Arbor

Golden Pints 2015

The annual Golden Pints awards are the UK beer blogging community's version of the Oscars and are gaining steam every year. We've been lucky enough to win eight Golden Pints awards so far this year (thanks Beer O'Clock Show, Brew GeekeryAndy Parker, Beer Is The Answer, Jonny Garrett, Kat Sewell, Beer Revere and Yeastie Boys UK), so thought we should do our own in return.

We don't get out much (which is why, for example, we haven't named a favourite pub below) so a lot of our opinions have, by necessity, come from our daily life running a beer shop. And for us, great beer is about the whole experience of drinking it - where, when, who with, what's going on around us - not just the technical expertise used to brew it. That's why we've adjusted the category names slightly, replacing 'Best' with 'Favourite' - they reflect our own personal and highly subjective journey through an awesome year of beer.

Likewise, we've steered clear of naming a Best Blogger or Tweeter - so many of the UK's greatest bloggers and tweeters are customers, and in some cases, they even write for us, so we wouldn't want to play favourites... You all know who you are. xx
 

Favourite UK Cask Beer

Jen: Moor B Moor Porter at the Crown & Anchor in Brixton. Enjoyed alongside a well-matched dessert and in the company of the two Justins from Moor - the pleasure, the privilege was ours.

Glenn: Arbor Beech Blonde at the Old Nun's Head during one of our more riotous Hop Burns & Boogie excursions. We love pretty much everything these Bristol superstars do.

Favourite UK Keg Beer

Jen: Magic Rock/Stillwater Pina Collision Pineapple Sour Saison. This juicy delight was the beery soundtrack to our summer, enjoyed with many a BBQ. Miraculously we even had enough left over to sell to customers.
Honourable mention: Cloudwater's magnificent DIPA.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose. Andrew from Wild Beer was kind enough to meet with us before we opened the shop, taking us through the brewery with a full range tasting afterwards. We love the way they blur the boundaries and this crazy concoction was one of the favourites of our summer.

Favourite UK Bottled Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour. Yoghurt, mint and cucumber just shouldn't work in a beer. But they do, and it's amazing. And I hate cucumber!
Honourable mention: Siren's Bones Of A Sailor Part III.

Glenn: My bottled beer of the year is an English bitter - a possibly unexpected result. Moor Ready Made 2, brewed with Birrifico Dada, is rich, caramel, malty, hoppy perfection. A beautifully balanced beer.
Honourable mention: Wild Beer Squashed Grape.

Favourite UK Canned Beer

Jen: Moor Return of the Empire English IPA. When we heard Moor were launching in cans, we knew Justin 1's fastidiousness would ensure they launched with the best cans the UK had ever seen. This IPA is a showcase for the new UK Jester hop and it's glorious. Moor's Hoppiness IPA usually gets all the love (and deservedly so), but my heart belongs to the Empire.

Glenn: Could have been any of the Vocation range so went for the one in the middle, Pride & Joy APA. Yet to have a bad beer from these guys - every can we've had in has been exceptional. Have my eye on a 750ml bottle of Naughty & Nice chocolate stout for Christmas Day too.

Favourite Overseas Draught

Jen: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix Dark Matta - one of the only two kegs in the UK, launched at the Beer O'Clock Show's live podcast in November. (Disclaimer: we invested in the Yeasties' crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, but this isn't the only reason this beer won. Though we do want a good return on our investment, right?) 
Honourable mention: Renaissance Fresh Hop Black The RIPA. We put this on at our NZ Fresh Hopped celebration event and people haven't stopped talking about it since. Tastes great in the bottle too.

Glenn: Unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell Tankovna at Duck & Rice in Soho. Almost as fresh as drinking it at the brewery door. The perfect accompaniment for a plate so loaded with sichuan peppers and chilli that it made the back of my head sweat. 
Honourable mention: Tuatara Sauvinova. Lush.

Favourite Overseas Bottled Beer

Jen: Alvinne/Stillwater Wild West, enjoyed at Nuetnigenough during our 36-hour beerathon in Brussels back in February. The staff at this restaurant really know their shit, and recommended us the most incredible beers to go with our food. Go there! 
Honourable mention: Tuatara Conehead, an "air-hopped" IPA (i.e. made with fresh hops that they flew over from Nelson to Wellington) from New Zealand. Dank and resinous, this blows the mind of everyone I push it on. Makes me feel a bit like Timothy Leary.

Glenn: Bruery Rueuze. Everything I look for in a gueuze - funky, fruity, tart, thirst-quenching... Exquisite. Next time I won't drink it at 3am.
Honourable mention: New Belgium Lips of Faith Le Terroir 2015. Cheers Matt Curtis.

Favourite Overseas Canned Beer

Jen: Westbrook Gose. Salty sour goodness has never tasted so good. Could drink this by the bucketload and would, given half a chance.

Glenn: Founders Centennial IPA. For all the reasons Matt Curtis details here.

Favourite Collaboration Brew

Jen: Hawkshead/Crooked Stave Key Lime Tau was the hands-down stand-out at this year's Rainbow Day. I ran across town to beat the crowds at Beavertown and had to cram as much sampling as possible into two hours before heading back to work, which sadly meant a lot of pouring away of great beers. Drinking this - a kettle-soured, lactose-infused golden ale brewed with fresh lime zest and lemongrass - in the blazing sunshine with good people was pretty much beer heaven.

Glenn: Moor/Birrificio Dada Ready Made 2, as detailed above.

Favourite Overall Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.

Favourite Branding

Jen: Brick Brewery. When you stand behind a counter and look at 300+ beers all day long, you quickly work out what works and doesn't work on a beer bottle. I love Brick's branding because of its beautiful simplicity. Its clean design is reminiscent of Penguin Books' classic design.
Honourable mention: Wiper & True and Beavertown's clever 'starry night' initiative for limited edition can runs.

Glenn: Naming no names, but a lot of cans from mobile canning units look terrible. Vocation's labels instantly attract attention and make you forget they're just stickers on a plain metal can. On closer inspection, the intricate designs, different on every can, tell their own stories. 

Favourite UK Brewery

Jen: Moor, but Vocation and Arbor are close contenders indeed. And you should never overlook the Kernel - every time a coconut. It's impossible for them to make a bad beer.

Glenn: Wild Beer, for all the reasons given above and more. They've always blown my mind.

Favourite Overseas Brewery

Jen: 8 Wired Brewing. Saison Sauvin and Tall Poppy were two of my standout beers of the year, and there's nothing like Superconductor when you need a wake-up call. (On a side note, it's weird how New Zealand-centric many of my choices have been for this exercise given how much I couldn't wait to leave the place. But there's no denying the colonies are making great beers. And we're looking forward to trying all of them in January.)

Glenn: New Belgium. I've never been there but read Matt Curtis's blog and tell me it's not one of the most fascinating beer destinations on the planet. We were lucky enough to enjoy a muled bottle of Lips of Faith Le Terroir 2015 that Matt muled back from Colorado at our No More Heroes event in November... no words.

New stuff in store: 11 December

Deck the halls... with shedloads of beer. Here's what's in your Christmas stocking this week.

  • Glorious new 750ml sharing bottles, including Anspach & Hobday's White Coffee Milk Stout, Wiper & True's Winter Ale Abbey Rye and Vocation's Naughty & Nice Chocolate Stout (also now in can too).
  • We went a bit overboard on Bristol breweries this week, knowing how much you love them. From Arbor, we've got their Grifter APA, Breakfast Stout and Basta Rosse, a red ale brewed with Italian brewery Mezzo Passo. We also see the triumphant return of their Yakima Valley IPA, one of the most-requested beers we've ever had. From Wiper & True, we've got Amber Simcoe Steam, Small Beer #13 and Sorachi Ace IPA in addition to the 750ml Winter Ale Abbey Rye. Be quick, these won't hang around.
  • On a South-East London stylee, we've got Partizan's delicious 300th Brew, Don Biere de Garde, as well as Late Knights' roasty Penge Porter and the return of the ultimate shirk, rest and play beverage, Deserter IPA.
  • Also from within the M25, say hello to Big Smoke Brew Co's sublime Underworld Milk Stout and the return of Weird Beard's Duke Of Dank Red IPA. (The clue is in the name.) A little further out, Siren's Pompelmocelo is a delightfully tart grapefruit IPA that will definitely put a pucker in your pint.
  • Brewdog has launched its annual Prototype series, where you get to have your say on which beers should make it onto their core line-up. We've got two this week: Milk Stout (see a theme here?) and Black IPA
  • One final Christmas beer joins the ranks: Rogue Santa's Private Reserve, a hoppy, sprucey, malty amber ale.
  • And finally - because: Star Wars - we've re-upped on Northern Monk's It's A Trap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New stuff in store, 22 October

Your usual round-up of all the fresh goodness hitting our shores this week, kicking off with the freshest of the bunch...

  • Moor Envy Fresh Hop. We can't get enough of Moor's amazing can-conditioned beers and nor can you. Justin at Moor has refused to bottle this beer in the past as he doesn't believe wet-hopped beers stand up to the bottling and aging process. However he's now got his fancy-pants canning action, which has allowed him to capture the freshness and seal it in for you to enjoy. This is a fantastically drinkable beer - get your mitts on it and drink it super-fresh.
  • More Bristol action from the much-loved Arbor: we've got The Ego Has Landed APA in bottle and Rocketman IPA in both bottle and on flagon-fill.
  • Wylam Jakehead hits in bottle!
  • From Liverpool's Mad Hatter, Nightmare on Bold St is a beautiful milk stout recommended by one of our customers who told us to look out for it and grab it if we ever saw it. We did and we are very happy about it.
  • We've also finally got Sussex superstar Dark Star's legendary APA in cans.
  • Brewdog's Pumpkin King hits shelves just in time for Halloween.
  • Some welcome returns from the US - Stone Delicious IPA (gluten-reduced but you'd never know it) and Oskar Blues Pinner Session IPA, which is joined for the first time by Old Chub Nitro, a glorious Scotch Ale you need to add to your autumn arsenal.
  • News flash - we've got new Green Flash. The San Diego brewery's Soul Style IPA brings together Citra, Simcoe, and Cascade hops, allowing citrus and floral notes to break gently on your palate. As good as it sounds.
  • FInally, some Omnipollo re-ups - the phenomenally popular Mazarin Pale Ale is back and we've re-upped on the Bianca Mango Lassi Gose. Yee-hah.

New stuff in store, 15 October

The best new beers! The best new hot sauces! The best old records! Who loves ya, baby? Here's what's new on the shelves this week...

Beers:

  • New breweries alert! We welcome Surbiton's Big Smoke Brew Co to our London shelves. These guys are making some cracking beers, of which we've got three: Medicine Man IPAElectric Eye Pale Ale and Dark Wave Porter.
  • We've also got double can action from Leeds brewery Northern Monk, another new entrant to the HB&B shelves. We've got their terrific New World IPA as well as It's A Trap, a collab Belgian IPA with our friends at Yeastie Boys.
  • Plus after winning all the plaudits on flagon-fill, we've got Mad Hatter Brewing's Toxteth IPA in bottles, as well as Fear Of Eating Words, a hoppy bretted Trappist-style ale.  Get in!
  • From Pressure Drop, we've got the gloriously named and designed Alligator Tugboat IPA, as well as the welcome return of (the equally well-named) Strictly Roots, a beautiful earthy porter made with foraged dandelion and burdock.
  • Buxton Yellow Belly makes its somewhat sinister debut. This beer was one of the hits of last year's Rainbow Project - a peanut butter biscuit imperial stout made with Swedish superstars Omnipollo. (FYI the provocative packaging is the breweries' protest against racists, the most yellow-bellied of them all.)
  • You can't drink enough Arbor Ales it seems, so we've got another one to add to the line-up - Half Day IPA, a super-tasty American Pale Ale from our Bristol buddies.
  • Our first-ever French beers hit the European section - Brasserie du Quercorb is run by former Dulwich residents Jayne and Paul, and they're making some terrific brews. PS - we're the only place you'll find these in London, so drink these and feel special...
  • And as always, phenomenal new beers coming up on flagon-fill...

Sauces:

  • We had a great day on Saturday with Harry from GingerBeard's Craft Preserves and Justin from Moor Beer in the house, launching their new collab sauce, Ghost Pepper Fusion 2015. All of Harry's sauces incorporate beers from Bristol breweries - i.e. practically made for HB&B - so we took the liberty of relieving him of all his stock before he went back home. Choose from Ultimate Stout BBQ Sauce (made with Bristol Beer Factory's Ultimate Stout), Moor Amoor Chipotle Ketchup (made with Moor's Amoor Porter) or the insanely good Beer Bacon & Chilli Jam (made with Arbor's Smokescreen Porter).
  • We've also got two more local sauces lining up on the chilli wall - Vicky's Kitchen Caribbean Pepper Sauce, straight outta West Norwood, and Dalston Chillies' delicious fruity new Bajan Sauce.

Records:

  • Cheers to customer Ian, who brought in a gold mine haul of eclecticness including Roxy Music, Motorhead, Aphex Twin, Black Sabbath, Bikini Kill and an original pressing of Pulp's Different Class with all six inserts... Get in to trawl the bins before Saturday when we're hauling them down to the New Cross Oxjam festival for the day. (Catch us at the Job Centre in Deptford and pick up some sauce and records while you catch loads of awesome bands.) 

New stuff in store, 9 October

Every week (ish) we write this post, yet we never fail to get indescribably excited by the things we list within. This week is no exception. Hold on to your hats...

  • Beavertown heralds the return of their annual pumpkin beer, Stingy Jack. It's stingy by name but also by nature - we've got extremely limited stocks of this, so it's a one-can limit, alas. One can! We know. Sorry about that.
  • Five Points London Smoke is back on the shelf - we love this beer. It's a great food match or just enjoy its smoky goodness on its own. We've also restocked on Five Points Pale cans - get in quick.
  • Two newbies are in from Weird Beard - their Tsujigiri Yuzu IPA was such a hit on flagon-fill that we've brought it back in bottles, as well as the new India Brown Ale, No More Bright Ideas.
  • We're delighted to have two new lines from Buxton (though before you get your hopes up, sadly they're not the elusive Yellow Belly Sundae or the Rainbow collab with Arizona Wilderness...) No complaints with what we have managed to get our hands on though - the always-amazing Axe Edge English IPA and Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA. Boom!
  • Two more new Wiper & True beers extend the range on shelf to no fewer than six brews from this excellent Bristol brewery. Amber Ale: In The Pines is a richly malty red with a distinct piney finish; Family Tree is an IPA that's rating off the scale, bringing together the earthiness of Nugget hops with the pine burst that is Simcoe and Mosaic, a mix of both.
  • Two new ones from the brewery we fall more in love with every week, Arbor. Choose from the easy-drinking American amber ale Red Henry or flagon-fill favourite Beech Blonde, in addition to the other Arbors already on shelf - Oz Bomb, Why Kick A Moo Cow and Yakima Baby.
  • And we've saved the best for last - the best flagon-fill line-up we've seen in ages. Seriously, go check it out. Wylam Jakehead IPA is back. We've got a new Burning Sky - Saison Provision Reserve aged on gooseberries. Tuatara Sauvinova has been flying off the shelves in 330ml bottle - don't miss it in large-format. And we've still got two Yeastie Boys kegs in the cellar - the brewery we love so much we bought (shares in) the company. Fill yer boots!