Snowflake takes GBBF Winter beer title

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Winter warmer: (l-r) CAMRA awards director Laura Emson, Simon Massey and CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona.
Winter warmer: (l-r) CAMRA awards director Laura Emson, Simon Massey and CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona.

Related tags Camra Cask ale Great british beer festival Brewer

Sarah Hughes Brewery’s Snowflake has taken the title of Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2024 at the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) Winter.

The Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition marked the first day of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Great British Beer Festival Winter 2024, which is running until Saturday 17 February at Burton Town Hall, Burton-upon-Trent.

The annual beer festival provides an opportunity to showcase the best traditional winter brews in the country, with categories such as barley wines, strong old ales and stouts.

Accredited European Beer Consumers Union beer judge and chair of the judging panel Christine Cryne described Sarah Hughes’s beer as: “A beautiful amber barley wine. The fruity, slightly spiced nose invited the drinker to indulge. The rich, smooth, sweet palate had orange spicy notes balanced by a growing bitterness, leading to a spicy dry bitterness. Remarkably moreish.

“The judges were impressed with the quality of the beers in the final and thought they all had something to say.”

Fantastic news

Simon Massey, director of Sarah Hughes Brewery and the Beacon Hotel added: “This is fantastic news. Quality is what we strive for and it is all down to the brilliant team who work in the brewery and the pub.

“This batch of Snowflake was brewed in September and sold out in two weeks over the Christmas period. We always put it out at the start of the Dudley Winter Ales Festival, where it sold out there too.

“I am very proud for my head brewer Ricky Follos. This is a massive achievement and he should be very chuffed. The hard work really has paid off.”

Must-visit destination

He continued: “The brewery closed in the mid-1950s, but my uncle, John Hughes, reinstated the brewery in 1987. He had a vision of what it could be and I hope this award makes Sarah Hughes Brewery and the Beacons Hotel pub a must-visit destination in the Black Country.”

The judges’ notes on the runners-up for Elland Brewery, 1872 Porter 6.5% ABV (Joint Silver) were: “Lovely looking ruby black beer with roasted coffee, caramelised fruit and a touch of dark plums on the palate, which is sweet. This sweetness is balanced by a growing spicy bitterness that lingers. A beer for all seasons.”

And on Muirhouse Brewery, Magnum Mild 4.5% ABV (Joint Silver), the judges noted: “Black strong mild with a creamy head. Aromas of milk chocolate and a hint of sweet vanilla. Flavour is slightly smoky with dark treacle and a roasty dry bitterness. This is balanced by some caramelised fruit and a sweetness that lingers in the dry bitter finish. Drinks fuller than the 4.5% ABV strength.”

Award winners at the Great British Beer Festival Winter

Overall winners

Gold: Sarah Hughes Brewery - Snowflake

Joint Silver: Elland Brewery – 1872 Porter and Muirhouse Brewery – Magnum Mild

Brown Ales, Red Ales, Old Ales and Strong Milds

Gold: Muirhouse Brewery – Magnum Mild

Silver: Windswept Brewing Co - Wolf

Bronze: Tiny Rebel Brewing - Cwtch

Session Stouts and Porters

Gold: Lancaster Brewery – Lancaster Black

Silver: Church End Brewery – Stout Coffin

Bronze: Cullercoats Brewery – Polly Donkin Oatmeal Stout

Strong Stouts and Porters

Joint Gold: Elland Brewery – 1872 Porter and Green Jack Brewery – Baltic Porter

Bronze: Longdog – Lamplight Porter

Barley Wines and Strong Ales

Gold: Sarah Hughes Brewery - Snowflake

Silver: Moor Beer Co – Old Freddy Walker

Bronze: Green Jack Brewery - Ripper

Speciality, Differently Produced

Gold: Chapter Brewing – Dead Man’s Fist

Silver: Cromarty Brewing – Red Rocker

Bronze: Treen’s Brewery - Smoulder

Speciality, Differently Flavoured

Gold: Purple Moose Brewery - Elderflower Ale (Cwrw Ysagwen)

Silver: Cerne Abbas - Gurt Coconuts Rum Stout

Bronze: Enville - Ginger

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