Judging at the Great British Beer Festival 2016

Tuesday 9 August 2016

It was a early to start to the day on 9th August for my husband and myself as we were judging the finalists of 2016 Champion Beer Of Britain. The Great British Beer Festival where the judging takes place is held at Olympia. We got the train to Olympia the journey took a little longer than expected due to a train strike. On arrival we met up with fellow CAMRA members who were also lucky enough to be asked to judge this year's beers. We were taken through the National Hall where the GBBF is held, to the Apex Room which was set out with eight tables, armed with dried crackers and water. Each table represented the style of beer the judges will be tasting.

We were on the first round of judging which meant we were tasting beer before 10 o'clock in the morning, a hard job but we persevered. I was on the golden ales table along with the American Beer Writer Owen Ogletree, Brewers Association Sylvia Kopp, EBCU Jos Brouwer and four other CAMRA members. Lots of very interesting conversation was had on my table. I found out about some great beer festivals coming up which included Tokyo and Atlantic, Georgia, 'straight in the diary'.

My husband was on the strong bitters table, all I can say is good job I had the train tickets and travel times, say no more! He also had some very interesting people on his table Jessica Boak of the Boak & Bailey Beer Blog, Bob Crumpton of Titanic’s Brewery Tap and five other CAMRA judges.

On the other tables were external first round judges from many different areas but with one thing in common, a passion for good beer. There was beer writer John Porter, American beer writer Tommy Carroll, MEP Anne lies Dodds, Ray Bailey of Boak & Bailey, Department of Culture, Media and Sport Lizzy Mankelow, John Jones of Oysterband , Matt Electric In a Pub, Secretary to the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group Paul Hegarty, MP Mike Wood, Matt Wilson of Asset Match, Brewery Yeast Biotechnologist Southampton Western Brewery USA Jeff Rapp, Food Writer Charles Campion, Brewers Association’s Lotte Peplow, European Beer Writer Carl Kins and lots of CAMRA judges.

We were given nine samples, one at a time, of the best beers that had made it to the final of the Champion Beer of Britain. We judged the ales on their appearance, aroma, taste and aftertaste. We then had to score the beers out of 10. After tasting all nine beers we were able to revisit some of them.

After all the beers were judged we had a bit to eat and left the Apex Room so the next round of judging could take place. We then joined in the celebrations in the National Hall where the festival was in full swing. At around 3:00 pm the finalist for each category were announced and the Champion Beer of Britain was announced at an award ceremony later that evening. Here are the results.

We bumped into lots of people we knew including some of the reprobates from Kernow CAMRA branch, alongside the brewery teams from St Austell, Skinners, Driftwood, Penpont, Firebrand and Costal. As you can imagine a few more beers were sampled and a great day was had by all. Thanks to CAMRA and the Great British Beer Festival.

The Results of the day

Mild Category Gold Williams Bros Williams Black 3.6% Silver Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde 3.7% Bronze Acorn Darkness 3.3% Finalist Church End Gravediggers Ale 4.2% Finalist Facer's Mountain Mild 3.8% Finalist Nottingham Rock Ale Mild 3.8% Finalist Prospect Nutty Slack 4.2% Finalist RCH Hewish Mild 3.8% Finalist Triple FFF Pressed Rat & Warthog 3.9%

Bitter Category Gold Timothy Taylors Boltmaker 4.0% Silver Tiny Rebel Hank 4.0% Bronze Hawkshead Bitter 3.7% Bronze Salopian Shropshire Gold 3.8% Finalist Acorn Barnsley Bitter 3.8% Finalist Ashover Light Rale 3.7% Finalist Born in the Borders Game Bird 4.0% Finalist Buntingford Twitchell 3.8% Finalist Jennings Cumberland Ale 4.0% Finalist Lincoln Green Marion 3.8% Finalist Orkney Raven 3.8% Finalist Otley O1 4.0% Finalist Otter Amber 4.0% Finalist Purity Pure Gold 3.8% Finalist Windsor & Eton Windsor Knot 4.0% Finalist Woodforde’s Wherry 3.8%

Best Bitter Category Gold Surrey Hills Shere Drop 4.2% Silver Salopian Darwin's Origin 4.3% Bronze Colchester Colchester No1 4.1% Bronze Tiny Rebel Cwtch 4.6% Finalist B & T Dragon Slayer 4.5% Finalist Bank Top Flat Cap 4.0% Finalist Bath Ales Gem 4.1% Finalist Bathams Best Bitter 4.3% Finalist Castle Rock Elsie Mo 4.7% Finalist Leeds Leeds Best 4.3% Finalist Moorhouse's Pride of Pendle 4.1% Finalist Nene Valley Bitter 4.1% Finalist Ossett Big Red Bitter 4.0% Finalist Swannay Scapa Special 4.2% Finalist Tryst Carronade Pale Ale 4.2% Finalist Twisted Oak Spun Gold 4.5% Finalist Waen Pamplemousse 4.2%

Golden Ale Category Gold Golden Triangle Mosaic City 3.8% Silver Grey Trees Diggers Gold 4.0% Bronze Marble Lagonda IPA 5.0% Finalist Blue Monkey Infinity 4.6% Finalist Brass Castle Sunshine 5.7% Finalist Fyne Ales Jarl 3.8% Finalist RCH Pitchfork 4.3% Finalist Salopian Oracle 4.0% Finalist Surrey Hills Greensand IPA 4.6%

Strong Ale Category Gold Heavy Industry 77 4.9% Silver Hawkshead NZPA 6.0% Bronze Adnams Ghost Ship 4.5% Finalist Black Sheep Rigwelter 5.9% Finalist Castle Rock Screech Owl 5.5% Finalist Dark Star Revelation 5.7% Finalist Kinver Half Centurion 5.0% Finalist Otter Head 5.8%

Speciality Category Gold Binghams Vanilla Stout 5.0% Silver Titanic Plum Porter 4.9% Bronze Saltaire Triple Chocoholic 4.8% Finalist Harviestoun Schiehallion 4.8% Finalist Marble Earl Grey IPA 6.8% Finalist Moonshine Chocolate Orange Stout 6.7% Finalist Peak Ales Chatsworth Gold 4.6% Finalist Skinner’s Hops n Honey 4.0% Finalist Tiny Rebel Loki 4.5%

Champion Winter Beer Winners brought through to the 2nd Round Manchester 2016 Porter Facer's North Star Porter 4.0% Derby 2016 Porter Elland 1872 Porter 6.5% Derby 2016 Stout Plain Ales Inncognito 4.8% Manchester 2016 Stout Wibblers Crafty Stoat 5.3% Manchester 2016 Old Ale/Strong Mild Marble Chocolate Marble 5.5% Derby 2016 Old Ale/Strong Mild Old Dairy Snow Top 6.0% Derby 2016 Barley Wine/SOAle Tring Death or Glory 7.2% Manchester 2016 Barley Wine/SOAle Darwin Extinction Ale 8.3%

Champion Beer of Britain Winners Gold and Champion Beer of Britain Binghams Vanilla Stout 5.0% Silver Old Dairy Snow Top 6.0% Bronze Tring Death or Glory 7.2%

Sonia Bunce, Press Officer, CAMRA Kernow.