It’s that time of the bastardin’ year again when after many IPA’s, stouts, Imperial beers, sours & every special-batch-infused-with-something comes about & beer writers/bloggers/podcasters/video makers hand out their favorite imaginary award for ‘Best of the year‘ in a flurry of aplomb, praise & thankfulness. And, HopAddiktion.com will be no different; hop torpedo’d on top of that bandwagon, riding it til the wheels fall off.
Best Irish Draught Beer: ‘Croozer’ by Galway Bay
I’ve had very few draught beers this year (my consumption of draught beer is now at its lowest point ever in my life). This was a beer I had in a bottle first, then I had it on draught a week later as a sneaky pint while up in Dublin on business. And it still mesmerised the hell out of me that for its price, & its ABV it packs such a wallop in a style I should absolutely detest, but I love this beer.
Best Irish Bottled Beer: ‘Kings Bay Coffee IPA’ by Arthurstown Brewing
This will be a shock to many who follow my blog. I couldn’t not choose this beer when I sat there & thought about it long & hard. I’ve had a few coffee IPA’s from the likes of Mikeller, Stone & others. Stone’s Mocha IPA stands head & shoulders as THE coffee IPA in my books, which gives any brewery a mountain to scale. And from moment one of cracking the bottle of Coffee IPA by Arthurstown, this was an absolute coffee-laced badass of a beer. I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised by an Irish brewery that most wouldn’t even list in the ‘top ten’ in the country by innovation. And yet, Arthurstown from Wexford fucking nailed it with this one. This for me is a ‘must-try-must-buy’ beer.
Best Irish Canned Beer: Boyne Brewhouse Vienna Lager
It would be so easy for this category for me to pick one of the countless beers from say Whiplash or Yellowbelly or Rascals for this. But, one stood out more than them. Not on innovation. Not on batshit insanity (which has always been a tennet of mine), but on the sheer fact I did not expect to be as surprised & happy as hell tasting this Vienna Lager from Boyne Brewhouse. 2017 has been the year of the lagers for me (I blame Yellowbelly for starting me on this path with their excellent Lager which lives in my friedge). Ihave never before found any Vienna Lager enjoyable, but this was insanely enjoyable. And for me, the most memorable of 2017 in a can from an Irish brewery.
Best Overseas Draught Beer: Tangerine Express IPA by Stone
There was never going to be another winner on this for me but this utter fucking GEM from Stone Brewing. I have a massive affection for orange flavours in beers, & this was everything I could ask for & more in a glass. Sampled in BrewDock on a post-work half-day fly-by in the BrewDock, I could easily have asked to be IV-drip connected to this beer.
Best International Bottled Beer: Omnipollo NOA Pecan Pie Imperial Stout
I’ve been quite horrific in my words about Omnipollo Beers. Most I’ve had were style-over-substance in my opinion, & others from them which were more straight forward were just ‘meh’, which really didn’t justify their price. Then, NOA appeared. And fuck me – it didn’t just blow the doors off, it left a giant 60foot deep crater. Everything about this 11% monster was perfection. It hid its booziness in a way that saw me sink a bottle of it pretty quickly, & then cracking open the second one I chanced my arm on trying. Another absolute ‘must-try’ beer.
Best International Canned Beer: Wussie by Stone/Arrogant Brewing Company
Again, the Year of the Lager came to pass on HopAddiktion.com. And with that, there was only going to be one winner here; Wussie. I sought out as many cans of this as I could get my mits on across Dublin. And I enjoyed every single one of them with a cheeky Cheshire cat grin on my stupid face.
Best Collaboration Brew: ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Whiplash/Galway Bay
While I’ve been getting my jollies this year to lagers & some heavy-handed hopped up IPA’s & DIPA’s, this number from Whiplash & Galway Bay hit the mark hard. And I mean, HARD. Everything about this beer was enjoyable.
Best Overall Beer 2017: ‘Ambush’ by Trouble Brewing
It is almost impossible to not list this beer as my overall Beer of the Year. It is EVERYTHING that meets the needs of a session drinker or a hardcore hoprocker. I would dare even suggest this is the juicyfruits of craft beer (except juicyfruit gum to me is horrendous). Its a wonderfully hard act to follow beer, & given the super stiff competition this year, well deserved.
Best Irish Craft Cider: Lidl’s Crafty Brewing Co Medium Cider
This year, I have had a few bottles of this. And each time, it’s been bloody consistent & bloody good. It’s also an absolute bargain at €2.30 a bottle.
Best Overseas Craft Cider: Lefevre
This is what cider would taste like if I was any good at making it. And yet gain in 2017, I enjoyed the fuck out of this fancy, frilly french number this year.
Best Irish Beer Branding: Whiplash Brewing
This was a fucking tough choice this year. I LOVE what Yellowbelly have been doing with their branding & their ‘Yellowbelly’ character. But, Whiplash have put out some incredible artwork for their beers courtesy of head-brewer Alex’s S.O., one Sophie DeVere. I found the artwork incredibly inspiring during this year, & it just resonated with me more this year that YB’s. Between the beer names (often musically inspired – and as long term followers of mine know, I love the idea of music/beer coming together), combined with artwork that each time reminds me of the vividness of David Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane‘ cover art (one of my all time favorites), I have enjoyed collecting the artwork into a scrapbook this year.
Best Overseas Beer Branding: Northern Monk Patron’s Project
The inlay wraps on the cans this year in conjunction with artists has been nothing short of fascinating & had me collecting them to keep & reference in a scrapbook for some of my own non-beery ideas. It also helped the beer in the cans was every bit as bloody awesome as the branding.
Best Irish Brewery: Yellowbelly Brewing
I’ve had alot of Irish beers this year. This has probably been the first year where I can say that over 90% of the beers I’ve bought regularily have been Irish. And one brand has dominated my ‘must-haves’ over what’s been a difficult year for me personally; Yellowbelly. Their Citra Pale Ale, Lager, Good for the Town Sour & Castaway Sour collab with Howth’s Hope Beer have all been just a perfect digestible soundtrack for 2017 for me. From hop-burning asskickers such as ‘G’Way’ to the wonderfully fuck-you-esque ‘Commotion Lotion’, they’ve put a consistent smile on my face month on month. Not to mention the not-so-dunkel ‘Slam Dunkel’, which I enjoyed the freaking hell out of. A worthy winner for 2017 Best Irish Brewery from HopAddiktion.
Bar/Pub of the year: BrewDock
I’ve only had the chance to hit a small handful of pubs this year, as 2017 saw me make the fewest visits to a pub I’ve ever made. But, when I’ve hit Dublin, I’ve hit the BrewDock (convenience reasons mainly). Food,as ever is ridiculously enjoyable, & I’ve been able to enjoy the few beers I wanted to try on draught. What more can I say really?
Off-license/Beershop of the year: Blackrock Cellar
Blackrock Cellar this year has been a god-send in helping me put hands to beers when I’ve been searching them out. From helping keep me topped up with Wussie by Stone, & putting hands to some others I was looking for, their team have been amazing & every in-store experience has been consistently good.
Supermarket of the Year: Tesco
I am utterly shocked I’m awarding this to Tesco. But, this year out of all the Supermarkets, they have embraced the hell out of the craft beer movement & run screaming with the ball on it. The amount of choice in Tesco now for craft beer is almost eye-watering. Is it ‘specialist level’ yet? No. But, the fact so many Irish craft beer brands are at the table in Tesco now, alongside the likes of Magic Rock, BrewDog, & others is scary & very cool indeed.
Best Beer Blog/Vlog/Podcast: The Beer Nut
Over the last year, I have found myself enjoying John’s work more & more as I’ve dived into Lagers. Seeking out his thoughts on various lagers has actually been massively helpful to me in 2017. Yes, John enjoys beers whether they’re micro or macro. That’s his schtick. As I’ve been on an odd beery journey in 2017, his musings, reviews & thoughts have proven invaluable.
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: @IrishFinney
As someone who has just departed our beer scene, Sarah Finney to most beer writers/bloggers/Instagrammers/vloggers is well known. Her unique sense of humour, ball-busting honesty & candidness made her incredibly popular & compelling to follow, engage with & enjoy (even if for laugh out loud goodness).