Golden Pints 2015


Best UK Cask Beer
Winner: Bad Co – Comfortably Numb

Nothing has touched the experience of tasting a fresh cask at their pub, Blind Jacks in Knarsbourgh

UK Keg Beer
Winner: Siren / B Nektar – Uncle Zester
Runner up: Magic Rock Bearded Lady Dessert

Uncle Zester is one of the most unique “beers” I’ve had in years. Bearded Lady Dessert was a revelation. I love big sweet beers and I picked up a growler of it at one of the preview nights at the new tap room at the brewery.

Best UK Bottled Beer
Winner: Cloudwater – DIPA
Runner up: Brewdog – Born to Die 27/11/15

A very close run thing, probably the best two British brewed IPAs ever. Cloudwater just piped those dandy brew punks to the post.

Best UK Canned Beer
Winner: Vocation – Life and Death IPA

Consistent, modern and blooming lovely. Not far off “Pliny good”

Best Overseas Draught
Winner: Founders – Breakfast Stout
Runner up: Amager – Todd the Axeman

Still one of my favourite beers and whenever I’ve seen it on keg I’ve attempted to bath in it.

2015 saw the beginning of a passionate love affair…with Amager Bryghus. This may not be their best but its one I’ve kept going back to (on bottle) but drinking this on keg at The Fermentoren in Copenhagen was stunning.

Best Overseas Bottled Beer
Winner: Omnipollo BA Agamemnon
Runner up: Amager Bryghus Batch 1000

I love Omnipollo’s creativity and 90% of the time they hit the mark. The barrel aged version of their Maple Imperial stout became a new top 5 beer for me. Amager’s Batch 1000 is probably the best European IPA I’ve ever had, their range of collaboration brewed IPAs are hard to beat.

Best Overseas Canned Beer
Winner: Pizza Port – Kook DIPA

Not actually had many canned beers from overseas and this it a very late addition that I only drank this past Friday. Despite being canned in late July it was bulging at its aluminum seams with bright hop flavour.

Best collaboration brew
Winner: Siren / B Nektar – Uncle Zester

I found it hard to not mention multiple Amager/US brewery’s collabs but as stated above this was just so different and perfectly done.

Best Overall Beer
Winner: Cloudwater – DIPA

The best British brewed IPA ever!

Best Branding
Winner: Omnipollo
Runner up: Cloudwater

Karl Grandin’s work compliments the exciting modern beer than Henok creates. Bold, simple and confidant. I love Cloudwater’s approach to branding, a simple and refined piece of design that allows the changing artwork to shine. Also my friend Hali did their Summer range.

Best Pumpclip
Winner: Cloudwater DIPA

Foil blocking…enough to make me go weak at the knees.

Best Bottle Label
Winner: Brewdog – Hinterland

I love Johanna Basford’s elegant inked lines. Elaborate, detailed and beautiful.

Best UK Brewery

This is a tricky one. Cloudwater have made some amazing beers, Magic Rock have created some stunning collabs this year, Brewdog have made some of the biggest beery highlights for me this year but then Beavertown’s overall performance along with a few new creations. What about Buxton? Siren? Aaaaaargh!

I’m going to say Beavertown.

Best Overseas Brewery
Winner: Omnipollo
Runner up: Amager Bryghus

I’ve already heaped praise on both these breweries. Well done Europe!

Pub/Bar of the Year
Winner: WarPigs (Copenhagen)

During our holiday in Copenhagen in April we visited this Mikkeller/Three Floyds brewpub a number of times I enjoyed every moment. Great beer, tasty meat and Mikkel was even hanging about. Loved it, one of my most memorable beer drinking experiences ever.

Best New Brewery Opening 2015
Winner: Cloudwater
Runner up: Vocation

Vocation’s Life and Death has become my “go to” beer, brilliant stuff. Cloudwater, cool, approachable, creative, original.

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2015
Winner: Magic Rock Tap

The guys at Magic Rock have managed to transplant a little piece of the West Coast of the states into an industrial unit in West Yorkshire. Authentic and fun.

Beer Festival of the Year
Winner: Leeds International Beer Festival

Indy Man is the WrestleMainia of beer fests but Leeds International I think beat them this year with great diversity and a massive range. Plus I had a beer on tap (Oh I had one on at Indy Man too didn’t I….*pats self on back*

Supermarket of the Year

Bloody hell, have you seen their range? Have you seen the prices?

Independent Retailer of the Year
Winner: The Triangle (Shipley)
Runner up: Little Leeds Beer House

My friendly neighborhood bottle shop, love those guys. No other bottle shop involves itself with the wider beer scene than “Little Leeds”. An evolving range that is always interesting

Online Retailer of the Year
Winner: Brewdog

I’ve probably bought more beer online from Brewdog than any other shop weather it’s their own brews or the great selection of guests.

Best Beer Book or Magazine
Winner: Hop & Barley

A beautifully designed magazine, “white space” makes my heart flutter.

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Winner: @twattybeer

AKA Broadford Brewer, AKA Dave Bishop. Pen and paper Comedy gold.

Best Beer Blog or Website
Winner: Beer O’Clock Show

The Beer O’Clock Show podcast is a ray of sunshine on my Monday morning commutes. I love Steve and Mark’s dynamic, funny, enthusiastic and honest. Great interview, banter and guests. The highlight of my week.


Interview with Beavertown founder / owner Logan Plant

Recently I visited the fantastic Beavertown Brewery and conducted an interview with it’s founder and owner Logan Plant. We chatted about the development of the brewery from its beginings at Dukes Brew & Que, the explostion of canning in the UK and the formation and goals of United Craft Brewers.

Huge thanks to Logan for taking the time to speak to me and to Sam for making us so welcome at the brewery and for setting it all up.

I loved Beavertown before I spent the morning up there and now I like them even more. Great people and great beer.

Irish craft beer – My first thoughts

Bo Bristle / Kinnegar / 8 Degrees / Galway Bay


The Beer O’Clock Show podcast has a focus on the emerging Irish craft beer scene.
Over the last week I’ve drank a couple of beer from the Season 6 box from Ireland based online shop Drink Store.
So far I’ve enjoyed bottle of Bo Bristle Amber, a quaffable 4.5% session ale with a good waft of citrus laden American hops, lots of lemon pith, melon and earthiness of top soil. Really nice stuff, reminded me of the likes of Fyne Alalanche or a number of beers produced by Williams Brothers.

Besides the Beer O’Clock Show selection I added some other delights to my box and so far Kinnegar Rustbucket has been a shining star. A 5.1% Rye ale that managed to strike a great balance between hop punch and the pepper notes of rye malts. Personally I’m a bit bored of the use of rye as it’s often over used in beers and becomes a bit too rich but this was brilliantly measured and handled the specialty grain perfectly and allowed the hops to shine but also compliment the malts.

My first taste of 8 Degrees Brewing’s beer came in the form of Double Irish Imperial IPA. I found this to be along the lines of Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA but a bit more easy going, big fruity hops and musty pine. Alarmingly drinkable for its lofty 9% abv.

As I hoped Galway Bay’s Of Foam and Fury lived up to the hype, this Double IPA is the crown prince of this young beer scene and justifiably so. It’s a massive Simcoe monster, resinous and juicy this was packed to the gills with dank hop flavour and aroma without becoming too bitter.

What I’ve been drinking this week…


After a brief hiatus (none of that silly Dryanuary nonsense) just been busy.


So what’s grabbed my beery attention in the last seven days.


The big one on everyone’s lips has been Thornbridge Jaipur X. I managed to grab and bottle and drank in this past weekend. I liked it, all the characteristics you expect from the regular version bug with more “oomph”. The booze was evident but not as heavy as the likes of Unhuman Cannonball and Hardcore IPA can sometimes be. A really nice effort but I still can’t figure out why some American breweries can nail this style, hide the stength and deliver the favour without the heat.


The bottles I recently had from Spanish brewery Naparbier have really impressed me. First I opened was their Aotearao Hoppy Pils, with was fantastic stuff, that pilsner yeast had completely cleaned it out allowing bountiful amounts of Pina Colada-like hops to really shine. Hop bitterness is all well and good but personally I love lots of hop flavour and this was up there towards the likes of Alpine’s Nelson.

The Pale Ale was along the same lines but at a slightly lower abv it seemed a bit more simple with a similar hop profile but less impact, still very good tho. Their Aker India Pale ale took everything to the next step up with more rounded malt sweetness and a more diverse hop profile. Naparbier and really one to watch this year.

Golden Pints 2014


Best UK Cask Beer
Winner: Magic Rock – High Wire
Runner up: Thornbridge – Baize

UK Keg Beer
Winner: BrewDog – Paradox Heaven Hill
Runners up: Siren/Beavertown/Magic Rock – Rule of Thirds
Northern Monk – Northern Star

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Winner: Beavertown – Gamma Ray
Runner up: BrewDog – Paradox Heaven Hill

Best Overseas Draught
Winner: Alpine – Nelson
Runner up: Alesmith – Speedway Stout (Vietnamese Coffee)

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Winner: Founders – Breakfast Stout
Runner up: Westbrook – Mexican Cake

Best collaboration brew
Winner: Prairie / Evil Twin – Bible Belt
Runner up: Buxton / Omnipollo – Yellow Belly

Best Overall Beer
Winner: Alpine – Nelson
Runner up: Beavertown – Gamma Ray

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
Winner: Buxton / Omnipollo – Yellow Belly

Best UK Brewery
Winner: Beavertown
Runner up: BrewDog

Best Overseas Brewery
Winner: Stone
Runner up: Almanac Beer Co.

Pub/Bar of the Year
Winner: Northern Monk Refectory (Leeds)
Runner up: Budobust (Leeds)
Honorable mentions: Toronado – San Diego, Pizza Port Ocean Beach – San Diego

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014
Winner: Northern Monk Refectory (Leeds)
Runner up: Budobust (Leeds)

Beer Festival of the Year
Winner: Indy Man Beer Con
Runner up: Leeds International Beer Festival

Supermarket of the Year

Independent Retailer of the Year
Winner: Beermoth (Manchester)
Runner up:  Trembling Madness (York)
Honorable mentions: BottleKraft (San Diego), Healthy Spirits (San Francisco), BottleDog (London)

Online Retailer of the Year
Winner: Ales By Mail

Best Beer Book or Magazine
Winner: Brew Britannia – Boak and Bailey

Best Beer App
Winner: Craft Beer London

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Winner: @broadfordbrewer
Runner up: @totalcurtis

Best Brewery Website/Social media
Winner: BrewDog


What I’ve been drinking this week…











Once again I ask myself “What have I been drinking this week?”.

Monday saw me venture into Bradford for “Mama Beers” a Italian food and beer matching event put on by The Sparrow and neighboring restaurant Mama Mia’s.

The evening unfolded with a waistband expanding seven courses and accompanying beers. My pick of the bunch were Birra Del Borgo ReAle Extra and Brewfist / Prairie Spaghetti Western (aged in Grappa barrels). I have fond memories of ReAle Extra from drinking halves at Open Baladin in Rome. A near on perfect IPA with lots of juicy orange and punchy grapefruit. The Grappa aged Spaghetti Western is a imperial stout with coffee, chocolate and made with pasta water. It’s a truly immense beer displaying all the flavours that it promised and worked beautifully with the Tiramisu.


Last night I paid a visit to my new local beer bar, Cap & Collar in Shipley (full review coming soon) and enjoyed a cracking half of Brass Castle Bad Kitty. I recently appeared on the Beer O Clock Show Podcast and this was the beer we were drinking. The bottles we drank were not the freshest but nonetheless were very nice but this cask offering was full of lovely sweet and silky vanilla, a real joy.

What I’ve been drinking this week…


Back for another weekly run down of the libations that have been delighting my taste buds this weeks.

This week’s main event was Rule of Thirds, a collaborative brew between Siren , Beavertown and Magic Rock. Probably the “coolest” beer brewed this year which is a 6.4% IPA/Pale Ale pulling together equal parts Siren Soundwave, Beavertown Gamma Ray and Magic Rock Cannonball. With such high billing it had a lot to live up to hype, loads of juicy tropical fruit and stupidly drinkable as I was reminded of this on Wednesday morning. The initial release was brewed at Siren but both Magic Rock and Beavertown plan to brew a version too. Magic Rock’s Richard Burhouse expressed that he thought Cannonball was the dominant beer in the mix. Leeds beery legend Matt Gorecki did a couple of us an actual blend of three thirds of each beer and that was exceptional too and probably a smoother seamless blend…but by this time I think I’d had at least four halves.

This past weekend I hosted a bottle share for a couple of friend’s birthday which resulted in an epic line-up of bottles and 10 hours of sampling. One of the highlights for me was Brooklyn Black Ops. I bought this bottle a number or years ago when I managed to snaffle one of the six bottles delivered to Beer Ritz. Its not the kind of beer you just crack open on a Friday night, this type of beer is for sharing. Its essentially Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout aged in Bourbon barrels and then re-fermented with champagne yeast. I really enjoyed it, yeah it may not be the most thick bodied stout but the bourbon really filled in the holes you can find in the base beer and I think a good four years of aging in my cellar took away any lingering heat from the alcohol. Masterfully done.

What I’ve been drinking this week…

The beers I’ve enjoyed this week once again highlights how great the British brewing scene is at the moment. First up is Northern Monk New World IPA. On yet another visit to the on-site tap room and kitchen I sampled a number of halves of their flagship IPA. The first beer brewed by Northern Monk is a massive improvement from their days cuckoo brewing in North Yorkshire. Head brewer Brian Dickson has ironed out all the kinks and given it a super-charged hop injection. Loads of juicy orange, grapefruit yet balance with fresh pine and sugary malts.


Next up another Yorkshire brewery and a surprise I expect for most people reading this blog…Wharfebank. The Otley based brewery are in most people’s minds a traditional brewery creating cask ales like Tether Blonde, Camfell and Celtic Glory, nothing wrong with them but nothing much to get excited about. Brewer Steve Crump has whipped up a wonderful new pale ale named Oberon choc-full of citrus laden Centennial hops and a rounded off with a smattering of Chinook a real “Juicy Banger”. Oberon is one of the best cask ales I’ve drank in quite sometime and if this is an impression of what Wharfebank have in store for the future then things are looking good.


Inevitably this weekly round-up wouldn’t be complete without some bottles I quaffed at home and yes a big chunk of them end up being from across the Atlantic. As well as seeing the return of one of my all-time favourites Founders Breakfast Stout once again hit the shops near me. The bottled highlight was without doubt Westbrook Brewing Mexican Cake, a imperial stout with cocao nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and Habanero chilli peppers. This was epic stuff, one of the best beers I’ve had all year if not one of the best ever. With big chocolate, smooth vanilla and well measured whack of chilli heat this is one special beer.

What I’ve been drinking this week…


The new My Brewery Tap 52 US Beer club arrived on my doorstep last week and I started digging into that. One of the early highlights has been New English’s Dragoon American Red Ale. I usually have a rather low expectations for amber ales as I see them often as American’s answer to a Best Bitter, less taxing than a big hopped-up pale ale and with much more sweetness. Well this one went in another direction; punching at 6.9% this is nor ordinary Amber Ale and many did it deliver a big hop onslaught.


While in San Diego there seemed a bit of excitement surrounding Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout and why not…what’s not to love? It’s bulging at the seams with sweet peanut butter and vanilla flavours. Not many flavoured stouts actually taste that strongly of its intended additional ingredient but this does, its really does. It never becomes too sickly sweet and is an extremely well balanced beer.


Not a third American beer I hear you cry…yes sorry it is and it’s a real winner. Stone’s 18th Anniversary IPA is billed as a “golden?brown” India pale ale. I’m a big fan of Stone’s output in general but this worked really well and pulled off a tasty new angle on such a well-worn beer style. Amber with a reddish-brown hue in its appearance lets you know this is no ordinary IPA but who would have thought that the addition of a bit of brown malt would make such a difference. As you’d expect this is a really juicy hop-fest of an IPA but it’s the malt bill that shines through and contributes wonderful flavours of coffee and caramel. Such a great beer and just different enough to make you notice.


Last week saw the latest collaboration brew created by BrewDog, this time its with “the oldest brewery in the world” Weihenstephan. The beer in question is India Pale Weizen, a blend of IPA and hefeweizen n styles the each brewery are well known for. Personally I think they nailed it by producing a beer that contained the sweet wheat notes and banana of a hefeweizen along with a masterful hop blast.

San Diego Breweries – Part one

A Hop Odyssey


Stone Brewing Co

A Disneyland for beer. We arrived at Stone before they opened and there was probably at least 40 people ahead of us in the queue. Stone World Bistro and gardens is a wonderful place. A huge brewhouse is somehow tucked away behind a high-end restaurant (sadly didn’t get to dine there) and two well-stock bars serving Stone’s ever expanding range of beers and masterfully selected guests. The thing that is the real cherry on the cake are the gardens, not only could I drink some of the very best beer in the world but in the stunning setting of their grounds. The brewery tour ended up being more of a talk and not much of a look around the facility, but I over looked that after my final taster of Stone Russian Imperial Stout post-tour. Visiting Stone was always going to be a highlight of my journey, I only wish I could have stayed longer.

Beers drank – (Post-tour samples) Levitation, IPA, Arrogant Bastard and Imperial Russian stout.

Cimmerian Portal (stout), Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA and Stone Ruination IPA with Yuzu, Kumquats, and Red Pomelo


Not many things excited me more than the idea of visiting Alesmith. A Short car journey from White Labs to a rather non-descript corner of an industrial park we found one of the best breweries in the world. Inside it reminded me of a posh insurance brokers office…if it wasn’t for the bottling line and racks of oak barrels. Alesmith is a relativity small place considering its reputation. I didn’t record too much video footage but I couldn’t pass up a chance of reviewing the special Vietnamese coffee version of Speedway stout. Speedway is one of my favourite beers of all time and this variation was sublime. While at the brewery a had slightly embarrassing moment, Peter Zien Alesmith’s head-honcho met and shook hands with other members of our party, I was stood on the other side of a barrel/table, he turned to me, and as I stuck out my hand to press some fresh with the big boss man he turned away for me to retreat into my sample of Speedway red-faced. Thankfully my face was already scorched from strolling along the harbor the day before. For the last 20-30mins of our time at the brewery I stood and chatted to too very friendly locals talking about the local beer scene. A truly great experience.

Beers drank – Speedway Stout Vietnamese Coffee, Speedway Stout (regular), Nut Brown Ale, Old Ale, Lil Devil, Ramblin’ Rye (Cigar City collab)



Lost Abbey / Port Brewing

Personally I’ve always preferred the less lorded output of the Port Brewing arm of this brewery. Yes, I agree Lost Abbey create some wonderful and creative twists on Belgian inspired and barrel-aged beer. On the day we visited it was during the collection day for Lost Abbey’s most recent uber-rare and super pricey release named Veritas. To get your 4 bottle limit of this beer you had to order a week or two in advance and the select a day and time to come and collect your allocation at a hefty $40 per bottle. WOWZERS! Lost Abbey make some lovely beers, Red Barn Saison, Saint’s Devoltion a hopped-up brett pale ale and Serpent Stout to name a few. As with most breweries a food stall or van is often found outside and on this day we troffed down some greasily tasty grilled cheese sandwiches to soak up the sample of Grand Cru and glasses of Ryan’s first sour that he’d brought along to share with friends. Lost Abbey typifies one of the less attractive elements of American beer culture for me, over priced exclusive beers that actually aren’t all that good. But that is just my personal taste.

Beers drank – Port Brewing: Board Meeting, Mongo, Anniversary Ale, Lost Abbey: Framboise de Amarosa, Angel’s Share Grand Cru