Golden Pint Awards 2011

Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer:

Winner: Buxton Axe Edge

Runner up: Hardknott Code Black

Honourable mentions: Ilkley Mary Jane, Magic Rock Curious NZ

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer:

Winner: The Kernel India Pale Ale 100 Centennial

Runner up: Red Willow Ageless

Honourable mentions: Oakham Citra, Traquair Jacobite

Best Overseas Draught Beer:

Winner: Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout

Runner up:  Great Divide Rumble

Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Joint:  Stone Arrogant Bastard / Pretty Things Jack D’Or

Honourable mentions:  Stone Cali-Belgique 2010, Flying Dog Gonzo

Best Overall Beer: The Kernel India Pale Ale 100 Centennial

Best Pumpclip or Label: Redwillow brand/logo instantly recognisable

Best UK Brewery: The Kernel Brewery

Honourable mentions: Red Willow, Buxton, Hardknott, Magic Rock, Adnams

Best Overseas Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Pub/Bar of the Year: Winner: Mr Foleys (Leeds)

Runner up: The Sparrow (Bradford)

Honourable mention: The Grove (Hudds) – will feature heavily for me in 2012

Supermarket of the Year: Waitrose

Runner up: Morrisons

Independent Retailer of the Year: Beer Ritz, Leeds

Online Retailer of the Year: Winner: MyBreweryTap

Best Beer Blog or Website:
Winner: Ghost Drinker
Runners up: The Good Stuff, New Briggate Beer Blog
Honourable mentions: The Beer ProleHopZine, BeersIveKnown, Beersay, Boak & Bailey

Best Beer Twitterer: Joint: @Filrd and @BeersIveKnown always on hand with friendly banter and beer (and cheese) recommendations.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: The Good Stuff: SummerWine Diablo IPA with Baked Feta

In 2012 I’d Most Like To… visit the breweries that have kindly extended an invitiation.  Learn about brewing beer.  Brew more beer.  Await lottery win.  Sell beer.  Kick back.  Bad Back.  Employ Brew Monkey.

Open Category:

Most prolific beer rating site in the North West: The Ormskirk BaronCaptained by @Baron_Orm and ably assisted by @Christoper_R – keep up the good work chaps!

Beer and Food Alchemist of the Year: Tyler Kiley (@Tkiley1), Chef at Mr Foleys.  Oh and rumour has it that his triple cooked chips aren’t bad either.

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Food and Beer Matching

Image from The Good Stuff

Food and beer, beer and food, there are plenty of eating establisments that are trail blazing, add to that a fair few people talking about matching the two and I reckon a lot more with a watchful eye on the developments to see how far this will go.  I’m open to the idea and have dabbled with tasting a few beers alongside some different cheeses and have to say it is a lot of fun and a useful learning exercise for someone looking to hone their taste buds.  (To the cynics: I do appreciate beer drunk on its own, oh and wine too!).

I have been trying my best to keep track of the recent coverage and have also taken a look back to see what went before.  I’m not saying that this all started in 2008, but as this is when the trail becomes warm, then I’ll follow it from there.

28th May 2008  the Guardian’s Word of Mouth Blog introduces Will Beckett their “Beer Guerrilla: a man on a mission to set the great British public free from boring beers” with his first article ‘Drinking Habits: pint of the unusual looking at apathetic beer choices.  Will’s mission to spread the word of good beer appears to have been decommissioned on or around 6th January 2009 having suppressed his fire through September and December 2008 including articles on ‘Beer with Gordon Ramsay and low cost alcohol.

Image from River Cottage

Jan 2009 Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a busy chap tirelessly campaigning for food issues in-line with his foodie passions, but he does occasionally cook with beer and notably worked alongside Hall and Woodhouse brewery (Badger Brewery) to develop River Cottage Stinger organic Ale.  This was his beer made with stinging nettles and Hugh says that it goes well with “summer barbeques and winter roasts“, a beer for all seasons perhaps!

Jan-Feb 2009 Oz and James ‘Drink to Britain’ series heroically journeyed the length and breadth of our fair land drinking as they went, and while they didn’t get into the food matching they did a sterling job of raising the profile of beer in general with visits to several breweries, including Saltaire, Prospect and BrewDog.

As far as I can tell from the internet, things were a little quiet for the next year or so, with Nov 2010 seeing Jamie Oliver‘s Magazine Issue 14 includes a drink recipe for a Beer Cocktail – Lambs Wool  which features Kernel Centennial IPA.  Nov-Dec 2010 Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s excellent ‘The Trip’ saw Steve commissioned by the food supplement of a Sunday newspaper to review half a dozen restaurants, with Rob along for the ride.  Sadly they were wine-centric,  but did visit The Angel at Hetton (which is well worth a visit) where they enjoyed a breakfast! so no beer there then!  Maybe the next series?

June 2011 Things started to move forward when Hardknott Brewery’s Dave Bailey started a campaign suggesting to the BBC that Saturday Kitchen should give fair representation to beer and maybe to act as a platform to take beer and food appreciation to the next level in terms of its TV coverage.  While there has been little progress with this campaign in terms of actual airtime for beer on Saturday Kitchen, I’d say it has been the catalyst in us seeing an increased level of interest in the wider media.  8th July 2011 Will Hawkes writes a blog Independent’s online Notebook section and featured Dave Bailey’s campaign.  5th August 2011 Chris Mercer Guardian’s Word of Mouth Blog followed suit and offered a comprehensive run-down on wine vs beer and did a nice job of playing devils advocate.  While mentioning chefs Tim Anderson and Ferran Adria and discussing the wider debate, he also gave some column space to the Hardknott Saturday Kitchen campaign.

19th August 2011 Des De Moor appeared on a  One Show montage after briefing them on the resurgence of the brewing industry and recommending some beers for their item on food matching.  What followed, in my opinion, was a calamitous studio review of beer with food, closing with Jay Rayner making it clear that he prefers wine, a wasted opportunity (but nothing to do with Des at this point, although if they were to try this again maybe they should get him into the studio).

November 2011 sees a flurry of activity:

Image from Leeds Brewery

I’m told that Jamie Oliver’s kitchen/set had a bottle of Kernel Beer in the background, and while this is just grasping at straws I’m hopeful that beer is in Jamie’s cheffing consciousness.  Oh look, it is!  1st Nov ‘Jamie’s Great Britain’ C4 series sees him spend a day with the Leeds Brewery most likely looking at their brewing operation before sampling the beer and food on offer at the Midnight Bell.  As with other chef’s if you Google beer and their name, you get similar hits – beef and ale stew, ginger beer, beer can chicken, beer battered fish.

4th Nov James Hall article in The Telegraph on East Yorkshire Pub named best in UK .  I wasn’t the only one to express my disbelief that the entire spread was devoted to their undoubtedly outstanding food, but not one mention of beer unless you include a reference to ale in their pie.  Just an oversight perhaps? ahem.

5th Nov Saturday Kitchen‘s recipe for Braised Beef Cheeks.  The wine expert (not Jolly Olly on this occasion) took their usual stroll around the supermarket and actually stopped to point out a bottle of Theakston Old Peculier as a food match possibility, but went on to choose a red wine.

7th-10th Nov Brooklyn Brewery‘s Brewmaster and editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, Garrett Oliver, hosts a series of beer tastings and dinners throughout the UK, including events at Oxford Brookes University, The National Brewery Centre, Port Street Bar and The Cross-Keys.

Image from Thornbridge Brewery FB

11th Nov BBC1 Nigel Slater‘s ‘Simple Cooking’ saw Nigel, Tom (the Wild Boar Man (from Thornbridge Hall) and Jim Harrison (Thornbridge Brewery) cook a Wild Boar burger, with Boar fed with grain from the brewery, along with Jaipur Tempura vegetables.

11th Nov Will Hawkes in the Independent online showing that beer and food matching is gaining recognition.

18th Nov Will Hawkes published once again but this time in both the online and the paper editions, letting us know all about the editor behind The Oxford Companion to Beer, his recent promotional tour and a big thumbs up to beer and cheese matching.

If you have read this and think you might like to give this a go, then look no further than books from Garrett Oliver (Brewmaster’s Table) and Fiona Beckett (An Appetite for Ale).  Of course, if you want to dabble without the financial outlay then check out The Good Stuff, Eating isn’t Cheating, The Beer Prole, Gastroturf and CAMRA (sorry to anyone that I’ve missed).  Keep up the good work one and all!

Please feel free to make comments with anything I’ve missed and I’ll update the post.  Thanks.

The Grove Inn, HD1

Image by Expolits of a Food Nut

My extended absence from this particular beer-paradise has been circumstantial and I had all but given up on visiting during 2011.  Enter stage right @GeekLeeds.  I met Gary (Geek Leeds blog) at the IPA Day back in August, Mr Foleys was packed and through the ‘random factor’ I happened to talk to him and as he didn’t seem to be a mentalist he is now one of the great bunch of people I have met so far thanks to great beer.

A couple of months back I received an SOS from Gary that read, “we need a beery adventure“.  It didn’t take long to agree on The Grove Inn.  Saturday gone, we embarked on our spluttering train journey, a short distance from Bradford and Leeds.  I know that Gary will be blogging about this in more detail than me, so I’ll cut to the bit at the pub.  When Tennyson penned this poem I’m positive it wasn’t with beer in mind, but as we entered the pub, and thanks to the right hemisphere of my melon , the one poem I know of popped into my mind…”crossing the bar“.  It was a moment I had built up in my thoughts and it seems to be a rite of passage for any self-respecting beer geek in West Yorkshire.  Apologies to the architect, but the pub is nothing to look at, it doesn’t draw you in and aside from the large BrewDog logo as you step through the door, you wouldn’t know this was going to be a trove of beery wealth.

It was about 5pm and there was a buzz about the place, a friendly enough mix of folk and we were greeted with “what can I get you“.   Usually this would be welcomed, no leaning over the bar to catch the Keeps attention, but when your head is spinning with choice all you want is a couple of minutes to steady yourself.  Not wanting to look like a total newbie I took control and ordered myself a pint of Hawkshead Windermere Pale, Gary a pint of Thornbridge Jaipur and Ben (@Boodrums) went for a bottle of BrewDog Hardcore.  Way to go Ben! He’ll learn from this, but at the time I couldn’t help feel a little bit jealous of his free spirit.

We settled for a table in the Public Bar as I sensed that the occupants of the Snug weren’t ready for our enthusiasm.  Someone had mentioned the artwork to me a few days before and I now fully appreciate what they were giggling about.   Lets just say the ambience is set to bohemian.  We settled in and slowly moved through the gears (exclude Ben from this) taking in a couple more cask delights in the form of Buxton SPA and Marble Dobber, before hitting the bottle menu hard.  I can’t remember the order perfectly but between us we sailed through BrewDog ABD, Kernel 100 Centennial and Columbus, Rogue Mocha, Little Creatures Pale and Hardknott Infra Red.  Tyler (It’s Just Beer blog) arrived to join us  (@tkiley1) and he influenced us to move onto Brooklyn Sorachi Ace and Nogne O Triple Tiger, Porterhouse Plain Porter and a few others that escape me.

Image by Port Street Beer House

Before leaving we annoyed a fair few people, on both sides of the bar, by our drunken deliberations and eventual purchases to take home.  Safe to say that Kernel 100 Centennnial converts Gary and Ben cleared the cellar of this outstanding beer.  So rude.

While waiting for our carriage home, we had to time to nip into The Kings Head at the station for a quick half of Magic Rock Curious NZ, needless to say this was tasting great.  The journey home would see us swig freely from a communal bottle of Schneider Weisse Tap 5 which rounded a great evening.  Highlights for me were the Brooklyn Sorachi, the Porterhouse Porter and the Marble Dobber.  Looking forward to my next visit to HD1.

(See Tyler’s take on the evening here).

I Will Follow You into the Dark

I’m enjoying my beer and relaxing into it a little more each month.  I have re-read a couple of my earlier posts and see my initial instincts were to hoard my beer and make sure nobody was looking before enjoying them all to myself.  I’ve always been aware of the merits of sharing and as I have previously explained, I’m aware that sharing beer is something that adds to the experience, but try telling that to the me of 6 months ago.

So tonight I have a wingman, he’s a beer rookie, whereas I’m more a pilot who still can’t get insurance, but flying solo nonetheless.  My brother-in-law Ben (@boodrums if you Tweet) has the enthusiasm about beer that will see him go a long way to quench his thirst.  He’s already been to Cask on the recommendation of some friendly Twitter folk and came home with his knapsack full of Mikkeller treasures.  He frequents the excellent Sparrow Bier Cafe in nearby Bradford, shops at Headingley’s Beer Ritz and I have a sneaky feeling that he’ll be hard to stop should he ever find out that there are online bottle shops.  During a recent chat he told meI’m not sure I like ‘dark’ beer…how could I possibly let that slide?  So last night we got together to try a few ‘dark’ beers to see if I could get him to retract such a statement.  I supplied the beer, he dutifuly adorned the table with cheese and oatcakes.  Don’t mind if I do!

After some much needed advice from the friendly folk on Twitter (thanks to those that chipped-in but especially Steve Lamond at Beers I’ve Known and the knowledgable Matt at Cheese and Chutney, Saltaire).  Ben brought along a mouthwatering selection including Steve’s recommendations of Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher, Tuxford & Tebbutt Blue Stilton, Old Amsterdam Gouda and a couple of picks by Matt in Smoked Wensleydale and Bronte Black.

We decided before we sat down that this was to be an informal session with no real agenda, other than making the odd tasting notes.  So we set about the beer in an order I felt would work best, made a few observations, chatted a while and then nibbled the cheese as we went to see how the choices worked.

First up was Ilkley Brewery‘s Ilkley Black, a 3.7% Dark Mild.  It poured black and had a red hue when held to the light, a small head which didn’t last and had very little carbonation as you could expect from the style.  Aromas of roasted malts and chocolate carried through into the first sip and had a good roasted after-taste.  When paired with the cheeses it didn’t really have the depth to stand up to any of our selection, with fairly dire results with the Poacher and Old Amsterdam, “wet dog” tastes will never be a winner.

Moving onto the Anchor Brewing Co. 5.6% Porter.  A firm favourite of mine and one I thought Ben would want to try early in his beer tastings.  It poured black and had a red hue when held to the light, lively head which lasted the duration of the drink.  With aromas of sweet caramel, black treacle, vanilla and woody notes it’s a beer you just have to keep on sniffing.  Its smooth, thick mouth feel and bitter/sweet balance is spot on in my opinion. Best match was with the Stilton, but a definite no no with the Poacher.

Some may say my next choice is the odd one out in the evenings line-up, but I had just received it the day before and was looking forward to trying it.  I also thought it would help break things up a little and it is a ‘dark’ beer after-all.  Hardknott Code Black, is a bottle-conditioned 5.6% Black India Pale Ale (see here for links before you comment).  Dave of Hardknott also explains that “Black IPA is completely contradictory and silly.  We all know there’s no point to such a beer, apart from to keep all those beer geeks happy“… and you can’t say fairer than that.  All said and done, it immediately brought a smile to my face, the huge citrus hit, mainly grapefruit, bursting from the bottle. Rather surprisingly it poured more a murky-browny-red but with a good head which stuck around.  Before tasting, the freshness and big fruity notes are in your face and led nicely to the punchy bitterness and gentle roastiness.   As it warmed in the glass the roasted malts came through much more.  My opinion was that aside from the Smoked Wensleydale, each cheese went well and more importantly the beer stood up to the Poacher.

The next choice was to be the Buxton Brewery Tsar, a bottle-conditioned 9.5% Imperial Russian Stout.  As with the Hardknott IPA, I was looking forward to finally trying this coveted beer.  It poured pitch-black and with an obvious oily appearance, the suspense was killing me so I got stuck in! The aroma had a fair bit going on with on overriding earthiness, peat, burnt malts and the alcohol was upfront and letting me know it was there.  First tastes brought liquorice and a roasted, smokey deep hop bitterness.  As it warmed a little the sweetness was more noticeable along with hints of coffee, 100% cacao and more alcohol!  A lovely drop!  At this point I had given up on the Smoked Wensleydale, and yet again the Poacher didn’t pair favourably.  This was fine by me and I enjoyed more of each of the Stilton, Bronte and Amsterdam.

Maybe rather naively I thought we should save the Summer Wine Brewery Barista until nearer the end of the evening due to its caffeine bomb status.  I think with hindsight this should have been drunk before the Buxton Tsar.  This 4.8% Espresso Stout announced itself with unmistakable honk of freshly brewed coffee, along with tobacco and whiff of ashtray.  Pretty potent stuff.  The result of drinking this after a 9.5% RIS is that the Barista came across as thin and reminded me more of drinking an iced coffee, strong iced coffee.  Its flavours were well-defined but as I have no reference point I can’t be sure whether this beer was spoilt by the previous beer or maybe I just didn’t enjoy it as much as other beers I’ve tried from Summer Wine.  To add insult to injury the cheeses didn’t get along well with this beer either.

To round the evening off I had plucked a bottle of The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 from the back of my beer cupboard.  Bottled on 15th February this year, this 10.1% stout has received the plaudits and I couldn’t wait any longer to try it.  Whether it was the beer taking over or just a cumulative effect of the other beers, I didn’t make too many notes.  We both enthused over its luxury.  With flavours ranging from caramel and vanilla through to black treacle and dark chocolate and its smoothness in the mouth were just a joy.  Loved this beer! and I didn’t bother with any more cheese at this point.

All in all a cracking evening and something we will be looking to recreate again soon with a few other people involved.  I’m thinking beers of Belgium may be the way to go next time around.

Steve – my CABPOM would have to be Hardknott Code Black and Old Amsterdam Gouda.  It sounds like a Mission Impossible plot.  But to be honest I think I need to undertake further cheese/beer pairing research to get the hang of this.