It’s the big one - the competition that every brewer of real ale wants to win. Every year at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival, the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain is announced.

The winner this year is one of the most interesting beers we’ve ever had: Harvey’s Imperial Double Stout, a worthy victor. Beer Hawk’s co-founder Chris France was one of the judges. He says: ‘This year’s panel really struggled to pick a winner. In the end Harvey’s edged it due to the complexity and quality of the flavours going on, but others like Mordue, Wye Valley and Otley’s Oxymoron were all battling hard. So another great event and nice to see so many more dark beers coming through this year.’

Beer judging is a very serious business... no really! Each competition has its own criteria and rules. CAMRA’s guidelines state the following: ‘The underlying question for CAMRA events is ‘Is this beer true to style?’’ To aid with that, judges are given detailed descriptions for each style with bittering unit and original gravity ranges for each and indicative statements like ‘Diacetyl should be minimised’ (Bitters) ‘should have little or no malt’ (Golden Ales). You then simply try each one and mark it out of 10 against appearance, aroma, flavour and finish, with flavour being worth double points to give a score out of 50. There are seven judges and the highest three scores are then re-tasted, partially for pleasure (!) and to decide the rankings.

THE WINNER: Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout (The Champion)

Beer Hawk co-founder and Champion Bottle-Conditioned Beer of Britain  judge Chris France said: ‘Simply the most intense beer I have ever tasted. The complexity of the flavours are so huge it’s hard to break them out. It’s thick treacle, huge boozy fruits, sherry, maybe port and a hundred other things all distilled into this little bottle and then marinaded in melted oak. A must-try.’


The 15 finalists: Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout (The Champion)

Mordue IPA (Runner Up)

Otley Blonde

Castle Rock Elsie Moe

Elland 1872 Porter

Fullers 1845

Hook Norton Double Stout

Otley Oxymoron

Rebel Bal Maiden

Wye Valley Butty Bach

Stewart Radical Road

8 Sail Damson Porter

Beowulf Dark Raven

Coniston Bluebird

Hobsons Old Henry