It’s that time of year, people. Get the tinsel out, get a bit too merry, and have a good auld bitch about what beers you loved and hated over the past 12 months. Golden Pints doesn’t really have a ‘good auld bitching’ section, so we’ll keep this towards the ‘love’ end of the spectrum…
Best Irish Keg Beer
Galway Bay Brewery Via Maris. This is the beer we’ve been waiting for in Ireland. A fabulous mix of flavour, sessionability and value. Everything the Irish drinker was looking for in one 3.5% Table Beer. Pale, juicy, and keeping the drinker on their toes by constantly changing the nuance of its flavour with different hop profiles. And €4 per pint. All the time. I’ve drank more of this in the past few months than any other single beer – that’s a good sign.
Shout outs to: White Hag Black Boar and Eight Degrees Full Irish IPA.
Best Irish Bottled Beer
Only one winner here: Galway Bay 200 Fathoms. Back in February, this leapt onto the scene with all its whiskey-barrel-aged imperial stouty goodness and I fell in love. A truly accomplished piece of brewing with incredible depth and balance. Up there with the best Imperial Stouts I’ve had. Only 800 bottles were made…thank God I still have a couple.
Shout out to: Blacks of Kinsale Black IPA
Best Irish Cask Beer
Can I pass? Yeah, I’ll pass.
Best Overall Irish Beer:
Has to be Galway Bay’s Via Maris. I can’t rave enough about how good this is, or just how necessary getting a beer like this in the Irish scene was. Well done to the team.
Best Irish Brewery
Galway Bay. Obviously. Their quality would not be out of place anywhere in the global beer scene. And they’ve just released a dark sour ale, which is amazing. What can’t they do?
Best New Irish Brewery
The White Hag. Sligo’s new faces raced onto the scene in September, releasing a full line-up of their brews at once at the Irish beer festival in the RDS. Many of them are totally splendid. The have a masterful Imperial Stout (Black Boar), a great White IPA, and a very solid IPA. Looking forward to more great things from these guys in 2015, and to seeing how the US distro pans out.
Best Irish Beer Bar
Against the Grain, Dublin. Best selection, great service, very decent (and cheap) food. Plus it’s a Galway Bay pub, so you’re guaranteed quality even if you don’t fancy anything from the 20+ guest taps.
Shout out: Norseman, Temple Bar. A great craft beer pub – well priced and always a laugh.
Best Irish retailer
Drinkstore of Stoneybatter. Unparalleled selection and service (great online shop too).
Best Irish Importer
Praising the importer seems to be less common in Golden Pints posts, not sure why. This award goes to Grand Gru Beers. Wally, Phil and the team have had a storming year. Amazing diversity, real attention to pricing and to freshness, and plenty of end-consumer events to keep in touch with the punters. A class act all round.
International (including UK)
Best International Keg Beer
Amager/Grassroots Shadow Pictures (Skyggebilleder). A Double IPA that dreams are made of and a fantastic transatlantic collaboration. Drank at the newly opened Taphouse Copenhagen in an incredibly fresh state – juicy yet so crisp, with just enough spruce. The easiest drinking DIPA I’ve ever had. I want more.
Shout outs to: Crooked Stave L’Brett d’Peach, Magic Rock Cannonball, Cellarmaker Christopher Riwakan.
Best International Cask Beer
Buxton Axe Edge. Had in a few locations around the country in 2014. Not many cask beers make me turn my eyes away from the keg fonts in bars, but this does. And I’m rarely disappointed.
Shout outs to: Hawkshead NZPA, Thornbridge Kipling.
Best International Bottled/Canned Beer
Beavertown/Naparbier Bone King. One of the best DIPAs I’ve ever tasted – a total revelation. Proud that this was brewed in my homeland. Indeed, this was my highest scoring brew on Ratebeer in 2014.
Shout outs to: Stone Enjoy By, Thornbridge Kipling, and Alchemist Heady Topper.
Best International Brewery
Cellarmaker, San Francisco. Holy lord this lot can brew. Open just over a year and nearly 100 different beers brewed. No bottles and only available at the Tap Room at 1150 Howard (growlers too) and a few select locations around the Bay. Some of the best beer experiences of my life have been with these guys. They’ve nailed everything from pale and hoppy to massive and chocolatey (and most stuff in between). Definitely one of the top IPA brewers in the world, zero doubt about that. A total privilege to have been able to drink here several times in 2014.
Shout outs to: Buxton (UK), The Kernel (UK), Jester King (Texas), and Brasserie Cantillon (Belgium)
Best International Bar
BierCaB, Barcelona. A total Mecca in a once good-beer-dry country. 30 great international taps, an impeccably curated bottle selection, and the best food I’ve ever eaten in a ‘proper’ beer bar. All at astonishingly reasonable prices.
Shout outs to: The Trappist, Oakland; Mikkeller and Friends, Copenhagen; Craft Beer Co, Leather Lane (London); The Free Trade Inn (Newcastle)
Best International Beer Festival
Copenhagen Beer Celebration. The best I’ve been to. Ever.
Shout out to: IndyManBeerCon, Manchester.
Best beer blogger
Aidan Sweeney, Brews International. I’m going to keep voting for him every year until people start reading his well-balanced and researched writing. He’s full of shit in real life, mind you.
Shout out to: Total Ales (Matt Curtis)
Best Beer Tweeter
@Dontdrinkbeer gives me a right laugh. In all honesty, I genuinely look forward to reading the 140 character rantings/ramblings of at least 30 of my fellow beer fans on Twitter every day. Well done all of you, pints on me.
Best of the best, of the best of the best:
Best Overall Beer of 2014
Galway Bay Via Maris. They must’ve done something right if I’m giving this award to a 3.5% ABV table beer.
Here’s to a great 2015 – cheers to all of you!