Every year the British brewing industry joins the beer drinking public at the monster booze-up that is The Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Great British Beer Festival. Besides the consumption of copious amounts of ale, there is also time for some serious business – the unveiling of Britain’s best brews, voted for by a panel of drinking experts.
Beers are divided into various categories, with the winners of each category judged alongside CAMRA’s winter beer victor (judged, naturally, earlier during winter) to find an overall Champion Beer of Britain. And it’s the winter category that provided this year’s best beer, with Elland ‘1872 porter’ being awarded the industry’s most prestigious prize.
The Great British Beer Festival 2013 beers of the year
• Gold: Great Orme ‘Welsh Black’ (Conwy)
• Silver: Cotswold Spring ‘Old Sodbury Mild’ (Gloucestershire)
• Bronze: Fernandes ‘Malt Shovel Mild’ (West Yorkshire)
Having drifted out of fashion for years there are signs that a mild revival could be underway. Great Orme’s winning beer is well worth trying – it’s a black drink brewed with seven types of grain.
• Gold: Buntingford ‘Twitchell’ (Hertfordshire)
• Silver: Moor ‘Revival’ (Somerset)
• Bronze: Surrey Hills ‘Ranmore Ale’ (Surrey) & Butcombe ‘Butcombe Bitter’ (Somerset)
Butcombe Bitter is ubiquitous in our home county of Somerset – we’ve probably drank more of this beer in the last 12 months than any other.
• Gold: Mordue ‘Workie Ticket’ (North Shields)
• Silver: Surrey Hills ‘Shere Drop’ (Surrey)
• Bronze: Purple Moose ‘Glaslyn’ (Gwynedd) & Woodfordes ‘Nelsons Revenge’ (Norfolk)
Workie Ticket won the overall award way back in 1997.
• Gold: Fyne Ales ‘Jarl’ (Argyll)
• Silver: Buntingford ‘Polar Star’ (Hertfordshire)
• Bronze: St Austell ‘Proper Job’ (Cornwall)
‘Jarl’ uses this year’s trendiest hop ‘Citra’ to get its light citrus flavours and aroma.
• Gold: Beeston ‘On the huh’ (Norfolk)
• Silver: Marble ‘Dobber’ (Greater Manchester)
• Bronze: Castle Rock ‘Screech Owl’ (Nottingham)
Marble complete a famous double this year – their pale ale ‘Squared’ made our Frocester Beer Festival 2013 top 10.
• Gold: Growler Brewery, Nethergate ‘Umbel Magna’ (Suffolk)
• Silver: Saltaire ‘Triple Chocolate’ (West Yorkshire)
• Bronze: Conwy ‘Honey Fayre’ (Conwy)
‘Umbel Magna’s winning flavours are provided by the addition of coriander.
Winter Beer of Britain (from category winners announced in January 2013)
• Elland ‘1872 Porter’ (West Yorkshire)
• Bartram’s ‘Comrade Bill Bartram’s EAIS Stout’ (Suffolk)
• Kelburn ‘Dark Moor’ (Old Ale/Strong Mild) (Glasgow)
• Hog’s Back ‘A over T’ (Barley Wine/Strong Old Ale) (Surrey)
At 6.5% ‘1872 Porter’ is a strong, dark beer that uses a recipe dating back to… you’ve guessed it… 1872.
Champion Bottled Beer of Britain winners*
• Gold: Molson Coor’s ‘Worthington White Shield’ (Burton on Trent)
• Silver: St Austell ‘Proper Job’ (Cornwall)
• Bronze: Harvey’s ‘Imperial Extra Double Stout’ (East Sussex)
One of the world’s most famous beers, ‘Worthington White Shield’ also dates from the 1870s. We could do with tracking down a beer recipe book from that period…
*For those of us unable to attend the festival there is still a chance to sample several of the winning beers under one roof. And you don’t even need to leave your own house. A case containing 15 finalists from the Bottled Beer of Britain category – including the three medal winners – is available to buy from online retailer Beer Hawk, giving us the opportunity to host our own beer festival of Britain’s most elite brews. Click here to order.
The full case list is as follows: Worthington White Shield, St Austell Proper Job, Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout, Beowulf Dragon Smoke Stout, Conwy Clogwyn Gold, Hopshackle Restoration, Marble Lagonda IPA, Marble Chocolate Marble, Neath Ales Black, O’Hanlon’s Port Stout, Old Bear Black Maria, Spire Sgt Pepper Stout, Stewart St Giles, Stewart Embra, Young’s Special London Ale.