Golden Pints 2014


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.

Miscellaneous Stuff

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.

via maris

Here’s to a great 2015 – cheers to all of you!


About beermack

Tech is the day job, but beer's the first love. Clean and hoppy wins the race. Great to have lived in Dublin through the Irish decent beer revolution, now back in the UK plying my trade in the Big Smoke.
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5 Responses to Golden Pints 2014

  1. Beer Buddy says:

    Totally agree we were badly in need of a sessionable lower percentage brew and my hopes were high for Via Maris as like yourself I hold Galway Bay in high esteem and was looking forward to another knock out. Buuuut… I just felt it had nothing going on, not much in flavour or sweet smells.

    This was the second session disappointment after Trouble’s attempt either earlier this year or last. It was so forgettable I can’t even remember the name (Graffiti, just googled it).

    On a side note both were had on draught in Brewdock on different occasions so let that variable be considered.

    I know both breweries are capable of so much more and will continue to sing their praises but just want them to deliver brews as good as Of Foam & Fury and Chasing the Dragon but just in the lower percentile category… much lower.

    Something like Fynes Jarl or Kinnegars Otway (know that’s still a little high for a session brew but still one of the most enjoyable new brews this year) would be ideal but with the respective breweries own sprinkle of magic.

    Go Beers, Go Breweries : )

    • beermack says:

      Interesting take! I had an enjoyable pint of Graffiti earlier this year and have yet to have an underwhelming pint of Via Maris! Worth checking out VM again in the new year if you can – perhaps you had a duff pint? Plus, it’s a recipe which is constantly evolving. Thanks for reading & getting involved!

  2. Beer Buddy says:

    It is possible both were off-ish pints, it does happen, hence mentioning both were on draught.

    If it shows up bottled I’ll certainly give it another go, same with Trouble’s Graffiti, but I’ll pass on draught.

    And I know most breweries don’t want to put out less than great beers but I do think some times we should let them know things could be better.

    Looking forward to next year and to new beer!


  3. Pingback: Golden Pints 2014 | Beer Infinity

  4. Beer Buddy says:

    So. Thought it would be good to follow up here from the last post in December. I have since gone back on a couple of occasions and tried Via Maris again and yes it is a good brew. However… there are problems…. siiiggghhhhhh problems. All were in Brewdock again so lets keep that in mind.

    Had one recently enough to finish off the night after a couple of other brews and found it to be great, plenty of flavour, body and aroma. Excellent I thought. Next time I was in I went straight for the Via and it was wonderful, really enjoyed it. Then went for another and it was flat watery and unpleasant. Said it to the barman who responded with a apathetic shrug that the keg had just been changed. So what do I do. Say its a great beer that has only a 50%* chance of being good, despite being poured in the breweries own pub? Maybe they should give it and themselves and bottle it if keg and pour quality is an issue?

    Don’t like to be negative, LOVE Galway Bay and Brewdock but if this was in Wetherspooons people yapping about you get what you pay for, but it isn’t.


    *One in late 2014 / one in Jan / two in Feb – All Brewdock.

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