2011 Review

Well, just as I’d finished drafting this post, The Golden Pints were announced for 2011. Given that I’d already done this, I’m going to post it up anyway in lieu of a Golden Pint list, with a few additions.  Anyway, I like lists, and it’s been fun running through what beers I’ve particularly enjoyed over the year. By way of a cop-out, I’m not going to rank the best beers this year, because I think they are all fantastic. What’s even more exciting is that I’m sure I’ve missed loads; which means 2012 will have to rectify that.

So, what about a Brewery of the Year? A difficult one. When I think of Breweries that made 2011, three stand out for me; Magic Rock, Buxton and Red Willow.

Given the shared experience of the people involved – both from a brewing and a retail point of view – Magic Rock would have had to have really worked hard to fail. Their relatively small core range covers every base, their pumpclips catch the eye; and their beer tastes good. When you really get into the range, the beers are deceptively simple, too. They’ve worked their arses off; doing countless Meet The Brewer nights all over the country, brewing to capacity, and even introducing a couple of new beers in Rock Star and Bearded Lady. But that Yorkshire grit and no-nonsense approach is still there. No fuss – just taste – and lots of it.

Buxton pull a similar ‘one foot in each camp’ trick but go even further. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a brewery combine fairly hop-forward, or ‘big’ beers such as Axe Edge or Tsar, and yet appeal to the average ‘pub-bound’ drinker. Buxton do this by again turning down the fuss, and just brewing tasty, tasty beer. People that know me know that I’m a Pale Ale freak, and when Moor Top emerged – just a single-hopped, simple Pale Ale – it blew me away (See also Hawkshead’s superlative Windermere Pale and NZPA). You think you’ve seen it all from a style, and then another taste comes along that make you realise that the genre is not dead. Buxton are a brewer for all camps, and one that’s already been popping up on many ‘best of’ lists already.

Finally, I have to mention RedWillow. I know how hard Toby works, and trust me, the guy is a machine. A tired, Oyster-shucking machine – but a machine nontheless. Red Willow flip the previous statements made about Buxton and MR around; simple-sounding and looking beers that reveal hidden depths and innovation when tasted. Fathomless – turns out to be an authentic Oyster Stout. Ageless – turns out to be one of the most aromatic, juicy-tropical-fruit bombs tasted all year. The awards have slowly, slowly begun to trickle in for the Macclesfield brewer, and I’m sure 2012 will only result in a bigger award cabinet being needed.

Beers of the Year

Ok. As I said above, I can’t pick one, really. Here are the ones (in no particular order) that I really enjoyed, from reasons such as taste, to simply being the right beer at the right time. If your beer is on here, then thank you for brewing such Good Stuff.

York Micklegate Porter – Magic Rock Human Cannonball, High Wire & Rapture – Maui Big Swell IPA – Rooster’s Iron Man IPA – Buxton Moor Top – Buxton Axe Edge – 8 Wired IRA – RedWillow Ageless – Sierra Nevada Juniper Black – Brodie’s Hackney Red – Rooster’s Baby Faced Assassin – Oakham Citra & Inferno – Brewdog Bramling Cross IPA – Revolutions Night Porter  & Propaganda – Hawkshead NZPA & Windermere Pale – Durham Magic IPA (Bombay 106) – Odell Mycernary – Redemption Big Chief – SummerWine Rouge-Hop – Marble Summer – Kirkstall Three Swords Pale – Raw Pacific Ghost IPA – Ilkley Smoked Witch – Cropton Yorkshire Warrior – Camden Helles – Hardknott Light Cascade – Black Isle Porter – Stroud Amber Ale – De Molen Op & Top – Five Towns Schneider V2 – Birrificio Italiano Tipopils – Williams Bros Joker IPA  – Great Northern Wheat IPA – Theakston’s Lightfoot … and the list goes on….

Of course, I’ll have missed some out. It’s impossible not to. If your beer has ended up on this blog, however, then it’s The Good Stuff, rest assured.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Mark and Andy for organising the year’s Twissups, and Luke Downing at Dough Bistro and Nick and Vickie at Homage to Fromage for opening their businesses and kitchens to the possibilities of Food and Beer. Dean Pugh at Mr Foley’s remains a constant source of info and orchestrator of some excellent bottle-swap nights (and Wing nights, and NFL nights!), and IPA Day was a great (and quite drunk) event. We are very lucky indeed. Of course, all the staff at BeerRitz have been stars, as always. We are lucky to have such a place in Leeds (and we almost didn’t for a while; thanks again, Zak!)

Blogs? Well, there’s been some great blogs starting up or coming into their own in 2011. For me, Ghost Drinker and Beersay deserve special mentions, as they bring an enthusiasm and exuberance about beer onto the screen that is sometimes sorely missed from blogs. On the other side of the coin, ATJ’s and Zak’s blogs always provide food for thought from inside the industry and I’m glad they’re still churning out quality content after all these years. I appreciate how hard it can be to blog these days when juggling (a number) of jobs and when I see others doing it, it just spurs me on to quit moaning and get writing.

Finally, I’d just like to thank everyone that reads TGS, and that I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a few beers with over the year. You’re a good bunch, and despite the bickering (which makes it interesting, let’s face it) I’m happy to be part of such a vibrant, varied and passionate community. Hopefully, 2012 will be an interesting year for me, and I hope to be able to contribute to UK Brewing in a way that I know many of you do, day in, day out.

Cheers!

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About leighgoodstuff

Blog: https://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/ I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass. If you'd like to submit a piece for Tavern Tales, or contact me about any Freelance writing you think I would be suited to, then don't hesitate to contact me via email here.

Posted on 10/12/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I like the way you’ve done this Leigh, GP is a great idea but it’s so difficult to choose, it’s reassuring though that you picture a pretty similar list above to my own.

    Red Willow are one of those really annoying ones for me as they are not far away, but are rarely seen in Stoke, what I’ve had was brilliant and what I read about them the same. I’m trying to get RW into my local deli “Brown and Green” so with luck that will change soon.

    Thanks so much for the extremely kind and unexpected mention, it’s a great encouragement to get a thumbs up from someone like yourself who’s blog I read with awe at times with some of the fine food recipes and beer parings you come up with, plus alongside Ghostdrinker too, means a lot mate so a hearty CHEERS from Stoke.

  2. John Clarke

    I think it was on last year’s Golden Pints (or something similar) I flagged up RedWillow as one to watch for 2011 so as you can imagine I’m feeling pretty smug about this one (also helped by the fact that I have numerous regular RedWillow outlets within easy travelling distance – I have managed to persuade my team at work to have our meal at the Mark Addy next Tuesday – they just happen to have a hosue beer from Toby. What a lucky coincidence!).

  3. From the youngest Leeds beer blog (I think) to the oldest Leeds beer blog, I give my respect and thanks for the very kind words.

  4. Great post Leigh.

    I like lists too. For what its worth, my list would be very similar to yours, but I think I would also include

    Pandemonium Pale from Brew Co in Sheffield,
    Sunshine IPA from Fernandes Brewery in Wakefield
    Black Band Porter from Kirkstall Brewery in Leeds
    Black Summit IPA from Ilkley

    I also had some High Tor from Buxton Brewery yesterday which deserves a special mention as it was excellent

    By the way great to see you the other day.

    Here’s to a great New Year of beer tasting in 2012. With it being a Leap Year there is an extra day of beer drinking to be had…

    • Hi Rob – thanks for the additions – High Tor is really, really good. Glad you’re enjoying the Buxton – go and get some Moor Top! Always a pleasure to see you and I’ll be at Ilkley in the new year – promise! Like your point about the leap year!

  1. Pingback: Golden Pints 2011 | gastroturf

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