The Best of 2013
It’s already the 5th day of 2014 so I suppose I should regale you with my favourite beer and music of 2013. There are no prizes, just the warm glow you get from the knowledge you made me happy.
BEERS OF THE YEAR
A quick note on BOTY: To qualify all beers had to be brewed, to the best of my knowledge, for the first time in 2013. And to ensure that it’s not just a time/place/moment thing each beer had to be scooped/savoured several times and during more the one session.
6. Now Beer by Art Brew
One of those beers that I would happily drink every time I see it and all night long… although at 6.5% the night might not last too long… I’d probably have to call it a day at around 2am… maybe 3.
5. Ginlemlii by Hop Kettle
Do you fancy Ginger and Lemongrass Saison that’s been dryhopped with lime leaves? Ooooh! Yes please. One of the joys of the summer was sitting in the garden of the Red Lion Cricklade knocking back a few pints of Ginlemlii.
4. In The Dark We Live by Tempest
I’m still not sure if I like BIPAs. But if I keep encountering ones as good as this offering from Tempest I’ll keep trying them.
3. Limoncello IPA by Siren
Another beer that made the summer extra sunny (and tasty).
2. Sky Mountain Sour by Buxton & To Øl
The one sour to rule them all. This needs to become a regular fixture in 2014.
1. Flapjack Black by Hop Kettle
Ah, by far my favourite beer of 2013… and very possibly any year. I had loads of it early in the year before it took an extended summer holiday but thankfully it returned for an end of year encore. Delicious! And 4 pints gives you such a happy buzz that you forget you went to MuckDonald’s.
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ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
6. Revolutionary Suicide by Julian Cope
The Cope let me down in 2012 but thanks to Revolutionary Suicide I forgave him in 2013. The whole album is great. The Armenian Genocide is truly exceptional.
5. Machineries of Joy by British Sea Power
Very probably their finest release since their debut. Each tracks sounds like it’s been written in the style of someone from the rock elite… but in the style of someone from the rock elite who is covering a BSP song. A remarkable achievement.
4. Between Dog & Wolf by New Model Army
Perhaps more closely related to Justin Sullivan’s solo album, Navigating By The Stars, than it is to any previous NMA release but that in no way detracts from its overall worth. Arguably it doesn’t have any songs that sound like they’ll enter into NMA lore in the same way as tracks such as Vagabonds and Purity but, again, that in no way detracts from its overall worth. This is an album that needs to played in one go to be fully appreciated. Stick it on repeat and listen to it several times in a row and you’ll realise that it’s the Army’s most complete album. A stunning achievement.
3. The Blueblack Hussar by Adam Ant
He’s been through a lot has Mr Goddard. A lot of it was dark. Very dark. But 34 years after his excellent debut – Dirk Wears White Socks – he’s unleashed his finest moment. That which does not kill us makes us create amazing music.
2. Re-Mitt by The Fall
I love The Fall and although I understand why some folk don’t love The Fall I don’t understand why some folk don’t love The Fall. This is everything we want and except from Mark E Smith and his cronies. And even more so than on most of their albums it sounds like the band are just getting on with doing their thing and pretty much ignoring their leader as he spouts the kind of inspired nonsense that only a select few Nobel laureates are able to fully grasp and comprehend. Sublime stuff.
1. Stick & Poke by A. Tom Collins
I doubt I would even know this album exists if it wasn’t for the involvement of Bob Ferbrache – the godfather of the Denver Sound. Everything he records and/or produces sounds stunning. This is no exception. I was gifted the album by Bob himself (after the Auto Club’s Borderline gig back in May). I fully expected that after a few courtesy plays it would slip to the bottom of the CD pile. But it hasn’t. I’ve returned to it time and time again. It was by far the album I played most often in 2013. But Bob is a legend so I shouldn’t have expected anything else. But it’s not Bob’s show. The band truly deserves their star billing. The quality of the playing is excellent and the song writing is first class. There’s no guitar but, alongside the rhythm section, we’ve got trumpet, clarinet, sax, and keys & vocals from a guy who sounds like he’s spent too many hours in seedy smoky basement dive bars singing love laments to disinterested waifs and strays and business men from out of town. It could, and perhaps should, have been a recipe for a pretentious pile of festering and pretentious crap. But it’s not. Stick & Poke is an unexpected and absolute gem of an album.
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SONG OF THE YEAR
Love is a Bourgeois Construct by Pet Shop Boys
On Sunday 6 October after disembarking the Bristol Beer Week Express I stuck this on repeat and danced the whole way home – a perfect end to 3 days of beautiful Bristol boozing.
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GIG OF THE YEAR
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club at the København Musikcaféen
The Auto Club are the best live band on the planet… actually, they are the best band on the planet. Lord Dwight Pentecost played and absolute blinder that night – the best I’ve ever heard him – and, of course, the rest of the band were as stunning and sublime as always.
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DRINKING ESTABLISHMENT OF THE YEAR
By my reckoning I visited more than 120 pubs/bars/boozers in 2013 and in 6 different countries – USA, England, Denmark, Sweden, Wales and Ireland. Some were old favourites and others became new favourites but 3 have especially stood out – 1 in Cricklade and 2 in Bristol. It’s a difficult task separating them and selecting an overall winner but Brewdog Bristol gets the nods because the staff there are quite simply the greatest I’ve encountered.
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BREWERY OF THE YEAR
For the second year running these guys get my nod: 2 beers in my Top 6 plus a whole host of other delights including the delicious Snake’s Head USA IPA. You should make visiting Hop Kettle and the Red Lion Cricklade one of your beer missions of 2014.
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Beer Event of the Year
Bristol Beer Week
No contest. I went to the GBBF. I went to the CBC. No contest.
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Blogger of the Year
Boak & Bailey
It really couldn’t be anybody else. The best in the murky (or should that be unfined?) business.
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This blog is dead.