2016 has been filled with incredible independent beer! We decided to celebrate the breweries out there crafting truly brilliant brews for beer lovers’ drinking pleasure with our very own HonestBrew Independent Beer Awards.
People’s Choice Award: Wylam
We asked beer lovers to decide upon their brewery of 2016 and vote via Twitter. Over two rounds of polling, Wylam Brewery emerged victorious with a dominant display that provoked an outpouring of impassioned support from those who have crossed paths with the brewery. Every brewery nominated for this award (Cloudwater, Beavertown, Buxton, Magic Rock, Northern Monk, Siren, Wild Beer Co) are beloved and highly-respected within the world of modern craft brewing. Nobody truly lost. In reality, the vote highlighted just how good independent brewing in the UK is right now. Congratulations Wylam, thanks for making us all winners every time we enjoy one of your excellent brews.
Top British Brewery Award: Siren
From facilitating this year’s massively anticipated Rainbow Project, to consistently producing incredible and diverse beers, to acting as consummate ambassadors of British brewing, Berkshire’s Siren Brewing have offered countless reasons for us to select them as our Top British Brewery of 2016. An array of core, collaboration and one-off beers have enchanted our taste buds. Their skill and passion for beer is exhibited in each and every release, and their consistency for achieving greatness has repeatedly left us wowed. If you haven’t already been seduced by Siren’s call this year, search out their beer and drink it down with glee – the final drop will surely not be your last.
Best New Brewery Award: Verdant
Ever since a trip to the untamed wilds of Cornwall led us to the door of Verdant brewery, we knew that it wouldn’t take long for Adam, James and Rich’s brew to grab the attention of beer lovers around the UK. Based in the historic and vibrant seaside town of Falmouth, Verdant brewery are producing juicy, hop-forward and unfiltered hazy brews that need little introduction but are definitely deserving of one. Independent and unique in terms beer, packaging and background, Verdant are our best new brewery of 2016, and with their diverse lineup of canned brews, they’ll likely become your go-to producer of 2017.
Best Artwork Award: Partizan – Alec Doherty
Partizan have repeatedly wowed us when it comes to beer this year. From the most delicate and aromatic of saisons, to deep, dark and delicious imperial stouts, the Bermondsey-based brewery aren’t afraid to craft bold beers. The flavourful flourishes inside the bottle are mirrored by the beautiful, evocative and colourful pieces of artwork that sit upon the surface. Alongside artist Alec Doherty, the brewery have created a drinking experience that always feels celebratory, and consistently rouses the senses. Beautiful independent beer that is built upon a foundation of both style and substance.
Best Collaboration Award: Buxton x Omnipollo
Few beers have possessed same level of anticipation as Buxton Brewery and Omnipollo’s beguiling series of 2016 collaborations. The quintessence of cool has radiated from each and every bottle of their “Ice Cream” series. Bearing characteristically understated and playful Omnipollo artwork, and a rich heritage of highly acclaimed brewing – especially when it comes to imperial stouts – the brews will top the “best of” lists of many beer lovers. Sometimes collaborations can feel forced, unnecessary and ultimately disappointing. Buxton and Omnipollo have highlighted just how exceptional they can be. They’ve done it before, they did it this year and we’re sure they’ll do it again. A true dream team of contemporary brewing, we salute your spirit of collaboration Buxton and Omnipollo, long may it thrive.
Best Murk Monster Award: BBNo 21|03
Hype, trends and beer lovers’ fear of missing out have repeatedly gripped UK brewing throughout 2016. As queues form and our tastes grow more elaborate, many have looked to capitalise upon the flavour of the month, producing their own take on specific style. However, certain breweries have highlighted that some things deserve to be forever. Haze or “murk” have repeatedly proved controversial attributes throughout 2016. As opaque brews have filled instagram feeds, raised eyebrows, and sparked debate, Brew By Numbers proved that it’s not just the Americans who are capable of brewing super juicy and delicious beers. Their 21|03 Pale Ale bears the distinct appearance of hop and protein haze, the addition of oats produce a luxurious mouthfeel, and while the cloudiness may be a byproduct of creating a flavour-packed beer, in this case, it’s also a mark of greatness.
The Rockstar Brewery Award: Wylam
Our year has been filled with outstanding brews, yet very few producers have been as consistently great as Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery. Bolstered by macabre storytelling, mind-boggling tasting notes, and perhaps the UK’s most stunning brewery, the guys and gals from the North East have served up a diverse and eclectic array of styles. From a Black Wit Beer forged with witchcraft, to a Pilsner sent back from the future to terminate, Wylam have excited and delighted in equal measure. Their social media profiles have conjured images including a bourbon swilling Santa Claus, freestyle BMX and Donkey Kong-esque barrel running. If Ric Flair brewed beer, he’d call Wylam home. They style, they profile, and their beer’s are pretty fucking awesome too. All hail the true RocknRollas of British brewing. Wooo!
Innovation Award: Cloudwater
Cloudwater have repeatedly steered the direction of British brewing throughout 2016. The Manchester-based brewery has striven for a more conscientious attitude when it comes to the way in which we store, consume and consider great modern beer. The words “Drink Fresh” have become a mantra for beer lovers up and down the country, and a seasonal approach to brewing has resulted in a series of once-in-a-lifetime beers that won’t soon be forgotten. Though Cloudwater refrain from encouraging the more tribal aspects of the UK craft beer scene, their presence has undoubtedly gifted Northern beer lovers with a sense of pride and a thirst for good beer. Manchester has once again joined the ranks of the world’s best beer cities, thanks to the spotlight Cloudwater have helped shine upon its historic and newly-founded breweries. Their DIPAs have joined the ranks of some of the world’s most respected beers. While their ever-changing aesthetic has highlighted the work of countless talented and emerging artists. Their innovation has helped populate the landscape of British beer with countless landmarks this year, make room for many more in the future.
The HonestBrew Awesomeness Award: Wiper and True
Beautifully refined in terms of both their beer and labelling, it’s hard not to fall in love with Wiper & True. This year the Bristol-based brewery have repeatedly stolen our hearts. A passionate collective of beers lovers that are consistently a joy to be around, we’ve collaborated with the brewery throughout 2016 and can’t wait to see what they are up to in the new year.