I have skipped a few categories where I really don’t have enough experience to form an opinion – I hope you’ll forgive me.
Best UK Draught Beer
I don’t, sadly, get to the pub nearly as often as I’d like to, so a lot of my beer drinking is in bottle form. However, I recently came across Binghams Vanilla Stout and frankly, it’s phenomenal.
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Bristol Beer Factory‘s Southville Hop. Simply magnificent and flawless; I only wish it was more easily available but London supermarkets don’t bother to stock it.
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Ska Brewing‘s Modus Hoperandi. A recent discovery when having lunch in Byron Burgers, it’s a hop explosion – not to mention proof, if any were needed, that great beer can come in cans.
Best Pumpclip or Label
In terms of pumpclips, I love the London Brewing Co‘s design – as with all the best graphics, it’s a strong, simple shape that lends itself beautifully to being coloured for each beer.
For labels, I still adore the still-slightly-homebrew look of The Kernel.
Best UK Brewery
That’s a little like asking a parent who their favourite child is. Living in London, I’m horribly spoiled for local breweries. For their range, and their endless open weekends, I have to go for London Fields.
Pub/Bar of the Year
Another tough question; for the sheer range of well kept beers available, The North Pole in Islington deserves to be singled out.
Beer Festival of the Year
I skipped the Great British Beer Festival this year, although by all reports Olympia is a vastly superior venue.
I did, however, get invited down to the Faversham Hop Festival which pretty much takes over the entire town for a weekend of beer, music and morris dancers festooned with hops.
Supermarket of the Year
None of them. Sorry, but it feels like supermarkets are stuck in the past peddling the same small selection. Yes, most of them now symbolically support a handful of regional brewers but it’s a pretty miserable attempt.
Independent Retailer of the Year
The Beer Boutique, for the enthusiasm and pure love of beer.
Online Retailer of the Year
A category with a lot of excellent contenders. After a considerable amount of agonising (and coming close to buying lots of beer from several sites as I looked at them again!) the crown goes to Ales by Mail.
Best Beer Book or Magazine
Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass is pure inspiration for any brewer.
Best Beer Blog or Website
There are plenty of beery blogs I read, but Boak and Bailey stands out. Informative, thought provoking and showing the kind of dedication to research that I, frankly, don’t have.
Best Beer Twitterer
@NateDawg27. Only if you like swearing and music as well as beer – but what things go better with a pint?!
Best Online Brewery Presence
Much as I hate to say it, probably the most effective online presence still rests with Brewdog. Publicity seeking brats they may be, but it’s hard to deny that they’re a noisy bunch who make sure you know just what’s happening with them, their beers, their brewery and their bars.
In 2013 I’d most like to…
Get the law changed, and do some home distilling. It’s probably not going to happen.