It’s been a big year of beers, beer events, and beer news. We’re all looking back at the year that was and making plans for the year that will be. For us beer writers, it’s time for the Golden Pints, an entirely unscientific process that involves reaching back into so fairly foggy memories and trying to decide what our favourites of the year were. It’s bound to put more emphasis on more recent beers and inevitably some great beers will be forgotten.

Here are my Golden Pints for 2012. I didn’t include some of the categories because they didn’t apply to me – I haven’t bought beer online this year – or because I thought they were stupid (aren’t all new beers experimental? How new is a new brewery?) and added in a category – Best Homebrew. On reflection, I’m a little worried about how high alcohol my favourites were – does that reflect on me or the New Zealand beer scene?

Best NZ Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer: Yeastie Boys PKB
This was the hardest category to choose. In the end I went with what I would order on tap given the choice of any New Zealand beer.

Best NZ Bottled or Canned Beer: Yeastie Boys / Liberty Brewing nevaRaven
Again, I had to go with, if I could have a bottle of anything right now, what would it be and I’d love to have a glass of this in my hand. So complex, yet so drinkable. It’s a beer you can sit down with and almost converse with. A close second would be West Coast Brewing Barleywine – although I’d like one of those in my hand and another dozen stashed away for ageing.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Coronado Stoopid Stout
This beer may have been responsible for me missing my bus, getting lost on the way home, and various other stoopid activities, but I love it nonetheless. It is everything an Imperial Stout should be – big, gloopy, and delicious.

Best Overseas Bottled/Canned Beer: Nøgne Ø #100
Looks beautiful, tastes beautiful. Marvellous malt.

Best Homebrew: Kelly Milligan’s ‘Junior’ 
It’s very rare I’ll have the same beer three times in a row, but I did with Kelly’s ‘Junior’ and American Amber Ale hopped with Cascade, Willamette, and Columbus (3:2:1).

Best Overall Beer: Garage Project Double Day of the Dead
I’ve chosen to go with Kieran Haslett-Moore’s definition and use this catergory as ‘best beer drinking experience’. I arrived at Galbraith’s soaked to the skin and freezing. The fire was going, it was toasty inside and then I got my hands on a Double Day of the Dead. It was the perfect beer for a not-so-perfect moment. The chilli and alcohol were warming, the chocolate was sweet and oddly reassuring, and overall it was just nicely put together.

Best Pumpclip or Label: Grumpy Boys Porter and Yakima Monster
The Grumpy Boys Pumpclip (below left) was the antithesis of design. Brewer Sam drew it on his iPhone and sent it off to the Malthouse who printed it off, laminated it and stuck it on during Beervana. To make it even more comical, it was twice the size of the other more thoughtful labels. (And it’s so true – they really are grumpy boys). My other favourite is the exact opposite – carefully designed by Barry Hannah, the Yakima Monster badge (below right) is detailed and draws you in to the crazy world of hoppy monsters.

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Best NZ Brewery: Liberty
I hate to give Joe any praise, ’cause it’ll go straight to his head, but have you tasted the stuff that’s come out of his shed this year? Yakima Scarlet, Burning Evil, XPA, Renalls Toward Muriwai, Never Go Back, High Carb Ale….just so damn tasty. He’s good with the hops, but also seriously amazing with malt.

Best Overseas Brewery: Mountain Goat
Admittedly, I haven’t drank a lot of beer since arriving in Australia, but when I have had the opportunity, I’ve headed down to the Mountain Goat brewery. In addition to being a great venue, their beers are consistently good and their Goldilocks is one of the few golden/summer ales I will happily drink all day long for it’s hoppy goodness.

Pub/Bar of the Year: Galbraith’s Ale House, Auckland
Galbraith’s is a great pub and this year it was excellent. Wonderful selection of beers on the guest taps, the Cask Ale Series and some seriously delicious food – especially the soup and the Scotch eggs!

Bottlestore of the Year: Newmarket Liquorland
The best place to get beer in Auckland if you’re not in the CBD. The selection is amazing and there’s a car park right next to an on-ramp. All you need in an Auckland bottlestore.

Supermarket of the Year: New Plymouth New World (honourable mention)
I spent most of the year living in Otahuhu and the supermarkets there don’t stock a lot of good beer. I would like to give New Plymouth New World an honourable mention – their range isn’t huge, but they stock Epic, Tuatara, 8wired, Invercargill, and many more. And remember people, this is a supermarket that calls bok choi  ‘Chinese cabbage’.

Best Restaurant Beer List: Hop Garden
Hop Garden counts right? Sure it does.

Best Beer Blog or Website:  Crafty Pint
I was a bit nervous about moving to a new country where I knew next to nothing about the beer scene, but the Crafty Pint is an invaluable resource. In addition, the articles are really well written, and the newsletters come regularly, but not too often.

Best Beer Twitterer: Dave Kurth @westcoastbrews
Dave’s a man of few words, but when he does speak/tweet, it’s often hilarious, insightful, offensive, or a mixture of all three.

Best Online Brewery Presence: Hallertau
Hallertau has a gorgeous and informative website, and they post regularly, but not too often on Twitter and Facebook with a nice mix of promotion and just ‘hey, this is cool.’ Also, they destroyed one of the Breakfast presenters with chilli. Awesome.

Best Event of the Year: Auckland Bar Hop
Yes, it’s my own event and yes, I didn’t really get to drink anything, but I am so ridiculously proud of this event, I’m going to put it out there anyway. Also I’d like to thank (again) everyone who came along and had a good time.

In 2013 I’d most like to… get in more practice at tasting and judging. Over the last year Greig McGill has nagged encouraged me to get involved with judging and (to my surprise) I really enjoyed it. And, it’s an excellent excuse to try more beers!

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