Golden Pints 2022 - slowly getting back to normal

I never really ran with the “Golden Pints” idea, in fact you could say that I hardly walked with it either, and looking back through the archives, my last post that followed the Golden 20 floz  format, was this one from December 2013. What I’ve tended to do instead, was to take a look back over each previous year, and write a review, under the banner of “The Year in Beer.”

I did the same this time around, reviewing the places I’d been to, the pubs and bars I’d visited, plus a quick mention of some of the best beers that I’d drank during the course of 2022. It reached a state where the article was beginning to become too long, although not long enough to divide it into two. I have done that previously, but that was when a lot more was happening in my life, particularly with regard to foreign travel, brewery visits, beer festivals etc.

2022, was an obvious improvement on the previous two years, although definitely not matching the high standards of say 2015 – 2019. So, with a fairly lengthy review done and dusted, there was still the small matter of best beers, best pubs, best places to enjoy a beer etc, and this was where the idea of resurrecting the “Golden Pints” idea came from. Veteran bloggers, Boak & Bailey, have kindly volunteered to collate this years’ GP posts, so take a look at what other bloggers and writers have put forward for 2022.

So, in no particular order, we have:

Best beer on home turf

As in previous years, this is a difficult one, as no single, individual beer stands out. My answer in previous years, was often Harvey’s Sussex Best, but for some strange reason I haven’t come across this old favourite very often during 2022. This means I am going to give the award to:

Larkin’s Porter This winter seasonal, classic, is brewed to a respectable strength of 5.2%, and packed is full of roasted coffee and chocolate flavours. It is a beer that is eagerly sought out by its many devotees, of which I am one. Described by me on Untappd, as “Pure silk in a glass.”


Best beer abroad

The two cruises we enjoyed during 2022, provided the only opportunities to sample beer in an overseas’ location.  The beer might not have been the most exciting, or innovative in the world, but being able to enjoy it in a foreign setting, certainly added to the appeal.

Ratsherrn Brauerei Hamburg Hell. Described as "Hamburg's answer to Bavarian beer," this unfiltered, and well-balanced, had a distinct hop aroma and bitterness. Enjoyed in a pavement café setting at Cotidiano, an Italian-themed restaurant, tucked away at the side of Hamburg’s imposing town hall, or Rathaus.



Best Locations to Enjoy a Beer

On home turf. The Rock at Chiddingstone Hoath, wins hands down. This lovely old, traditional, country inn has a timeless feel to it, and a visit
there really is like stepping back in time. In addition, the Rock’s future now seems much more assured, following a change of ownership, and the return to more regular opening hours.

Abroad. The Molla Guesthouse,located in a former mill at Olden Cruise Port, Norway, overlooking the deep, calm icy waters of the Nordfjorden, proved the perfect setting to enjoy a glass of local beer. Sitting there with that glass of beer, under a cloudless sky, in the shadow of the mountains and our cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2, was one of those perfect, or should I say, magic moments.

Best new pub finds

Stanhope Arms, Brasted. The Stanhope might be modernized, but for me it’s a real find, especially as I never knew it existed until the beginning of last month. Tucked away, along a lane, away from the main part of Brasted village, the Stanhope is a prime example of how a pub’s fortunes can be turns around by hard work, dedication and, it must be said, a fair bit of cash.

Star Inn, Bath. Obviously not a new pub, but a new one for me, and also a pub that I’ve read about, and wanted to visit for a long time. Definitely a classic, and on a wet and windy March day, the perfect shelter for the outside elements.


 Best Brewery

 Thornbridge. Rather a tricky one, as I was going to nominate Harvey’s (again), but we can’t keep on having the same brewery scooping this award, every time. Instead, a quick scan through my stats for last year, on Untappd, revealed that whilst Harvey’s did indeed come up tops for the brewery with the most “check-ins”, Thornbridge came second.

Describing themselves as the “Original Craft Brewery,” Thornbridge brew an impressive selection of different beers, across a wide range of styles. Apart from their flagship beer – Jaipur, most of the other Thornbridge beers I have enjoyed over the past year have been mainly in canned form. Stand-out examples include, Halcyon, Shelby IPA, Lukas and of course, the irresistible Cocoa Wonderland Porter. The other good thing about Thornbridge, is they are bringing back 500ml bottles, for the most popular beers, to begin with.

Brewery visits at home and abroad

I have not visited any breweries, either at home or overseas, since before the pandemic. I only managed two during 2019, when Harvey’s and Cellar Head were visited on the same day, as part of a local CAMRA branch outing. My score remains at 35 breweries in the UK and 19 overseas.

Beer festivals

Chequers, Laddingford. A pub beer festival, and a very good one at that. This annual event is held to commemorate St George’s Day, and takes place in the pub itself, and also in the extensive garden behind. The gravity served beers are stored and dispensed from an outbuilding at the side of the pub.

I walked to Laddingford from Beltring station, partially along a country road, and then across country. I stayed for around an hour and a half, chilling out whilst soaking up the atmosphere of this family-friendly, community-oriented beer festival.

Tonbridge Juddians Rugby Club. I’ve a feeling I attended, possibly with son Matthew, but apart from some beer tasting notes, picked up at the event, there are no photos, and I can’t even recall the date. Conclusion, it can’t have been that memorable!

Best beer city

Sheffield. Back in May, I enjoyed a fantastic day in "steel city," Sheffield, in the company of local legends, Retired Martin and Sheffield Hatter. The trains ran to time, the weather was perfect, the pubs were brilliant, the beer was mainly good and the company exceptional.

It was the perfect day out, and we managed to visit several of Sheffield’s finest pubs, including the Fat Cat, Kelham Island Tavern, and the Bath Hotel.

Best days out

I enjoyed three excellent days out, to Bath, Cambridge, and Sheffield. Whilst I am familiar with several pubs in Bath, the other two cities were new destinations, as far a beer was concerned. If I had to pick one, it would be the trip I took to Cambridge, with Matthew.

The journey, by train, was easy, with a seamless connection at London Bridge. . This was our first time in the city centre, and we liked what we saw, the sun shone, the architecture was stunning, and the pubs we visited memorable - for all the right reasons. The ones that stood out were the Free Press, and to a lesser extent, the Eagle. Definitely a destination worthy of several return visits.

Best beer book 

“A Year in Beer - The Beer Lover's Guide to the Seasons." One of the best books on beer, that I’ve read for a long time. Written by London-based, and award-winning beer writer, Jonny Garrett, the book follows the changing seasons, and the influence they have on the beers that are brewed and those that are drunk. It starts with is winter, as this coincides with the start of the year, and is packed full of suggestions of the types of beer to be enjoyed, as the year progresses, along with an abundance of personal recommendations from Jonny.


Best beer writer

Franz D. Hofer, a well-travelled North American writer, is the man behind A Tempest in a Tankard. This is one of the finest and most informative beer and travel websites, out there, at the moment, and is a real labour of love, on behalf of the author. The site, which has a well-polished look and professional feel to it, mainly covers Germany, but also includes Austria, Belgium, and Scotland (Edinburgh). Franz is obviously an outdoors person, so he includes articles about hiking and cycling on the site, especially when they relate to seeking out good beer.

Bucket list.

North Downs Way. At the beginning of October, I finally completed this 153-mile, long-distance pathway, by walking the final 12-mile stretch between Guildford and Farnham. Completion of the walk had been a long time coming from half-heartedly starting the trail, during the summer of 2017,to finishing it last autumn, and whilst I won’t pretend it was all plain sailing, reaching that final way point, on the edge of Farnham, was satisfying in the extreme.

I celebrated with a pint of Hog’s Back Surrey Nirvana, at the Mulberry pub, close to the station, plus a pint of Wadworth 6X, at the Nelson, a solid and more traditional looking pub in  the centre of Farnham. They both tasted rally good, and that first one hardly touched the sides!



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