I'd intended the round-up of books I've read in the last twelve months to be my final post for 2017, but reviews of the year in beer by fellow bloggers at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, Pub Curmudgeon, and even my local CAMRA chairman JC, firing up his blog again for a welcome return after a long absence, have tempted me to come up with my own personal top ten.
Best Cask Beer
I was quite surprised looking at my scores on Beerscoring to see that of the four beers I've awarded a 4 to this year (I don't think I've ever awarded the top mark of 5, no doubt reserving it for a future perfect pint) three were golden ales, two were brewed in Yorkshire and the same number were drunk in a Wetherspoons pub (Leeds Yorkshire Gold in their branch at that city's railway station after watching Salford rugby league club get thrashed by the hometown 13 at Headingley, Roosters Highway Fifty-One at the Gateway, East Didsbury, and Salopian Oracle at the Salopian Bar in Shrewsbury), the only traditional, copper-coloured bitter being Fool Hardy's Rash Dash at the Hope Inn, Stockport.
Best Keg Beer
Sam Smith's Extra Stout at the Boars Head, Stockport, is the only keg beer I've drunk in a pub which also serves cask, apart from a Guinness in the chain dining pub where I watched the Manchester derby in April, and where the handpump for Sharp's Doom Bar at the end of the bar looked a bit lonely and forgotten.
Best Bottled/Canned Beer
Fuller's 1845 is still my go-to bottled beer for home drinking and I've got a few conditioning for Christmas now. I also tried, and enjoyed, the canned range from Macclesfield's RedWillow brewery, especially Smokeless, which I blogged about here.
Overall Best Beer
The Magnet, Stockport, for beer range and quality, closely followed (as in my case it often is, being just up Wellington Road North) by the Hope Inn, Stockport's premier brewpub. For their pub atmosphere and character(s), the Boars Head in Stockport and the Unicorn in Manchester city centre also deserve a mention (the latter being a rare outpost hereabouts for Draught Bass).
Best Beer Festival
CAMRA's January festival at the former Manchester Central Station stands out for beer range and quality. I also enjoyed my trip to the SPBW's Woodfest at the Junction Inn, Castleford, in July.
Best Beer Book
Has to be Boak and Bailey's 20th Century Pub, as comprehensive an account of the institution's history in the last hundred years as anyone could ask for, and one that will surely become a standard reference work of the future, much like the early 70's writings of Christopher Hutt, Richard Boston and Frank Baillie on the subject are now.
Best Beer Blog
I still check out Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, Paul Bailey, Red Nev and Pub Curmudgeon most days, but the blog I've started following and occasionally commenting on in 2017 is Retired Martin, in which the blogger of that name details his GBG-ticking odyssey around the country.
Best Beer Twitter
Cooking Lager for his tongue in cheek(?) quips and irreverent bursting of the "craft beer" bubble.
Best Beer Trip
Stockport and South Manchester CAMRA's day out in Ludlow. Some of the party even saw Nigella filming in a butcher's shop there!