away by it, a stunning drink.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: County Durham Brewing – C’est What? Steve’s Dreaded Chocolate Orange Ale.  Despite the name this doesn’t come from just down the road, rather I enjoyed this during July’s trip to Toronto.  Brewed specifically for the basement bar C’est What? this was a lovely dark malty beer which was lifted from being Nutella infused coffee by the sharpness of the orange in the background to start with and then prominently in the finish which took it to another level.

Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Rogue Old Crustacean 1999.  Again from my Toronto trip and this time served as an accompaniment to my ice cream in Beer Bistro.  There were so many aromas coming at me from this that I ran out of adjectives and was severely worried it was going to be a total mess.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  A gorgeous Barley Wine full of tangy dried fruits (dates, prunes and cherries), caramel and a stunningly pithy bitterness which complemented the food perfectly.

Best Overall Beer: For just being so damned drinkable – Thornbridge Kipling.

Best Pumpclip or Label: I really like what the Yorkshire Dales Brewing Company have done with their clips and labels, instantly recognizable and stylish with the advantage of almost always signaling a great beer.

Best UK Brewery: I had a lot of thought on this and a number of changes to the name here but in the end because they consistently come up with great drinkable beers the winner is the Yorkshire Dales Brewing Company.  Honourable mentions go to Highland Brewery, Summer Wine Brewery, Thornbridge and Bull Lane who could all have been justifiable choices.

Best Overseas Brewery: For the great beer tasted, the friendliness of all the staff and a great brewery tour the winner goes to Mill Street Brewery, Toronto.

Pub/Bar of the Year: Loved Smokeless Joe’s in Toronto for the company, the North Bar in Leeds for the drinks selection, the Cumberland Arms in Byker for being so welcoming, the Free Trade Inn again in Byker which has my all time favorite view but the winner is The Newcastle (Top) Arms…just because.

Beer Festival of the Year: Really enjoyed the National Winter Ale Festival in Manchester and on, a smaller level, regular festivals at the Newcastle Arms.

Supermarket of the Year: Meh!

Independent Retailer of the Year: Had fun rooting around Beer Ritz in Leeds and really wish I’d had more bag space but due to its closer proximity I’ll go for Rehill’s Deli in Jesmond which has a great selection of all types of booze…but no website unfortunately.

Online Retailer of the Year: Had great service from BeerMerchants, myBrewerytap and Ales by Mail this year with no problems and nothing but praise for all of them.

Best Beer Book or Magazine: Cheers has been a breath of fresh air in the North East and wipes the floor with the woeful local CAMRA effort.

Best Beer Blog or Website: Because it’s always handy to have an idea what may be waiting for you at the pub I always check Phil’s Newcastle Real Ale Listing.

Best Beer Twitterer: Enjoy all the banter so no particular favorites.

Best Brewery Online: Very rarely visit any to be honest.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Cranachan and Highland’s Orkney Porter at a food/beer matching event at the Bacchus.

In 2011 I’d Most Like To…: Find time to write more here…but not at the expense of drinking.

Open Category: I think I’ve said enough.





Local Beer Fest News – The Free Trade Inn Midwinter Beer Festival

13 01 2011

OK so the first local festival of the year takes place in what in my opinion is the most improved pub in the region, the Free Trade Inn.  The festival runs from the 27th of this month through to the 30th but some of the beers (marked) will be on earlier.  So, some of you may think the place needs a lick of paint but I call it character and it has it in abundance as well as a great selection of beer/cider and a view to die for.

Some cracking beers on the list, I’m particularly looking forward to the Odell, Orkney and SWB offerings and the Cider Tarts will have enough to keep them quiet for a while…well…OK nothing ever keeps a Cider Tart quiet.  Both HH and I will be down there on a least a couple of the days so say hello if you spot us.  The pub itself is easy enough to get to from the centre of Newcastle by jumping on a Yellow QuayLink bus which will drop you only 50 yards from the door.

Draught

Allgates, Green Bullett

Arran, Dark

Blue Monkey, Guerilla Stout

Boggart, Rum Porter

Bowland, Hen Harrier

Brewdog, Riptide *Available from Tues 25th

Darkstar, TBC

Durham, TBC

Durham, TBC

Fyne Ales, Jarl

Fyne Ales, Hurricane Jack

Mallinsons, Motueka

Marble, Ginger

Marble, W90

Marston Moor, Implacable

Nelson, Loose Cannon

Orkney, Clootie Dumplin *Available from Tues 25th

Ossett, South Pacific IPA

Ossett, B2K

Rudgate, Northern Brewer

Salamander, Cloak and Dagger

Salamander, Slapstick

Stables, Monboucher Mild

Summer Wine, Boreas

Summer Wine, Heretic Imperial Black IPA

Titanic, Stout

Wansom, Millers Mirth

Wharfbank, Slinger

Wold Top, Against the Grain * Gluten Free Beer

Wold Top, Dawn Of Time

Cider

Westons, Organic Vintage

Westons, Winter Twist

Millwhites, Single Organic

Millwhites, Novo Pyrus

Millwhites, Pear Lite

Millwhites, Equinox

Mr Whiteheads, TBC

Mr Whiteheads, TBC

Broadoak, Perry

Broadoak, Bristol Port

Broadoak, Moonshine

Orchard Pig, Hot Mulled Cider

Guest Draught Bar

Erdinger, Urweisse

De Koninck, Winter De Koninck

Sierra Nevada, Celebration

Sierra Nevada, Northern Harvest

Sierra Nevada, Old Chico Crystal Wheat

Sierra Nevada, Brown Ales

Sierra Nevada, Porter

Odell, IPA