Beer52 Awards 2020

Join us, as we celebrate our favourite beers and breweries from the past 12 months

article-banner

Through the lens of today’s beer world, last year’s Beer52 Awards ceremony in London looks like a Roman orgy. A crowded bar, congratulatory hugs, sharing pints and scandalously naked faces everywhere. Indeed, the very idea of an awards ceremony in 2020 seems a little inappropriate – surely every brewery that’s managed to keep brewing should be getting some sort of gong? Nonetheless, things have moved on over the past 12 months, and we’ve seen many beers and breweries stand out from the pack in a way that demands to be celebrated.

Collectively and individually, our relationship with alcohol has been forced to change. Beer is no longer about popping to the pub and having a pint or three with friends, and the hospitality industry – along with breweries relying on on-trade sales – have been hammered as a result. Instead, we’ve been drinking at home, with our families, or with friends over Zoom. Beer52 and other online craft shops have seen volumes soar, and anecdotal evidence suggests more drinkers have made the leap from macro binge-juice to beer with character.

There has been a darker side to this change though. As the lines blur between our work, family and social lives, many of us have found we’re drinking more over the course of a week than we would have before lockdown. Growing awareness of this has accelerated the trend towards session-strength and low/no alcohol beer, and has also arguably contributed to the swing back to drinkability and familiar, comforting styles.

On the question of style, our big takeaway from this year’s judging process has been the rise of session-strength hazy IPAs (and the continuing spread of haze across the broader IPA category). Even 12 months ago, UK breweries’ relative inexperience with NEIPA-style beers meant most were brewing to 6-7%ABV in order to achieve balance, with a few notable exceptions such as Lost + Found and Gispy Hill. Today, thankfully, session NEIPAs are everywhere, and often brewed to a standard the Americans have enjoyed for years.

The other big trend has been the long-predicted return of lager. This is a drum we and others have been beating for years, and it’s by no means a new phenomenon, but 2020 has been the year lager finally became a sought-after style among casual craft beer drinkers. You can sense this has unleashed a lot of head brewers, who are now unapologetically embracing lager heritage, showcasing the noble hop varieties and moving beyond pilsner to explore the forgotten corners of the lager style world.

It’s been genuinely heartening to see how the UK craft scene has continued to evolve under lockdown, and even more encouraging to see our sense of community solidify around this year’s many knock-backs. We’d love to send an award out to every single brewery we’ve worked with over the past 12 months, but those little wooden guys are surprisingly pricey, so here are the very best of the very best.


Share this article