A challenge from Mark at Pencil and Spoon, which really ended up as a personal year end review of sorts.
I’ve decided to focus on interesting new beers and breweries. Sure, there was amazing stuff from BrewDog, Mikkeller and Nøgne ø this year as well, but the beer scene is far more complex:
Best UK Draught Beer
Acorn Lubeski IPA. Never heard of? They have a series of single hop IPAs or, rather premium bitters, and this one showcases Lubeski hops. Smooth base, fine malty body, lovely citrus hoppiness. Lemon and lime. Long dry finish. Obscure enough that it’s not even on their web site, but the Beer Nut can confirm I haven’t just made it up.
Best UK Bottled Beer
It must be the Thornbridge St. Petersburg Imperial Russian Stout Highland Whisky Reserve. So massive you’re unable to even tweet the name of the beer. Be sure to grab some bottles of their next release. In the meantime, their Jaipur and Halycon beers are awesome, too. They should have better international distribution, with new brewing facilities I assume they are ready to take over the world.
Best Overseas Draught Beer:
Chotěboř 12° Kvasnicová.
A new Czech brewery with export ambitions. Their bottled beers are great, but their yeast beer is divine.
Best Overseas Bottled Beer
Both Christmas beers from Sigtuna Brygghus, Sweden took me by surprise. They are the Scandinavian brewery to watch in 2010. They are a stone’s throw from Arlanda Airport, so it should be possible to fit in a visit…
Best Overall Beer
Birrificio del Ducato Nuova Mattina (New Morning)
Hazy peach color, rocky head. Very Belgian aroma. An explosion of flavour from the first sip. Full malt, sweet and sour, stable and barnyard, Summer flowers, pepper, spearmint, some ashes. Bittersweet finish with some peppery and warming ginger. Their beers are to be found across Europe now, try them all!
Nøgne ø Sunturnbrew
Best UK Brewery
Best Overseas Brewery
Just one? I could just say Nøgne ø, but that’s cheating. De Molen? Yes, it must be de Molen.
Pub/Bar of the Year
The Football Pub, Rome
Beer Festival of the Year
Copenhagen Beer Festival. But I enjoy Pig’s Ear immensely.
Supermarket of the Year
I wouldn’t know. The expanded Marks & Spencer range with full information about the beer and their breweries is impressive.
Independent Retailer of the Year
Online Retailer of the Year
A tie: beermerchants.com, birraland.it
Best Beer Book
Pete Brown: Hops and Glory
Best Beer Blog
That’s tough,eh? If I could pick ten. And some have been praised so much lately its best for their egos if I ignore them..
I must say Ron Pattison. Not for the historical records, which are beyond me, but for his descriptions of his days out. As Alan recently observed, he is, at his best, Dickensian. But I must also point to two other expats who have their special angle on the beer scene and the general culture they have settled in – Barry and Max.
Best Beer Twitterer
Best Online Interactive Brewery
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year
The Gunmakers. Good, no nonsense food, properly kept pints.
Next Year I’d Most Like To…
go to the US and drink beer. East Coast, West Coast, North or South. Not that I’m likely to. On quite another level, I hope to meet as many friendly and generous beer people on both sides of the bar and the mash tun as in 2009.