Apparently I am not experiencing enough contests in my life as Mark Dredge and Andy Moog's Gold Pints Awards for 2012 has caught my eye. Not because I can actually claim to answer all the questions posed by them so much as to see the degree to which I could even participate. I remember when my brother came back from a family visit to the UK in the early 80s and complained how he heard Born in the USA in every pub. Even with decades of such cultural globalization, however, I think that the divisions in the English speaking world's appreciation of beer have always struck me as fundamental. Let's see if this pop quiz proves my theory:
1. Best UK Draught Beer: Have I had one in 2012? I probably had a keg London Pride at some point. But if I am going to have beer on tap, it'd be local. Locally, I really loved Muskoka Spring Oddity. As of August, it was my beer of the year to date.
2. Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: no question on this one. Past Masters XX Strong Ale by Fullers.
3. Best Overseas Draught Beer: Seeing as my local beer is their overseas, I am going to say Beau's Vassar with its thick texture and mango cream mouthful. A treat I got to help create.
4. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: This is a wide open category as it really means everything. If I am thinking about what I buy, it is either Righteous Ale by Sixpoint or Saison Dupont... as it always is.
5. Best Overall Beer: What is "best"? If I think in terms of what I buy most often, it would clearly be Nickel Brook's Headstock from here in Ontario, for it's great combination of availability, price point, strength and (D)IPA intensity. But it's not like I am not going to drink the Saison Dupont first.
6. Best Pumpclip or Label: Pumpclips? This is a really weird category as I think it could only relate to sitting in a bar after having a few daydreaming at the space around you. When one is too polite to stare at the bartender(ess). So maybe it's a good thing. Maybe an intentional distraction. Stare at that. Leave me alone.
7. Best UK Brewery: None have extended their presence to me in here in the colonies in such a manner as to give me pause. The off planet lifestyle in the colonies is not all it was promised.
8. Best Overseas Brewery: I am too sick to think of everything all at once. Most interesting? I might be able to handle that. But best maker of beer every where but the UK? I am in a ball on the floor. Leave me alone. Leave me alone.
9. Pub/Bar of the Year: What's my best bar experience? I go so seldom. I've been at the Blue Tusk in Syracuse, NY as well as Toronto's Beer Bistro. But for mind blowing selection as well as location as well as pure envy for those who get to be regulars, it has to be Max's Taphouse in, Fells Point, Baltimore.
10. Beer Festival of the Year: Went to only two beer "events" this year. Drank with off duty cops at one. That was the best one. I love drinking with cops. [Ed.: you forgot to mention Craig was there, too.] Oh yeah, you're right.
11. Supermarket of the Year: Wegmans. As it is every year.
12. Independent Retailer of the Year: Bought a lot at Bear World this year. A lot. Their aggressive stock selection expansion impresses me more and more.
13. Online Retailer of the Year: I am forbidden this pleasure. Bastards.
14. Best Beer Book or Magazine: Tie. Shakespeare's Local by Pete Brown as well as The World Atlas Of Beer by Tim 'n' Steve as each is starting to display an unshackling from the burdens of the past.
15. Best Beer Blog or Website: Who could it be other than Boak and Bailey? Their studies of post-WWI to 1980s trends in beer is another sign we are leaving accepted assumptions and authorities behind.
16. Best Beer Twitterer: @NateDawg27. Why? Because he is not like me in many ways but is like me in many others.
17. Best Online Brewery Presence: Who cares? Really. Aren't brewery websites a lot like pumpclips for people who drink alone?
18. Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Huh? Food and beer. Or food. Or beer. Same as it ever was.
19. In 2013 I’d most like to... open category – you decide the topic: Live without the burden of predictions. I would like a bit less of a few things. Lay off the five dollar words. "Curate"? Really? Almost as bad as "passion". And, given there are now thousands of craft breweries worldwide with many more brewers, let's all just admit that few are special, most are solid work-a-day folk and some suck. None are rock stars. Let's all agree that it is a business and one that is laced with the desire to earn your money... not to mention laced with a mild intoxicant and that it plays a role in the earning of money. Packing in all the vacuous defending of blatant overpricing would be a nice touch, too.
There you go. A worthy exercise... for a guy in another country... home sick from work. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Did my cold meds kick in at the wrong time?