In Search of the Champion

The hunt for the North West’s top winter beer and best Overall Champion Beer of the North West will be coming to the Velodrome at the National Cycling Centre in January.

To say it is no easy feat being crowned the best winter beer in Britain would be a bit of an understatement. At the turn of the 21st century traditional winter beer styles such as Old Ales and Strong Milds were under threat, with many historic recipes overlooked in the face of dwindling consumer demand.

Fast forward a decade, and with the nation boasting over 1100 breweries regularly producing way in excess of 5,500 different real ales, a renaissance has occurred in recent years, and particularly in the field of outstanding dark, malty, rich and roasted beers for those colder months of the year. British beer drinkers are faced with more variety and choice than ever.

Such huge variety means that it has never been a more difficult time to judge the Regional winners that will then go forward to the National Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition in Derby. That winner will then go forward to the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival held in London in August.

While only a select number of real ales make it to the North West Regional Finals which are being held at Manchester Beer & Cider Festival – falling into the categories of Old Ales/Strong Milds, Porters, Stouts and Barley Wines – in reality the competition itself begins at grass roots level right across Britain soon after the previous year’s Finals have taken place.

With its vast local branch structure, CAMRA relies on its 150,000+ members to put forward branch and tasting panel nominations for the finest beers produced by brewers in the North West. Beers then make it through to the Finals held annually, with a judging panel usually consisting of brewers, publicans, drinks writers, CAMRA members and even the odd celebrity deciding upon the overall winners.

The Manchester Beer & Cider Festival is also pleased to have been chosen to host a new competition to find the Overall Champion Beer of the North West. The winner will be judged out of the 4 Winter Beer winners found here and the 6 other North West Region Beer categories which have been judged at other events around the North West during 2013.

With the future looking bright for all traditional beer styles, you’ll find champions both past and present at the festival – including the current Supreme Champion Beer Of Britain – Elland’s 1872 Porter and it’s predecessor – No 9 Barley Wine from Coniston Brewery. Each style has their own unique flavour profiles and the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival with over 300 beers to choose from offers a chance to explore the wonderful world of beer.