Birraire's Golden Pints 2021

 

In spite of my pessimism about the state of the local beer blogosphere, I still firmly believe in the role that blogs can play as a fundamental piece for the dissemination and quality discussion in an environment open to all audiences.

To avoid settling into perpetual criticism and start leading by example, I hope to resume blog activity a bit this year, also as part of a return to good habits that I have definitely lost due to the pandemic and excess work, the combination of which has led me to a terribly monotonous kind-of-monastic life.

To begin with, I would like to recover a decade-long initiative that started in the international blogosphere: the Golden Pints awards, which every blogger assigns to beers, establishments or projects that they feel deserve to be praised.

2021 was a strange year, again. But despite everything it has not prevented me from enjoying beer, as shown by the review of the following categories -adapted from the original ones- and their respective winners.


Best beer

Or i Plata - La Petita Creu Alta

In the very dying moments of 2021, I went to La Microcerveseria in Sabadell: the good company and this Vienna lager created the ideal context for me to drink the best beer of the year. Light-coloured but true to style, perfectly clean, superlatively subtle and delicious from start to finish. So much so that I took two British pints, and I did not down any more because I had to drive at night.


Best bottled / canned beer

La Pirata - Viakrucis

Probably the beer that I have drunk the most times. And it does not win by repetition, nor because the brewery is close to my home, or because I bring full boxes of it to certain meetings. Or because I feel La Pirata's project as if it was my own, without being part of it. But for the absolute quality of this beer, which was their first recipe and it is still on the market a decade later,  being one of the best IPAs that one can find around here.


Best brewery

Basqueland Brewing

No surprises here. The Gipuzkoans have had an incredible year, winning the award for the best beer at the Barcelona Beer Challenge and the Campeonato Nacional de Cervezas, making thousands of fans fall in love with each of their creations. Everything I have had from them in 2021 has been exceptional.


Best bar / pub -that is not La Taverna dels Predicadors-

El Birrot

If we except my local, which would win in every editionn, this year I would like to highlight another of the big names in Catalonia. In 2021, I was finally able to make way to Jafre and see for myself what I had been told about El Birrot: the beer selection, the great atmosphere -in an apparently deserted town- and that magnificent patio, which in summer gets you close to the meaning of life. A true paradise.


Best retailer

Labirratorium

For their wide selection, always interesting and updated; for their online store that works smoothly and provides good information about the products; for the kindness and knowledge of the staff; for the good tasting selection they have on tap; and also for their neat newsletter -although it has lost its regularity, lately-, which I always read with interest.


Best mixed experience

Fàbrica CTretze Pirineus

We all have a soft spot or two. In my case, one is being able to enjoy culture with a good beer in hand. Exactly what I did in La Pobla de Segur, attending a rockabilly concert by Enma Fernández while I drank beer made in the same facilities -'River', an IPA of 5.5%, was tremendous-. At the end, I was able to dine in the same place and enjoy the delicious food on offer.


Best event

Barcelona Beer Festival 2021

I had not attended the BBF glass in hand since 2012. This past edition, beyond some specific supports, I was able to experience the Festival fully as a consumer, and contemplate the magnitude of what has been built over nine editions. Yes, I may be accused of being subjective*, but I have not attended other large-format events this year. And just as several people had already told me, I enjoyed myself as a child at Disneyland.


Best book

Modern British Beer, de Matthew Curtis

I have followed Matt's career since his first steps on his Total Ales blog, admiring the passion and determination with which he works, so I had no hesitation in acquiring Modern British Beer. The fact that CAMRA decided to publish a book on such a topic under its own label also added a lot of interest to it. And the result is a work in which the author masterfully reviews the UK beer scene, with a good deal of subjectivity and a fresh narrative style.


Best local communicator

Alberto Benavides

Once again, I can be accused of lacking objectivity** but, from my point of view, the renewed commitment to disseminate beer culture that Bar&Beer has made is an extremely important advance for our industry. As its director, Alberto has led the change that this volume 3 of the magazine represents, achieving a high standard both in format and content, that is very topical and interesting. An essential read.


Best communicator

Jessica Boak & Ray Bailey

If I keep participating in the Golden Pints, I may also have to except Boak & Bailey, one of my great references from the beginning. When I have little time to read, as it happened during most of 2021, it is one of the few places I go to for beer content. For their constancy, quality and variety of content, for their unique newsletter, and for their unwavering faith in beer blogs.


Best branding

Reptilian & Antonio Bravo

Antonio managed to awaken my appreciation of illustration about 9 years ago, when I met him after his early work with Zombier and Naparbier. Linking his creations to the branding of Reptilian was a mariage parfait that many of us were waiting for, and that it has finally been consummated in 2021.


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Salut i birra!


* Although my participation in this edition has been minimal, I am part of the Festival organisation team, and I get paid for my services.

** I am a recurring contributor to the magazine, and get paid for my articles.

Comments

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