Founders

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.

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes VI – Founders Centennial IPA

Have you ever stopped to think about how brilliant it is that we can easily pick some of the best North American craft beer in the world at our local bottle shop? Stop what you’re doing and think about it now. Yes, now. Really think about it. Think about how some of the best beer in the world is travelling 5,000 miles to sit on a shelf five minutes from your house, all because someone in America thought you might enjoy it and buy some of their beer.

It’s easy to take this for granted and it’s all too simple to say that we live in a golden age of beer consumption because to be honest, we really do. It’s not perfect, far from it and it probably never will be – but it’s only going to get better. The most important thing to do is to appreciate what’s right in front of us, right now. It’s all too easy to try something new as often as possible but sometimes it’s better to find a really tasty beer and latch on to it for a while.

American IPA is my favourite style of beer and Founders Centennial IPA is surely one of the most dependable. It’s as bright as a recently buffed copper kettle, with mellow aromas of citrus and French toast. To taste Centennial is like receiving a sliced lemon, drizzled in golden syrup and dipped in sugar-coated toasted barley, directly to the face. Unlike a lot of really modern IPA, Centennial stays true to its US roots with that big, chunky, malt flavour keeping those biting citrus notes in check. It’s great, should never be taken for granted and enjoyed as often as possible. Just stop what you’re doing for a moment and think about it.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter@totalcurtis. 

Dads = sorted

In case you missed our Fathers' Day guide a couple of newsletters' ago, here it is again in all its glory. (And feel free to buy Mum a few brews too.)

HB&B gift boxes Our popular 3- and 6-bottle gift boxes are pretty much tailor-made for dads (and anyone else). You can either choose your own selection of beers or take the easy route and opt for one we prepared earlier. Our Gipsy Hill and Brick Brewery 3-packs are always best-sellers, or keep it local with a South-East London 6-pack. Or why not give Dad the double whammy - swap out one of the beers for one of our 100+ hot sauces and turn a Hop Box into a Hot Box? 

Make Your Own Beer Cookies The ultimate DIY kit for dads who love baking - and it's even better for dads who hate it. This awesome kit comes with everything you need to make tasty biscuits that are actually MADE OF BEER. Simply pour the enclosed bottle of Five Points' glorious Railway Porter over the cookie mix and stick it in the oven. Yes, it is that simple. We're hoping these kits will arrive before this weekend, but will happily take reservations if they don't make it in time. You know you need this in your life.

I like big beers and I cannot lie That's right - big beautiful bottles of beer. Celebrate his glory with His Majesty, a Belgian-style strong golden ale from Yeastie Boys. Get fruity with Founders' Blushing Monk, packed with an insanely huge amount of raspberries. If he's on the sour side, suck up a Rueuze from The Bruery, an exquisite sour blonde ale from the US of A. Lastly, the world's greatest gift for a beer-lovin', chilli-lovin' chap - our Rogue Sriracha bundle: a 750ml bottle of Rogue's Hot Sriracha Stout and the original Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Sauce for just £16.50 (a saving of £2 on what you'd pay if you bought them separately).

Finally - don't forget about beautiful beer glassware and our own HB&B vouchers. See you down t'shop soon...

New stuff in store: 16 April

Another motherlode of the good stuff. Drums, please:

  • Brand new to our shelves is the excellent One Mile End brewery, based beneath Mile End Road at the White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel. This brewery is getting kudos from all quarters and we know you're going to love these beautifully crafted beers: Salvation Pale Ale, Snakecharmer IPA and Hospital Porter.
  • Moor, Moor, Moor! SoHop, NorHop, BritHop... all your hops are belong to us. Grab all three of these spectacular ultra pale ales and vote for your favourite.
  • Ahead of our Anspach & Hobday brewer showcase on the 29th, we've stocked up on their new Pale Ale plus got a re-up of their excellent Table Porter. Expect more special treats on the night...
  • Firm flagon-fill favourites Gipsy Hill add another string to their sessionable, full flavoured bow with the Yuzu Japanese Pale Ale, a zesty number brewed with Kent Brewery.
  • We loved Siren's quarter-IPA, Half Mast, last year - this tasty 2.9%-er packs a flavoursome punch for such a low ABV beverage. Get it while it's cold!
  • Also on the session front, Weird Beard's Little Things That Kill is your ideal summer ale. Hopped and dry-hopped with Centennial and Nelson Sauvin (from Jen's hometown), with an addition of Cascade, we predict this will fly out the door if these sultry temperatures continue.
  • If, like us, you love the refreshing cidery tartness of Wild Beer's Somerset Wild and Ninkasi beers, then you'll adore Zintuki - a skilful blend of both. We put this to a taste test on Wednesday over lunch outside the shop in the sunshine and can confirm it's perfect summer drinking. Hey, it's a hard job, but someone has to do it...
  • Wiper & True's beautiful branding is an accurate indicator of the sophisticated contents inside in the bottles, the result of which is that we can never keep this Bristol brewery's beer on the shelf for long. Two new additions this week: Blossom Amber Ale and Southern Cross Pale Ale.
  • Lastly, Founders All Day IPA. Our best-selling US beer now in cans!

There are probably some we've missed off - best to come in store and see for yourself. And don't forget to check our flagon-fill page for all the deliciousness coming up on draught too - only the best for you...