31 December 2018

Hazy recollection

It's the season for pointless time-consuming traditions and dull end-of-year lists: yes, The Golden Pints are upon us once more. 2018's deliberation beer is one I acquired at the Mikkeller takeaway bar in Copenhagen airport with my final fistful of kroner. Hazy is a New England IPA of 6.6% ABV, an opaque orange-yellow, topped by a thick white head. In the minus column there's a pinch of dreggy yeast and a rising garlic note as it warms; the principal plus, however, is a massive juiciness -- mostly sweet orange but there's a balancing citric bitterness too, from the Simcoe, I'm guessing. Three months on from canning and this was still a perfect example of this style done well. It does need to be consumed cold, though: I was only half way through deliberations when it warmed up to the point of losing juice. A lesson for me to make my decisions quickly. Anyway, without further review, here are...

The Golden Pint Awards 2018

Best Irish Cask Beer: O Brother: The Whippersnapper
This cask-conditioned Berliner weisse ran a close race against another oddity, Third Barrel's Raspberry Stout, but just pipped it.

Best Irish Keg BeerUrban Brewing: Barrel Aged Sour
Barrel-aged pale farmhousey beers rocked my world this year. Extremely honorable mentions go also to Rascals for the Chardonnay Sparkling Ale and DOT's Dainty Wood. This one, while perhaps not the most complex, had the best mix of classic wild-fermented and wood-aged flavours, very like an authentic Belgian gueze. I hope they can recreate it, and that there are customers in the local market who appreciate this sort of thing.

Best Irish Bottled Beer: Larkin's: Baltic Porter
This award is based not solely on the quality of the beer -- though that is consistently excellent. It's almost as much the availability: this one has been there for me at regular intervals throughout the year; occasions when I just want something unfussy but great to drink. It looks to have been renamed now, as "Dark Matter", but it still tastes perfect.

Best Irish Canned Beer: Hope: Hop Hash DIPA
My standout from The Big Grill Festival this year translated perfectly into canned form. Citric hoppy deliciousness.

Best Overseas Draught: Purpose: Smoeltrekker #68
Another one of those barrelled sour blondes, hailing from Colorado but showing up on tap at the Leuven Innovation Beer Festival back in the spring. All the oaky spices.

Best Overseas Bottled BeerSierra Nevada: Tequila Barrel Otra Vez
I've been a bit grumbly about Sierra Nevada's harmless gose-alike but I was genuinely wowed when I happened across a bottle of the tequila-barrel-aged version.

Best Overseas Canned Beer: Collective Arts: Ransack the Universe
In Ireland, "Overseas canned beer" is mostly going to mean "some murk from England with an abstract design on it" -- there are a hell of a lot of those on the market at any given moment and I don't bother trying to keep up with them. So instead I'm picking some murk from Canada with a sort-of abstract design on it, and very nice it was too.

Best Collaboration Brew: Jester Zinne
This one from De La Senne and Jester King -- barrels, funk, sour: you get the picture -- could equally have been awarded Best Overseas Bottle but I'm slotting it into the collaboration bracket where there's less competition instead.

Best Overall Beer: Urban Brewing: Barrel Aged Sour
Scouring the above for the most memorable, pupil-dilating, beer experience of the year, and I think this is the one.

Best Branding: Kinnegar
The Donegal brewer switched its minimalist monochrome designs to the new busy cartoon bunnies and their associates. I haven't seen it on a label yet, but I loved the design for Rustbucket, featuring the late eponymous doggo.

Best Pump Clip: Beerbliotek: Shakes Fist Angrily
Still amused by the sheer daftness of this.

Best Bottle/Can Label: YellowBelly: Covert Operation
The Molloy's guys and YellowBelly are up to something. With a fox.