Golden Pints 2011

31 12 2011

 

 

 

Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer: Tasted way too many good ones this year to make this an easy choice.  SWB Cohort, Magic Rock Curious NZ and Hardknott Vitesse Noir could all have justifiably snatched the crown but this year’s winner is Tyne Bank’s Southern Star.  It’s great to see a local brewery producing a beer of such outstanding quality.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Traquair Jacobite is still my all time favourite beer but the award this year goes to the flavour bomb that is Summer Wine Brewery’s Barista.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Odell IPA a great beer but lifted to award winner status by the company with whom I was drinking it.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: Orval.  Consistently divine.

Best Overall Beer:  The aforementioned Traquair Jacobite.  Everyone should have a comfort beer that keeps them warm, safe and grounded, a best friend in a bottle.   This is mine.

Best Pumpclip or Label:  Last year’s winner, The Yorkshire Dales Brewing Company, quite rightly holds on to their crown.  Honourable mentions must go to Magic Rock and Kernel.

Best UK Brewery:  Summer Wine Brewery.  Top beer, produced by top blokes.  What more could you ask for?

Best Overseas Brewery:  Orval.  See above.

Pub/Bar of the Year: Enjoyed drinking in many fine establishments this year, in particular the Newcastle Arms, the Bacchus and Mr Foleys.  However, this year the Free Trade Inn stands head and shoulders above all others.  A view to die for, matched only by its consistently excellent beer selection and ambience.

Beer Festival of the Year:  Stretching the category a little here, the award goes to Twissup Newcastle.  A true festival of beer worship, delivering top rated pubs, beer and company.

Supermarket:  Waitrose for keeping me supplied with the sadly “soon to be no more” Durham Benedictus.  Otherwise, Meh!

Independent Retailer: Joint winners in the form of Copper’s 8 ‘til 8 and Rehill’s.  However, both should apparently be punished for adding to @CiderTart_G’s stress levels as we attempt to “find somewhere to put all the damned stuff.”

Online Beer Retailer:  Not bought as much online this year due to the excellence of those establishments listed in the category above.  We do have a winner though.  I received great, prompt service from Beer Ritz when used recently and will definitely be using them again.

Best Beer Book/Magazine:  Hopagandamag, fun to contribute to, fun to read.  Looking forward to some no holds barred issues next year.

Best Beer Blog/Website: For the obvious, no nonsense joy he exudes when he writes about beer, the people who drink it and the places in which it is drunk, the winner is the Reluctant Scooper.

Best Beer Twitterer:  Not an individual but a community.  The award goes to all the beery twitterers of the North East.  Sharing the love.

Best Online Brewery Presence:  Summer Wine Brewery.  Like their beer, never dull.

Food and Beer Pairing:  A piping hot Gregg’s Seasonal Pasty, chunks of gorgeous cheese and a 1/3 of Vitesse Noir.  All devoured in glorious sunshine outside the Free Trade Inn during Twissup.  Thanks to @SamtheTree and @DrinkMatch for the food and @HardknottDave for the beer.

In 2012 I’d Most Like To: Enjoy myself…not bothered how that is achieved.

Open Category:  Thanks to all the people I have met, chatted to and got pissed with this year.  Without you beer is pointless.

KC

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Coppa del Mondo Birra Lotteria

23 08 2010

Well I haven’t visited here for a while, or much this year for that matter.  For that you can blame/thank the current inequality in my work life balance and the fact that when I’m not tied to my desk at work the good lady wife actually wants to spend that time with me.  I have, however, been maintaining a limited presence on Twitter and it was through this medium that World Cup Beersweep (WCBS) came to my attention.

WCBS was a cunning ploy by the great minds behind beer swap, Mark and Andy, to get us all drinking something different, or not, over the summer.  The premise was a simple one, buy a beer from the team you were drawn with, blog about it before the final and, if your team won, you would be in line for a prize from the nice people at myBrewerytap, Adnams, Highland Brewery and Ales By Mail.  32 participants were sought to take part in the draw and this soon grew to 64, meaning two draws, with interest really high.  This I could not resist.  As you may have noticed 2 sentences ago I made mention of the fact that this should have been posted prior to the final and those of you on the ball will also note we are now approaching the arse end of August.  I’m claiming inspiration for my poor performance in this matter from the team with which I was drawn.

Pre draw I was torn between wanting an easy time of it (beer wise) with an England or Germany and the lure of the chase in trying to find something exotic from North Korea or Honduras.  To be honest I wasn’t really bothered about winning the thing, though it would have been nice, I really just wanted an excuse to try something different.  In the end I was paired with Italy, who I had going out in the group stages in my prediction league at work, and with a sudden jolt realised I knew next to nothing about the beers of one of our European neighbours.  OK, I’d tasted Peroni Red and Blue before, usually accompanied by a pizza, but there had to be more to Italian beer than those, surely?

Within minutes of tweeting the result of my draw a number of helpful chaps and chapettes started to fire exotic names off at me as if I should have known all along about the burgeoning Italian craft beer scene.  But, truth be told, I’m just a bairn when it comes to beer knowledge so I had to dutifully fire up Google and find out just what it was that had these people so excited.  I don’t know why I was surprised to find so many examples of Italian beer out there, but I was and it left me with another dilemma, just which of these beers that I knew nothing about should I buy and from where?

I tried the usual online suspects first, companies I’ve bought from in the past and had unfailingly good service from.  Whilst nearly all offered me something in the way of Italian beer I had, by now, decided that an education is not an education if you only read one book so what I needed was somewhere that could provide me with a veritable library of Italian beer.  My search eventually led me to Nifeislife.com where I was almost spoilt for choice and after much deliberation (not) I settled on the seven beers you see below.

I intended to base my selection on different beer styles but in the end just plumped for the bottles I liked the look of after deciding it was all guesswork anyway.  So what caught my eye then? Well in the end, a mere 3 days after placing my order, I was a proud owner of the following:

La Volpina Pale Ale Amarcord (500ml)

Tabachera Double Malt Beer Amarcord (500ml)

KETO Reporter Beer- Birra del Borgo (750ml)

Duchessa Beer – Birra del Borgo (750ml)

Re Ale Beer- Birra del Borgo (750ml)

Crocco Br`Hant Malt Beer (75cl)

Ninco Nanco Beer Br`Hant (75cl)

As you will note none of these came in an easy, knock it back in fifteen minutes, 33cl bottles.  Oh no, coming in at 50 and 75cl these were going to have to be treat with some respect.  My initial thought was to invite HH around and we could blast through them in a session making copious notes and taking plenty of photos.  In the end I have enjoyed each of the bottles individually; some whilst taking in the football others as I mindlessly surf/listen to music and some definitely more than others.  I have made notes on all of these but to go through them all would make this post really unwieldy and the links should tell you what you want to know and let’s face it the whole point of WCBS was to enjoy the journey as much as the beer.  Having said that there are a couple of points that I think bear mentioning, so here goes:

  • I disliked none of the beers, although the Reporter came close, which given the random nature with which they were chosen is something of a victory.
  • The Reporter was an experience.  The smell coming out of the newly opened bottle reminded all present of decaying faeces, which wasn’t the best of starts.  It smelt and tasted better after pouring but is perhaps the one I’d try again only if offered for gratis.
  • The La Volpina Pale Ale Amarcord was the closest in taste to a UK beer out of the 7.
  • I really liked the things they did with hops in the beers and coming from me that is praise indeed.
  • Italian Craft beer is far more entertaining and successful than their football team.

So there you go, my WCBS experience.  Despite the poor performance of the Italian team their craft brewers have salvaged the day for the nation.  All we need now is for these beauties to become more readily available but until then I can heartily recommend picking these up where you can.  You won’t be disappointed.

KC