Blog by Michael McGrorty
Best UK Cask Beer
Rapture, by Magic Rock. I’ve only had this beer once but it was one of those times where everything was perfect. Every sip was an absolute joy and I know that even if I see this beer again it’s never going to live up to that first try. (It will still be absolutely fantastic.)
Best UK Keg Beer
NZ Axe Rocks, by Buxton. The culmination of an epic day and night in Buxton with Steve of the Beer O’Clock Show (among others), this beer lived up to all the hype we bestowed upon it in the two or three hours between finding out about it, praying with every bone in our bodies that it would get put on, and it finally being put on the bar. A blend of NZ Axe Edge and Black Rocks, and as crazily good as that sounds.
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Nelson Simcoe IPA, by Elusive Brewing (Andy Parker). Can I give this to a homebrewer? Who cares, I am. This beer was absolutely stunning. Kindly given to me by Andy when he was up in Edinburgh earlier in the year, I stuck it in my fridge and forgot about it for a few days, as is customary for bottle conditioned beers that have travelled a bit. I cracked it open a few days later, gave it a big sniff and was blown away by the aroma. It was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t think it could get any better, until I took a sip. After that first sip I think the beer lasted around five minutes more. It was gone in around three big gulps. Fantastic stuff.
Best Overseas Draught Beer
Schneider Weiss Original (TAP7), by Schneider Weiss. I’d heard many great things about this brewery but hadn’t managed to taste any of the beers until I saw it on tap in Port Street Beer House, Manchester. After a few sips it instantly jumped straight to the top of my favourite hefeweizens. I just hope I see it again some time soon!
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Modus Hoperandi by Ska Brewing. I remember buying this for nearly a fiver and thinking it was expensive. When I finally got around to drinking it (straight from the can, on a train), it blew me away. I’d happily pay a fiver a can in future!
Best Collaboration Brew
Sky Mountain Sour, by Buxton/To Ol. This was so good I had it twice, in a pub. Very rare for me to do that when faced with a big selection, but it was that good. Even got a small sample of it at the brewery when I visited, which was cool.
Best Overall Beer
NZ Axe Rocks, by Buxton. Reasons above!
Best Branding, Pump Clip or Label
Magic Rock. Instantly recognisable and very fun to look at. Magic Rock’s branding is everything good branding should be. It works so well and not only is it so recognisable your eye is drawn to it as well so it catches your eye as soon as look at a line of up taps.
Best UK Brewery
Buxton Brewery. Everything I have had from Buxton has been absolutely fantastic. From the insanely hoppy Axe Edge to the insanely roasty Rednik Stout, I love all of Buxton’s beers. The night in the Bat when every beer was a Buxton one was completely insane and amazing. Had the chance to drink with the guys from the brewery on a couple occasions as well and they’re all fantastic folk.
Best New Brewery Opening 2013
Pub/Bar of the Year
The Hanging Bat, Edinburgh. Twenty rotating beer lines, fantastic food, regular meet the brewer events. What more could you ask for? I’m glad it’s an hour away otherwise I’d be bankrupt.
Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013
Buxton Tap House, Buxton. Absolutely fantastic pub that makes me wish I lived in Buxton. The food is good, you’re always guaranteed Buxton beers on tap and they have plenty of great beer from other brewers. Oh and of course there’s always the chance you’ll run into somebody who works at the brewery which is very cool.
Beer Festival of the Year
Larbert Real Ale Festival. I only went to two beer festivals this year, this and Scottish Real Ale Festival. The SRAF was awful in my opinion so it only leaves one option. A great wee festival I thought, plenty of decent beers on that were reasonably priced and it was only a twenty minute train ride away.
Supermarket of the Year
Waitrose. They simply have the best selection of any supermarket near me. Had my first (and only ones so far) taste of Jaipur from Waitrose so they’re definitely doing something right.
Independent Retailer of the Year
The Beer Hive, Edinburgh. I could spend hours in this shop, and spend hundreds of pounds. Always guaranteed a great selection of bottled beers, they have a kegerator so you can take some draught beer home, the staff are great and always up for a chat. I also love that they will reserve anything I ask for (although my bank balance doesn’t). Notable mentions to the other Edinburgh bottle shops, Great Grog and Cornelius.
Online Retailer of the Year
Have never bought beer online, so can’t comment on this one!
Best Beer Book or Magazine
Never really read any books or magazines so I can’t comment on this one. Certainly one I’ll be rectifying next year as I look to start writing a lot more myself.
Best Beer Blog or Website
The Beer O’Clock Show! It’s technically a blog so I’m including it. Absolutely love the show!
Best Beer App
Untappd. I honestly would be lost without this. It’s so handy to have a log of all the beers I’ve had, although it does sort of become a game. I don’t generally use it for rating beers but it’s easy to ignore that.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
Colin Stronge. He’s one of the best brewers in the UK and he’s given me advice on numerous occasions. A supremely awesome guy.
Best Brewery Website/Social Media
Honest Brew. Love these guys, they’re always happy to chat and they have a competition every week for free beer. I’m not just saying them because I won the competition one week, honest!
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year
Circus of Sour and a pulled pork roll at Buxton Tap House. Steve suggested it and it just worked.
Follow Michael on Twitter @h_doody #StillThinking