Now I know you have been waiting for it, but here it is. The feet on the ground, beers you can buy everywhere (more or less) Golden Pints. The definitive guide to what really is good, not what really is rare or odd. Let's get straight in with the most important category of all:
Best UK Cask Beer
Ah, so many contenders and since this is a list of best, not worst, I'll miss out the many duffers that I've been unwise enough to purchase. You know who you are, because I've written about you.
Funnily enough it is the so called "despicable" Wetherspoon that has caught my eye in number one and number two position. Both are from their American Brewers Showcase. I also have to add one of my own personal favourites, which makes the bronze position. So, in reverse order:
3rd: JW Lees Plum Pudding. Christmas in a glass indeed
2nd:Stone Supremely Self Conscious Black Ale. This lovely, hoppy, Black IPA was a clear number one until along came:
1st: Pretty Things Jack D'Or Saison Americaine. Simply magnificentand just squeaks ahead of no.2.
A further point that must be made and cannot be a co-incidence, is that both first and second were brewed at Adnams. Best UK Keg Beer
3rd: Hello My Name is Mette Marit. Yes a BrewDog beer. I reckon they do do great dark beers.
2nd: Thornbridge Imperial Raspberry Stout. It did what it said on the tin. Luscious
1st: Kiwi Wit by Camden Brewery. A one off for Mark Dredge's new book launch. It was absolutely lush. Bring it out permanently. Immediately!
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
I don't drink much of this at all, but two beers, both late in the day, caught my eye and both are from breweries within a brewery:
Joint winners are:
Brabo from Brains Craft Brewery. Clean, delicious, Belgian style Pale Ale brewed in collaboration with Des De Moor.
Triple C from Thwaites Crafty Dan Brewery, which shows how to use hops without making it a yukky muddy mess as so many new wave brewers do. Cleanliness in beer is so undervalued these days. It shouldn't be.
Best Overseas Draught Beer
This is a time and place thing. Uerige Alt drunk in the schwemme at source in Düsseldorf. Beer is also about occasion and, in good company, there is not many better places to be, or a better beer to drink. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Something guezey at the Great British Beer Festival. Or anywhere. Almost certainly from Cantillon.
Best Collaboration Brew
Allgates Quaker House Stout. It was brewed in collaboration with me and was bloody good. Best Overall Beer
Kiwi Wit by Camden Brewery I still think about it. My own stout a close second. I still think of that too. They really were that good. Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
I like the simplicity of Tickety Brew from Manchester
Best UK Brewery
Adnams for reasons already stated. I even liked their Dry Hopped Lager.
Best Overseas Brewery
I haven't drank enough stunners to award anything here, but as it is over the Irish Sea an honourable mention to Okells. Their Manx Pale Ale is a beauty.
Best New Brewery Opening 2013
Can't think of any that really impressed enough to make an award.
Pub/Bar of the Year
My local, the Tandle Hill Tavern. It's where my friends are.
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013
Very impressed by the beer quality (not by the prices though) in Pie and Ale, Manchester, but the award has to go to The Well and Bucket in London for atmosphere and choice (they need to keep an eye on cask quality though) and closely followed by the Pelt Trader for great quality beer and great service, though it needs to be made a bit less soulless.
Beer Festival of the Year
Great British Beer Festival. It is still the dog's bollocks when it comes to putting on a show.
Supermarket of the Year
I rarely buy any beer in them. No award but I do like browsing in Waitrose.
Independent Retailer of the Year
As above. Online Retailer of the Year
Best Beer Book or Magazine
Mark Dredge's "Craft Beer World". Fresh and readable. Enthusiastic and well thought out. Took a knackered formula and brought it back to life.
Best Beer Blog or Website
3rd: Total Ales by Matt Curtis. Long but readable. I like it a lot
2nd: The Beer Diary by Chris Hall. Always a good read, even when I disagree with him.
1st: The Beer Nut. Unsurpassed in his beer descriptions and his enthusiasm for his subject. Best Beer App
What Pub by CAMRA.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
3rd: @OkellsAles - Mike Cowbourne for his interesting links
2nd: @Robsterowski. To the point and not just there for the hell of it.
1st: @cshallwiter. Chris Hall. On fire at the moment.
Best Brewery Website/Social media
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year
Lees Bitter and a packet of mini cheddars always goes down well.
Phew. That took a lot longer than I'd imagined it would.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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Contact and General Information
Who is Tandleman?
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
If you wish to email me you can do so by using this address: tandleman[at]yahoo.co.uk
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