After over a year of local tasting panels and regional heats leading up to the finals, CAMRA has announced that Lacons Audit Ale is the winner of the Champion Winter Winter Beer of Britain competition at The Halls, Norwich, on Tuesday 19th February 2019.
The 8% barley wine was crowned champion at the winter festival, organised by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) in association with its Norwich & Norfolk Branch.
The festival continues to run until Saturday 23rd February, where ales from the competition finalists are available to sample, together with many other beers of every season, shade and style including golden beers, ciders and world beers.
Festival Organiser Martin Ward commented: " The CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain is one of the most prestigious beer competitions in the world. It is the ultimate honour for UK brewers and has helped put many into the national spotlight. Lacons’ Audit Ale is a very worthy winner of one of CAMRA's highest accolades."
The barley wine was crowned the Winter Champion over a host of other finalists in four different beer categories (barley wine & strong old ales, old ales & strong milds, porters and stouts), including beers from both small microbrewers and large regional brewers.
This year's overall runner up went to Calverley’s Porter, while Old Engine Oil by Harviestoun took home the Bronze award.
The beers have already won many local and regional heats in order to be presented for the national award, so judges are able to ensure a consistent standard of quality in all of the beers in the competition.
Nick Boley, CAMRA's National Director responsible for the competition, commented on the winning ale, Lacons Audit Ale: "We were very impressed with the standard and quality this year. The champion, Audit Ale, is a very worthy winner and was described by judges as incredibly well-rounded, with not a harsh bone in its body and the perfect balance of flavour."
Following over a year of local tasting panels and regional heats, Audit Ale impressed judges for its enticing aroma of marmalade and peach. It was described as “packed with berry fruits and spices”.
Only available on limited release, Audit Ale was named after a number of Cambridge and Oxford University colleges celebrated the end of their annual audits with the special brew. By popular demand, it was exported to the USA in champagne-style bottles from 1937.
Ian Stamp, Chairman of Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA, added: "This is a big year for us, being the third and final year of hosting the awards and the winter festival, with over 7,500 in our first year and over 10,000 attendees last year and more expected to attend this year – with the CAMRA festival moving to Birmingham, West Midlands Region – New Bingley Hall - in 2020."
Ian added: "We can all raise a glass to the fantastic team of volunteers, brewers and judges here in Norwich, as well as the Fringe Festival host publicans, for launching the 2019 Great British Beer Festival Winter in style."
Ian also wishes to remind winter-beer lovers that they may taste the award-winning beers in Blackfriars’ Hall this week, until the festival closes on Saturday 23rd February at 10.30pm, stocks permitting. Entrance is by advance-ticket or payment on the door.
Martin Ward, Festival Organiser, has added that the beers available in St Andrew’s Hall are a selection of shades and styles, from gold summer beers to the darker winter ales, so there is something to please everyone.
Should you wish to make your selection from the online beer listing, it can be found here - winter.gbbf.org.uk/beer – it shows beers coming soon, currently available and those which have sadly sold out, so do hurry along.
There is a range of hot and cold food offered daily with live entertainment at The Halls from Thursday evening with more live bands on Friday and Saturday lunchtimes and evenings. See the winter.gbbf.org.uk website for more information.
Champion Winter Beer of Britain winners:
Gold – Lacons’ Brewery Audit Ale
Silver – Calverley’s Porter
Bronze – Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil
Barley Wine, Strong Old Ales
Gold – Lacons’ Audit Ale
Silver – Tring Death or Glory
Bronze – Robinson’s Old Tom
Old, Aged, Strong Milds
Gold – Tintagel Excalibur
Silver – Harvey’s Old Ale
Bronze – Brampton Mild
Gold – Calverley’s Porter
Silver – Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Bronze – Dancing Duck Indian Porter
Gold – Plain Ales Inncognito
Silver – Dark Star Imperial Stout
Bronze – Cairngorn, Black Gold