Drunk Noise's Golden Pints 2017
Still with rather bleary eyes we might be a little late to the party in rounding up our favourites of the last year, but like a truly great pint we had to mull over it a little while longer (or rather carry on coming back to it time and time again). Anyway... without further ado here are our Golden Pints for 2017!
BEST SMALL PACK BEER
CLOUDWATER X THE VEIL
In a year dominated by the haze craze, by the uses of the words #murky and #juicy it's only fair the apex, and the natural conclusion of a style could take the crown. Though many are understandably sick and tired of DIPAs this and DDH that - for us this was an awakening, a pivotal moment of sorts. Having long lagged behind the US in vast areas of Beer Laryness Cloudwater, still not even three years old, have been consistently producing some of the best beers in the UK and dare we say the entire planet.
Chubbles, a replication of the collab brewed with forerunners The Veil was a massive, instagram wrecking Triple IPA, full of tropical mango and peach. With an utterly silky mouthfeel it had no right to taste so extraordinarily big, and yet so well refined. It was a go big or go home, carpe diem to the max stunner, and ultimately the truest reflection of 2017 in beer.
At it's best can, or bottle packaging can be an art form. But, to be honest that makes the form seem really... rather dull. But, Kasper Ledet's charming work for the Danish microbrewery is a fiendishly clever usurping of that tedious, capitalist model.
Indeed, a playful, wicked sense of humour is the perfect accompaniment to the seriously exceptional beers incased within. At times they don't so much as catch your eye but punch you square in the jaw with their aesthetic brilliance. Though tonally they coexist beautifully, all are entirely unique, each with a story to tell.
Way back when we had a sneaky suspicion that The Axe might turn into something rather special, though even we were perhaps a little surprised to see how far it has come. Curation is the key here, with a brilliantly updated tap list online revealing a consistently stunning collection across the board.
Helpful servers, hearty and diverse food also deserve a mention in a spot where you are more likely to get chastised for not trying a brew beforehand rather than the other way round. On that note we've regurarly experienced pint pullers giving completely frank advice on preference and taste.
Declaring a beer not up to scratch might not be good for business short term, but honest opinion works wonders across a year. Moreover, if we were to create a category for 'Best Tap Takeover' Other Half's appearance for London Beer Week would be nailed on as a front runner. If we're to go by anything from last year, 2018 looks pretty special for The Axe.
This was a particularly hard category, be sure to check out the rest below!
BEST BEER ON TAP
DOUBLE DRY HOPPED MYLAR BAGS
Speak of the devil. This golden elixir is the stuff that Untappd hounds dream of. Air-freighted in from Brooklyn are expectations were high and our wallets were emptied... But dear god did this live up to everything we've ever heard about. All the queue culture, all the Other Half is the new champagne for terrible human beings *ahem* I mean businessmen, all of it disappeared with one sip of this.
Thick and creamy, yet zesty and light, it's a shapeshifting brew that's only continuing quality is it's sheer and utter brilliance. Only slightly sweet and hopped to an inch of it's life, it's a vortex of tropical fruit and resinous pine. Someone get on SkyScanner to look for flights to Brooklyn please. Dear lord this is a great beer.
BEST CRAFT BEER SHOP
CLAPTON CRAFT N4
Craft Beer shops are a dime a dozen these days, which is clearly no bad thing. Yet, there are admittedly few truly great havens for beer nerds. Clapton Craft N4 is undoubtedly one of those, where a superbly curated selection is only matched by the enthusiastic and knowledgable staff.
No sales bullshit and a plethora of UK, European and US mainstays and oddities make for a brilliant experience. And, it's that quality, experience, that Craft Beer must create in order to justify both it's price, and its namesake. If there's only one place we're allowed to get lost in labels, bottles and piled high fridges - this is it.
Note - this is our nearest and dearest CC, all the others are pretty special too!
BEST NEW PUB
BRAVE SIR ROBIN N4
We shouldn't really be too surprised with Stroud Green's latest success story, seeing as it comes from the brains behind the Rose & Crown (Kentish Town). Yet, we weren't quite ready for the unique intimacy, superb food and craft selection.
On our inaugural visit we opted for Burning Sky's quenching Arise alongside Lost and Grounded's stunning new dunkel - hardly a style we get too excited about, but boy was this a beauty. We were also impressed to see a fridge full of Mikkeller, Modern Times, Wylam and more, often an all too easily overlooked aspect of the average neighbourhood boozer.
Through a few returns it's clear this joint isn't about to let up anytime soon. Friendly staff, an abundance of Verdant options and more Hygge than you can shake a stick at, prove this corner pub is really something to shout about. You'll see us firmly in a booth for whatever they throw at us in 2018 (please, please let it be more Brisket, Mac & Cheese, and Poutine from Cue Point).
These days trust and value for money makes up for an exorbitant amount of worth we stake in a brewery. In 2017 with beers hitting six or even seven pounds for the good stuff, there's really a minuscule margin for error, but one in which Northern Monk have never truly fallen foul.
There is also perhaps a more significant signifier of a good brewery, of one that delivers your favourite styles while also tempting you into the great unknown of darker, or wilder waters. Last year alone we've tried superb White Stouts, Stouts, Saisons, APAs, Wild Ales, Neapolitan Pale Ales, Fruit Beers and of course brilliant Session IPAs, Rye IPAs, IPAs, NEIPAs, DIPAs (it was 2017 of course).
None have truly been bad, most have been exceptional, and over a remarkable (and rather worrying) amount of beers Northern Monk have pushed our taste boundaries, while simultaneously luring us in with what we know and love. A visit to the home of these forerunners confirmed this with flying colours, this is a brewery at the top of their game, and one that is only going to get better.
Honourable Mentions: Cloudwater (duh), Other Half, Verdant, Deya, Beavertown, Mikkeller, pretty much any single brewery we have named so far have been incredible in 2017.
BEST UP-AND-COMING BREWERY
Wylam are by no stretch of the imagination a new brewery but a year of superb reinvigoration, and some simply exceptional beers, make them a shoe-in for this category. Of late 'Attracting Humans', '45:33' (pictured above), 'The Man Behind The Door', 'Open To Persuasion', 'Moob It Moob It' and so many, many more have been genuine masterclasses in finding a niche, without conforming to formulas.
Honourable Mentions: UnBarred, Black Iris, Beerbliotek.
BEST BEER MOMENT
CLOUDWATER TOUR & TASTING
We get a little teary-eyed just thinking about our pilgrimage to the Manchester greats and rightly so, here's what we said at the time:
What resonates more than anything is a sense of openness and community. After all, no one has made the perfect beer yet. Our tour guide cites Barrel store near-neighbours Track as having the best pale ale in the market.
Above a container empty bottles lay propped up against one another. As we leave we spot half stuck post-it notes dotting a whiteboard listing unannounced, rather exciting sounding beers. And, these signifiers are by no means outliers.
This all made for a rather inspiring and reinvigorating moment for us. Watching the lauded brewery still try and work everything out was, in all honesty, a bit of an epiphany. Though beer in the UK has a long way to go in terms of quality, culture and ethics, it's these folks that are at the forefront - and we can't think of anyone better to lead the charge.
BEST OF THE REST AKA CRAFT LEGENDS
- Exploring everything that Lisbon's burgeoning scene has to offer!
- Mikkeller's tap takeover at Thirsty, Cambridge - something we thought would never happen there.
- Trying an actual, real life beer from Cantillon.
- Making an impromptu visit to Brew York's superb Keg Fest North.
- Diving into anything UnBarred have to offer.
- That NW DIPA Ekuanot that blew our minds.
- Revisiting the delightful Pivni in York.
- Reading whatever shenanigans Pilot are up to on Twitter.
- Good Beer Hunting is still really, really good.
- James Beeson's writing is still really, really good.
- Homebrewing ourselves, more to come on that front...