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Monday, 18 November 2013

Judging GBBF

camra beer of the year
We again donned our hi-vis jackets to walk through the exhibition hall of The Olympia, this time to judge the finest British beer produced from cask. I was given the task of judging the best beer of nine from the ‘strong bitter’ range. Again, the criteria was similar to the previous day, with beers being judged on appearance, aroma, taste and after taste. With this, we were also asked to consider the balance and depth of flavour with the main ingredients, again a slightly unfair task in that my category also included a range of I.P.As which will often focus primarily on the hops rather than the malt. Anyhow, dem’s the rules and I of course, had to adhere to them. The beers were marked P7-X7 and were as follows.
Highland Orkney IPA
P7 had little to nothing in the way of head which I shall not hold against it (same with the rest) as it had a turbulent, long journey from cask to jug to glass. The body though, was clear and bright and so was the scent, with an amazing, vibrant fruitiness. The first taste was similar to the aroma with a perfumed berry citrus counter-balanced with a deceptively subtle taste of light malt. Q7 meanwhile, was not so great with an overly boozy, solvent-like smell that had little subtlety and was not much better in the taste.
dark star festival
R & S 7 were probably the best of the lot, R possessing a large malty clout that was evident also in the darker, amber colour. There was a sweet and sourness to the beer that developed over the period of about 10-15 minutes in to a drink that showed levels of spice, nuts, tropical fruits and a ginger nut-esque wholesomeness. S7 had a lot of vanilla and fruitiness on the nose that was more subdued, the first taste having notes of banana, marmalade and allspice and finishing all malty with enough dry bitterness in the finish.

camra beer judging
T7 had malt and zest on the nose which then really hit the back of the throat in the first taste with sweet flavours of red apple. The general consensus of the after taste though was that it was a little bit ‘too much.’ U7 meanwhile, was clear, light and golden with a very strong zing of cascade hops and their customary, exaggerated Rowntrees fruitiness.
Thornbridge Jaipur
V7 didn’t fair very well. Despite my lack of criticism in regards to the retention of the head, the appearance was still poor; cloudy and murky. The aroma of it was also off, sulphureted and eggy with a wee bit of malt knocking around. The taste was under-whelming and the after-taste, non-existent. W7 as well, needed to be better. There was next to nothing in scent and was not much fun. A bit of fruitiness in the first taste was then entirely over-powered by sheer booze. Quite frankly, it was strong and nothing else…bit like a vindaloo.
X7 though, rounded the experience off nicely. The appearance was bright with sunshine and the first taste continued that summer theme with definitive notes of grapefruit and citrus. Like U7, it was very American with it being packed full of delicious Cascade hops.
Before re-entering the hall for the main event, the other judges and I were again guided in to a make-shift press room, strangely adorned with children’s toys, before being revealed the names of the beers that we had just judged. The beers were revealed as such.
P7: Highland ‘Orkney IPA’ 4.3%
Q7: Mordue ‘Radgie Gadgie’ 4.8%
R7: Dark Star ‘Festival’ 5.0%
S7: O’Hanlon’s ‘Stormstay’ 5.0%
T7: Rhymney ‘Export Ale’ 5.0%
U7: Salopian ‘Golden Thread’ 5.0%
V7: Moorhouse ‘Pendle Witch’ 5.1%
W7: Fat Cat ‘Marmalade Cat’ 5.5%
X7: Thornbridge ‘Jaipur’ 5.9%
The winners of the competition are below:-
Gold – Dark Star, Festival (from Horsham, West Sussex)
Silver – O’Hanlon’s, Stormstay (from Whimple, Devon)
Bronze – Highland, Orkney IPA (from Swannay, Orkney)

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