2017 was an incredible year for us at Beer More Social. We’ve met some pretty great people, drank some cracking beers and had a lot of fun. We’ve also been involved in several important conversations and debates. This next year is set to be even better with exciting projects, events and new friends to beer more social with!
Before we look ahead to 2018, let’s have a look at our Golden Pints of 2017. We’ve all chipped in here and there covering different categories and borrowing or creating our own too. There are so many good beers, that given another day (it’s already 4 days later than planned) – everything might have been totally different, but here we are…
Best UK Keg Beer
Adam: Cloudwater DIPA V13 There was something special about v13, not just in it’s usual DIPA release build up, but also as it was the end of the V series – it tasted that bit more….seminal! Crying into my glass at the end thinking Cloudwater would never release a DIPA again….
Kate: Siren Craft Brew Fresh Cream 4 Orange, the beer of IMBC Friday for me, sadly only got to try one before they ran out. Partly my fault because as soon as I tasted it I told everyone to go straight away and get one. Smooth milky chocolate, not overly sweet orange, slightly oaky. Massively accomplished.
Sean: Verdant Putty was probably a favourite this year when I managed to get it!
Soo: Magic Rock Maple Common Grounds I think this beer was a little responsible for my worst hangover of 2017 after Leeds Beer on the Friday night. Absolutely delicious, toasty maple and so good I had 2 (or was it 3?)
Predictably most of us went with the same one here (and a Golden Pints fave it seems!) it had to be Track Sonoma which is consistently excellent.
Soo: For me it has to be Neptune On The Bounty. I’m a huge fan of dark flavourful beers on cask, and this is just perfect.
Best UK Can
Adam: Verdant Neal Gets Things Done. Most of what I’ve drank this year has been 8% and above, and for a reason – the thickness and mouthfeel of stronger beers is what I love, and generally, the lack of this in weaker beers is why I generally steer away from them (much to my downfall!). However, for a 6% IPA, this is incredible and I really don’t know how it could be bettered at that ABV, but I’m eager to wait and see!
Kate and Soo: Beavertown/ Green Cheek The You Zoo. It’s no secret that we both love tea in beer. This one starts zesty and citrusy, and finishes with a gentle fragrant tea flavour. Also brilliant can artwork.
Sarah: It will always be Beavertown Lupuloid… just cannot get enough of that beer!
Sean (and Soo again!): Cloudwater Mormora Sour. We had this one midweek evening and instantly loved it! Sean got a couple for his birthday so shared the second can with 3 other non-beer drinkers in a field. And it still tasted incredible.
The Veil/ Cloudwater Chubbles.
I think we all wanted this to feature in our list so here it is. A huge tropical, murky triple IPA at a double-digit 10%, and oh so drinkable! Has great hazy memories attached to it too, chubbles day being one of our more infamous days out. Satans anyone?
Best Overseas Draught
Adam: Other Half All Enigma Everything was just picked at random at IMBC and blew me away. Like Chubbles in the way that a 10% is so smooth and drinkable. It was also the first beer of the day – when will I learn?! Safe to say, I went back for a few more whilst it was still available.
Kate: Stigbergets Amazing Haze. I’ve tried quite a few beers from this brewery in 2017, they seem to have perfected the hazy IPA and I haven’t had a bad one yet. This for me is a favourite, it was on in Biercab in Barcelona over the beer festival weekend and I went back for more on quite a few occasions. Delicious juiciness.
Sean: I was lucky enough to catch Hopping Frog Boris the Crusher at Beermoth in April. Smooth, boozy perfection according to my untappd.
Soo: I keep changing my mind but I think it has to be Dugges Cocoa Cacao as it really was sensational this year! I’m with Sean though too, B.O.R.I.S. was also absolutely banging.
V: Admundsen Marshmellow Psycho Cognac BA at Dark City had to be on the list for me. Chewy marshmallow and chocolate sauce in booze!
Best Overseas Brewery
Adam, Kate & Sarah: Other Half . There is always a concern that a brewery won’t live up to the hype. There was a lot of excitement when it was announced that Other Half would be pouring at Hop City. There were dozens of equally exciting breweries there, but one sip of Green Down To The Socks, and we quickly realised they deserved the accolades! Huge, hoppy, beautiful beers – I love their daydream series that add lactose into the mix too. I look forward to visiting New York again in the near future and paying their taproom a visit!
Sean: Dugges! Cocoa Cacao was amazing wish I’d had it more, the beer of Dark City for me was Cinna Mon and the Cloudwater collab in Vic Secret Sour was spot on!
Soo: Forrest and Main were a wonderful surprise at Indy Man this year and their beers blew me away. Lunaire was sensational and based on this, I tried pretty much everything they brought over the weekend. I had honestly never come across them before but they were definitely my highlight of Indy Man!
Best Overall Beer
Adam: Buxton/Omnipollo Yellow Belly Sundae. So, I’ve based this on the fact that I can pretty much get this all year round. Yes, I know Buxton tap-room is only a 20 minute drive away, but every other beer I’ve written about seems to be a one-off and not available again, or easily. I’ve had this numerous time over the last few years and every time, it’s blown my socks off. Beautiful, luxurious, thick, sweet, and oh so perfect in the cold weather.
Sean: Other Half DDH Space Diamonds. One of the first OH beers we had, and for me the reason it’s the best beer might not even be that it is necessarily the best tasting (it was excellent) but I was really enthused and didn’t think I would have the opportunity to try the likes in this country, and now they are being brought to our doorstep!
Kate: Verdant /Other Half Now We Are Here. This was a contender for my best UK draught beer but thought it might be cheating as it’s a collab with a US brewery. A cloudy, rich and citrusy DIPA.
Sarah: Beerbliotek Eternal Dankness was beautiful! Dank and juicy with a lovely caramel moutfeel.
V: De Molen Sun and Moon. My feelings for this are pretty strong! A trip to Holland this year led me to a pilgrimage to the brewery which was awesome.
Soo: I’m going with Tiny Rebel Imperial Puft as I have now seen the error in stopping using untappd I have lost track of what I have had. I remember the first sip I had of it at Craft Beer Calling, so this is the one I’ll go for!
Northern Monk. Their Patrons project cans are special aren’t they?! A lovely wrap aroundie thing that you can peel off, telling stories about how the brew came about etc is a lovely touch and gives us the bizarre desire to read a beer label from top to bottom, and then inside too! Not to mention the amazing artwork from the likes of Drew Millward for the DDH Mango Lassi, and the Nautical feels on Black Hole Sun were particular favourites.
Sarah: A sucker for a scandi brewery (and good artwork!) a vote for Beerbliotek cans (as well as the beer in them).
Special mention here to Marble too. In terms of branding, I think it has been absolutely spot on this year. A quick look in an often crowded beer fridge in a pub or bar, and you are always able to pick out a Marble can quickly. Also love the feel of dem cans!
Adam: Cloudwater. Proper biased as it’s my most local, but come on – amazing beer from the source, with great staff too. What’s not to love?! Just don’t stand too near to the heaters in winter….your jeans get dead hot, very fast.
Sean: Magic Rock in Huddersfield. Love this place and it’s still special as we only get over there every few months. Lovely big space with accommodating bar staff, and met some great people there too.
Kate: The one I frequent the most and still my favourite is Cloudwater. I still miss the bright and roomy feel of the old place but the Barrel Store is very unique, has lovely staff, always a magnificent selection which I am always spoiled by, and is associated with many great memories this year. Nice loos too.
Soo: There is something pretty special about Blackjack in the Summer, a monthly affair it seems special and the variety of beers is always good.
Best UK Brewery
Adam: Verdant. A really, really tough choice, but I had to have a winner. Verdant pretty much exclusively brew hoppy beers (although they’ve just released an impy stout), and everything I’ve had from them this year has been nothing short of superb. They’ve now got a canning line in place, hiring more staff and new FVs installed – I can’t wait to see what they’re going to produce in the next 12 months.
Sean: Cloudwater. Sorry to pick the obvious but there are very few occasions where I have seen one of their beers on offer and not bought and enjoyed.
Kate: Oooooh. Tough one. Considering breadth of range, the gold medal for me will have to go to Brew By Numbers. Porter, stout, saison, wit, IPA, I very rarely feel anything other than completely bowled over when I have something from BBNo. New can designs are tasty too.
Soo: Northern Monk. Their festivals, artwork and ideas have been spot on this year. Their DDH Mango Lassi was an absolute joy, their core range is a great go to and the Morelo Cherry Coffee Porter with Other Half was wonderful. Also enjoyed a couple of exclusives at Summer Beer thing!
We have hit the festival circuit hard this year, home and abroad and it was impossible to all decide on one.
IMBC. We almost all agree that this year was the best yet. Not only great beer in a city we all live in or have strong links to, but also extending the social element of beer – hanging out with even more great people, which I think tops off the best festival experience. A few of us did multiple sessions. Soo was there every day either working or drinking, and it was generally a great experience from both sides.
Sean: IMBC was good, but for me Leeds International is my favourite, and has been for the last few years. It’s a little less pretentious, a lot of focus on the space and experience as well as the beer (bonus: I can get the high score on track and field in the same room I got married in!). I think this pips it for me because of the range of people who turn up to it, the opportunities for great chat with folks drinking pints of session IPAs, to others sampling a third of a ridiculous imperial 12% stout!
We have to mention Hop & Dark City too – the latter being Vic’s favourite of the year. Both source the most incredible line up and it totally works!!
Verdant @ Heaton Hops.
A part of the Manchester Beer Week celebrations Verdant did a TTO at the awesome Heaton Hops! All massive fans of the brewery anyway and lucky enough to get our names out of the hat, we then found out that Damien had also called in a favour and arranged a CATERED TTO by our fave street food vendor Nasi Lemak (spoiler alert) with 3 rounds of awesome Malay Street Food! To top it off it was also Key Lime Tau day, so we got a third of that on the way in! We all booked the following morning off so suffice to say it was one of the best TTO we have ever been to.
Sean: I really enjoyed The Veil @ The Pilcrow – loads of superb beers and it was nice to speak to the genuinely humbled brewers who were astonished that we had come to try their brews.
Soo: I think mine would be Verdant too for all the reasons above, but from the SOCIAL side I have to say the Buxton TTO @ Beermoth post Summer Beer Thing was SO MUCH FUN and where we really met some great people. Kate and I had the best time and the beer, although fantastic was almost secondary after a certain point!
Pub/Bar Of The Year
Kate & Adam: We are all in agreement that Heaton Hops is a firm favourite for us. Great bar, run by great, friendly people. Always an awesome selection of beers on tap as well as the latest, greatest stuff in cans & bottles on the shelf too. There was even a whippy ice cream machine with Noa involved at one point – dangerous stuff. Everybody wishes it could be a bit bigger, but the trick is to get there early. It’s also a great feeling when your favourite bar is packed isn’t it! Even better when it is a few miles from our front door.
Sean: Trying to think of all the bars I have been to this year I think right up there is Tiny Rebel Pub Cardiff. Again it is down to excellent staff, which is an asset to any bar, especially in an unfamiliar town. The food and beer range they had was brilliant and a massive bonus was the arcade night upstairs where we could play Mario Kart whilst enjoying Cwtch!
Soo and V: Turks Head Leeds. Consistently awesome beer range, beautiful bar, knowledgable staff and our first taste of Cantillon after Leeds International. Also really impressed with The Muted Horn in Berlin – cannot wait to go back this spring.
Best New Beery Venture according to Soo and Sean…
Reasons to be Cheerful Beer Cafe. Nice people running the bar and well sourced beer. The really welcoming attitude is what I love about it though, everyone is relaxed and comfortable in there.
Fairfield Social Club. Equally as great, and somewhere you can spend an entire afternoon and still want to go back for tea! Great space, atmosphere, food, drinks and music. Totally unpretentious with awesome touches – you do forget you’re in a railway arch!
Best Beer Blog
Soo and Kate do a lot of blog reading and twittering around as you may well know! We both went with the thought-provoking Beer Compurgation for the vast scope of writing, and some of our favourite posts haven’t really been to do with beer at all. From a beer perspective though I always look forward to reading the Cloudwater blog and find it quite fascinating. It requires a cup of tea and some quiet time to digest some of the content but it is well worth it!
As regular attendees of brew taps and GRUB we have eaten some amazing Street Food this year so felt it was an important category to include. We are always super excited to see Hip Hop Chop Shop, Mac Daddies and Holy Crab but we were all in agreement that our absolute favourite would have to be Nasi Lemak. They pop up all over the place and we are always so glad when he does! Jimmy also provided food for the Verdant TTO at Heaton Hops and for that, I will be eternally grateful. Even the two non-veggies will always opt for the vegan fried chicken (VFC) as it’s just great.
Best Indie Bottleshop
Kate: Otter’s Tears. I don’t get to visit as much as I would like as I live about 40 miles away, but whenever I’m visiting my family in Stoke, I love to call in. The selection is huge, and it’s always enjoyable to have a chat with Phil. If you’re ever passing Stoke on Trent, it’s well worth a visit.
Sean: Epicurean for the sheer range of beer on offer and there is always something new.
Soo: I’m going to have to say Beer District in Buxton which is a cracking addition to the area. With a carefully curated range of local craft beer as well as up to date fuss options, there is a great balance as well as awesome coffee and premium spirits. The guys who run it are always up for a chat, and we always walk out with a bag full of great beer!
FINALLY…a category of its own for Best Party: Marble 20th Birthday celebrations. The fringe events were fab, and the Saturday evening was sensational. The band, the beer, the atmosphere and the people were great. We never stopped smiling and laughing – what an amazing evening!
Runner up: Soo’s 30th at GRUB! Jules and Bailey are dead good at making a party ☺
Here’s to 2018 and all it brings!