My Golden Pints 2017

I’ve written very little about beer this year, for fairly obvious reasons. And nobody probably gives a tuppenny feck about what I think anyway, but, I do have some thoughts. And I’m going to inflict them upon you.

Aren’t I kind?

Best UK Cask Beer : TitchRammy Craft Ales

I like sessionable beers of all shades. But I fell in love with this particular beer this January and have it every time I see it.

Clean, crisp, full bodied, hoppy as an amphetamine fuelled frog. And only 3.6% abv.

Matt and Andy make some exceptional beers. Long may they continue.

(Honourable Mentions : Always Crashing In The Same Car – Five Towns – Provoked some silly grins at #ISBF4; Waffle & Maple Syrup Brown AleBlack Jack / Drygate – a highlight of East West Fest)

Best UK Keg Beer : Lemon Drizzle IPARunaway Brewery / GRUB

“If life gives you lemons, make…..”

An IPA? Street food heroes GRUB approach local beer hero Mark Welsby. To make a beer tasting like Lemon Drizzle cake (Disclosure : my favourite cake of all cakedom). I was lucky enough to get to sample it from the fermenter.

Just one sniff and I swooned. Oh my.

It was simply sensational. And I was humbled when Bailey & Jules allowed us to have it first. At #ISBF4.

We sold it all by Saturday lunchtime.

I went and grabbed another from the brewery.

We sold it all by 10:30.

A beer that entered local legend – and I keep getting asked where you can get it….

Best Small Pack Beer : Fudge Brownie StoutNorth Riding Brewery / Five Towns

Oh my days. What a beer.

Stuart and Malcolm collaborate frequently. And their beers are always excellent – and frequently stunning.

Like this.

Rich, dark and utterly luscious. When I first tried it, The Lovely One asked me what the stupid grin was for.

It’s a rich 7.4% Stout. It tasted of Fudge Brownies. It knocked me sideways. And luckily, I have some left.

And deep in the bowels of the North Riding Brewpub, there is a wooden cask full of it. Being opened on New Years Eve.

Guess where I’ll be?

World Beer / World Small Pack : If you’ve ever read my blog, you’ve already moved on….

Best Collaboration Beer : Fudge Brownie StoutNorth Riding Brewery / Five Towns

It’s really THAT good. My “Beer of the Year” 

Best Branding : Marble Brewery

I’m not one for pyrotechnics. Give it me clean. Give it me clear. Give me instant recognition.

Marble have done that. With their core range. With their Metal Series. And with their Gothic Series too.

I’m a sucker for a hanging tag.

Best UK Brewery : Marble Brewery

I have a simple rule for this one. Whose beers have I drunk the most. On draught.

And I’ve spent a lot of time in The Marble Arch (I blame 3 of The 5 Berks for that…. You know who you are!)

Cask. Keg. Can. Bottle. Marble seem to keep getting better. Experimenting, but hitting the mark. A year of collaboration. A year of celebration. A year of excellence.

Best showcased in a beautiful pub.

(Honourables…. : Squawk (never let me down); Torrside – going from strength to strength.

Best New Brewery : Turning Point

I haven’t had gallons. But one night at The North Riding Brewpub I had one of theirs “Sun Empire” on keg. And it simply stunned me.

We had the same beer on cask at #ISBF4. It was my catnip. Every beer I’ve had from them had been exceptional.


(Honourable : Brew York – More stunning beers from York)

Best Pub : The Brink (Bridge Street, Manchester)

Makes me think of the Talking Heads song “This Must Be The Place” It feels like home. It was our safe space when our world fell apart. And I’ll never be able to thank Gareth, Elana, Sarah, Kate, Ste, Pete and all the staff – past and present – enough.

It’s not the that though. This isn’t a sentimental award.

It’s the welcome. The localism. Yes, there are exceptional beers, but it’s a feeling. Like I said, it feels like home.

I don’t know what more to say.

(Honourables : The Marble Arch & The Smithfield. With pubs like these, Manchester is truly blessed)

Best New Pub/Bar : Fairfield Social Club

I couldn’t be happier for Jason & Jules Bailey. Sorry “Bailey & Jules”!

I think they have something very special here. Yes, it’s in a double railway arch. But this is SUCH a great addition to Manchester.

They’ve assembled a great team, great beer and great food. The whole shebang just hits the bullseye.

I expected nothing less. And they delivered. I can’t wait for the live music!

Best Brewery Tap : Black Jack

People. It’s where my friends get together. It’s summer. It’s relaxed. It’s just a feeling.

Is always about the people and the feeling. And this place has it.

(Honourable : Runaway. Mark and the team have done a fabulous job and created a proper wee Brewtap. I intend spending a LOT more time there in 2018)

Best Beer Festival : East West Fest (The Red Shed, Wakefield)

Jaz (The Arch Nemesis) & I adore this place. And went the first two years.

This year – finally – some of our beery friends felt that they’d missed out long enough and came for the night.

They’ve booked their accommodation for next year’s event 7 months in advance. For the whole weekend.


It’s intimate. Fun. Loaded with great beers from East and West of the Pennines. It had a feeling – for me – that no other vaunted festival has.

Anyone who knows me knows my ambivalence to the bigger bashes. I like things simple.

You can keep your lupuloid fireworks. Your Imperial extravaganzas. Just give me some friends, good beer and great conversation.

And a decent DIPA / Dark blending opportunity. (We blended for hours……it was fabulous!)

Come to Wakefield in May.

(Honourable : I would vote for the Celebration that I organised, but this is the first Independent Salford Beer Festival that I’ve truly enjoyed.

There. I said it!)

Best Blog 2017 : Beer Compurgation

I don’t know what there is to say about Mark that hasn’t already been said.

That he’s a nice fella? That he can write? That he’s passionate?

All those things and more.

This year he has made me smile. He’s made me laugh. Made me cry (the bastard!). Made me angry. Made me think.

And every time I see him, I give him a hug.

Simon Johnson Award : @BeerFinderGen

There’s something about Mary (I mean James). Informative. Smart. Thoughtful. (“But that’s enough about me!” Stanley)

He is funny, tweets with passion and thinks. Even when he “drunk tweets”.

And he did a fabulous job taking the pressure off me doing the @salfordbeerfest twitter account*

*(Not a patch on ME, natch!)

(Honourable : Kate The Brink – Innovative Gif usage. Smart, always funny. Rib-achingly so.)