Golden Pints Awards for 2016
It's that time of the year again, where has the year gone? The Golden Pints Awards are where beer bloggers just heap praise on some of their favourites throughout the year. The following are my own personal opinion but often it's an opinion shared by many others.
These were my awards last year if you are interested. If not, move on to the awards below.
· Best Irish Cask Beer - Going to make this one easy and current. Dash Away by Trouble Brewing. It's a festive cherry and chocolate stout. It's bloody good and out right now in a good pub serving cask beer. The 2015 release was even available up until about April in 2016.
· Best Irish Keg Beer - Always the most hotly contested but I feel I need to give it to the beer I probably drank the most of on draught during the year. If I drank a lot of it, it must mean I really enjoyed it. This goes to Galway Hooker for their Amber Lager which is really a Vienna lager as far as I'm concerned.
· Best Irish Bottled Beer - I had a lot of The White Hag's wonderful session ale, Little Fawn this year. It probably comes second in the kegged beer category too if I'm honest.
· Best Irish canned Beer - Last year, this was combined with bottles but this year, there's more than enough Irish craft cans available for a separate category. Whiplash gets it for me with Surrender to the Void. A wonderfully juicy DIPA and as fresh as you can get it. In my case, from the brewery a few hours after it was canned.
· Best Overseas Draught Beer - I don't get to drink too much foreign stuff these days unless I'm away. Most of the beer I drink is Irish as we have so much choice now. I'm going to go with one I do love and that's Lagunita's Aunt Sally which recently made an appearance on draught in Ireland.
· Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer - As with draught, I haven't had as many foreign bottles as in the past. This one is a classic that I enjoyed in the US and can now enjoy in Ireland. Sweetwater's Georgia Brown.
· Best Collaboration Brew - Oh this can get interesting sometimes but I'll go with a fairly classical style. O'Hara's (Carlow) and Pinta (Poland) yet again collaborated and the 2016 version of Lublin to Dublin was the best yet in my opinion. It's a Foreign Extra Stout which uses Irish malt and Polish hops.
· Best Overall Beer - I'm going to stick with O'Hara's Leann Folláin because it's still my desert island beer. I love it intensely.
· Worst Branding, Pumpclip or Label - I don't think too many other bloggers do this category. I added it in 2013. Think of it like the Golden Raspberry awards in Hollywood. It's all just good fun. I'm going to hand the crown back to McGargles this year and specifically for Francis' Big Bangin IPA. Why? The name is too much of a mouthful and the character looks like a confused, homeless hipster with a hop t-shirt on. On the flipside, this might be the best IPA made in Ireland at the moment so I get over the branding and just drink it.
· Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label - Like an immortal Highlander once said, there can be only one. YellowBelly win this hands down for everything they do. They even won the inaugural Beoir: Design of the year award and a few days later, brought out a cartoon to celebrate which brought in all of their characters. Not only that, they've only gone and brought out a little video game too. OK, it's a repetitive side scrolling shooter but still, it's a first for any Irish brewery as far as I'm aware.
· Best Irish Brewery - Yet again, this goes to YellowBelly for being the brewery to push all of the boundaries in 2016. We thought we had a good thing with the madness of Galway Bay (we still do) but YellowBelly brought it to a whole new level.
· Best Overseas Brewery - I hate this category as I can never say who the best is. I do have an answer this year and that's simply because they flew me over to the brewery so I got to see it firsthand. Pilsner Urquell, the original golden lager. It does help that it's one of my favourite lagers, especially served from the wooden barrels in the cellars.
· Best New Brewery Opening 2016 - Lough Gill Brewery has just launched. OK, I haven't even tried the beer yet but I'm picking them for one reason only. They had the balls to do with Oliver Hughes did in the 90s with Porterhouse. The names are a Fuck You kind of thing to some of the big boys. Heino Weisse is actually an IPA so it's obviously made up of two well known brands. A bit like Weiserbuddy from the Porterhouse back in the day. Thieving Bastards is the other one, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume it's the middle finger to Orchard Thieves, a Heineken brand. I wonder how long it will take for the cease and deist letters to start arriving?
· Pub/Bar of the Year - Again, 57 The Headline on Leonard's corner in Dublin for me. The largest range of Irish craft beer in the country and the best staff in a traditional pub setting win it for me.
· Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2016 - It's a toss between Bar Rua in Dublin and Caribou in Galway for me. They both provide something different so I'll call it a tie.
· Beer Festival of the Year - Killarney Beer Festival of course but that's because I'm involved in it as I run the judging/beer competition. It also wins because of the scenery.
· Supermarket of the Year - Supervalu wins it again. Dunnes have really upped their game but they just don't have the same range. Both Lidl and Aldi have also increased and Tesco have barely bothered.
· Independent Retailer of the Year - Drinkstore in Stoneybatter as usual but I did visit Dicey Reilly’s in Ballyshannon. In terms of wonderment inside it's one of the best.
· Online Retailer of the Year - As usual, Drinkstore.ie for the same reason as above. It's simply the only one I ever use to order beer.
· Best Beer Book or Magazine - Beoir Magazine of course. Yeah, I'm a little biased on that one.
· Best Beer Blog or Website - For beer blog I would say TheBeerNut. There's never a dull moment over there.
· Best Beer App - BeoirFinder because I would be lost without it and it's pretty much the only one I use other than the odd look at the BJCP app.
· Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer - Have I ever not put
@TheBeerNut down here? This year though, I'm giving it to @IrishBeerSnob for all the #IrishBeerChat sessions and a charity auction he put on. I wouldn't be surprised if he started ordering beers in the pub on twitter.
· Best Brewery Website/Social media - Again, it has to be YellowBelly. They have raised the bar to an extraordinary level in terms of branding and social media awareness and that's amazing when you consider that they are currently still, essentially just a brewpub in Wexford and not a large microbrewery with money behind them. They simply have the right people with the right skills working and a passion that's out of this world. I expect great things from these guys.