Spurred on by the demise of The Session, I have this suspicion that beer blogging needs to be a wee bit more intentional about adhering to its own traditions. Like The Session, the Golden Pints were born in the UK during the golden age of beer blogging before anyone had a book contract and no one could sell an article to the press if their life depended on it. I am pretty sure that I would find a version of my Golden Pints from years past if I hunted through the Wayback Machine (where much of the incidental archives of this blog sits) but Boak and Bailey have restated the format in their thoughts for 2018 so I am going to just poach and adapt their structure and see what I come up with.
Best English… err… Local Spot. I have to admit that I have a new darling but it is not so much a pub as what really is a gastro pub: Red House West. Inventive food, a great selection of beers with a heaping measure of eastern Ontario craft, a bustling sometimes loud tone, $13 Eggs Benedict on Sundays and its in our end of town. And Labatt 50 always on tap just in case.
Best Establishment Further Afield. Like 2017, I actually did not leave the country this year. Work and college kids have their implications. I have, however traveled and was extremely pleased with Brothers Beer Bistro in Ottawa earlier this month. While not quite Quebecois in its embrace of less traditional ingredients, their two rabbit dishes I tried were fabulous and the beer selection was shockingly good.
Best New Beer of 2018: Hmm… with so much fad and sideshow with the glitter and the brut and the haze, it really has not been a year with a lot to recommend it in terms of the new entries. If I were to report on any change to my buying habits it’s the wave of new simple vernacular Ontario ciders made from just Ontario apple juice. Like Forbidden Dry Cider by Coffin Ridge near Owen Sound. And amongst those Millennials I actually know, a far more common preference than anything beer glittery, hazy or sour.
Best Beer Value of 2018: While at Brothers Beer Bistro, I landed first on a $9 CND Rochfort 8, a fantastic price for when one is out. We get this beer brought in by our state monopoly for wines, spirits and most imported beer for under $4 CND (under $3 USA) and is about as fine a value as you are going to find in beer. I would also give honourable mention to Napanee Brewing‘s Blacklist.
Best Blog or Internet Publication: Boak and Bailey. No real challengers. Earnest places like Beer Advocate or GBH might suggest themselves as a supply of beer journalism but never reaches the level the B+B offer seemingly from their kitchen table. Plus they provide the weekly round up, the wit, the history, observational vignettes and many other forms of writing. I suspect these two are actually about seven people backed by some shadowy investment consortium.
Best Beer Book: There is only one this year, Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out by Josh Noel. Important beer business journalism expressed in very long form without a hint of agenda or interest. Here is my review from July. And it is thoroughly devoid of food pairing suggestions, style guide parroting or three or four figure numbers ending in “1” in the title.
Best Beer Twitter: It’s a bit boring saying, ho-hum, @thebeernut but he’s really that fun to follow. So, that being said, I am going with Katie of @shinybiscuit – especially for her tweets about Tom. And her ever changing hair colour.
Biggest Brewing News: I think it might be the collapse of North American brewing equipment manufacturer DME if only because (1) they have sold their gear so widely, (2) there is an aspect of the role of Chinese steel in the market that needs greater understanding and (3) I have a suspicion that there is more to the story – something perhaps salacious even – than the early somewhat formulaic explorations at a distance seem to suggest. As I noted, I know a number of those involved in the circle around the issue but there are some significant gaps still needing to be explained like why was there no provincial business development intervention… and where did all that cash go?
Best Work Done In The Cause Of Good Beer: Lars Garshol. If Boak and Bailey seem to pull of all they do from the kitchen table, Lars never seem to be home. He has discovered and described the entire works of traditional northern European kveik brewing. He is so central to the entire topic that I created #TheLawOfLars and, surprisingly, it almost made sense!
Other comments on 2018: I can’t recommend a magazine or other publication as there seems to have been a definite slump in that area. A bit of a relapse into trade PR for my tastes, no out reasonably due to those involved being constantly on survival mode. Interestingly, there has been a concurrent set changes such as magazines folding, columnists being let go, personal departures from trying to write for pay, personal writing for health reasons. A certain realism struck after years of somewhat irrational exuberance. Yet, still sad for those stuck in the middle of the problem.
So, there you are my thoughts and, to other beer bloggers, a gauntlet drop. Let’s see what others think about the year gone by.