A small brewery set up 23 years ago behind a pub in a former coffin shop has won Champion Beer of Britain at this year’s Great British Beer Festival at Olympia, London.
Church End Brewery’s Goat’s Milk, a tasty, balanced bitter with a well-judged hoppy flourish, beat thousands of beers to claim the title, pushing Ridley’s Rite from Bishop Nick Brewery, and former CBOB winner, Cwtch, from Tiny Rebel into second and third place respectively.
Now based on the Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire borders, Church End Brewery was set up by Stewart Elliott and his wife Rosemary. With a core range of 10 beers spanning the styles, numerous other small batch brews are crafted, many in response to customer requests from the two pubs the Elliotts own, The Dragon in Worcester, and the George & Dragon in Leicestershire.
Available in cask only, Goat’s Milk was originally brewed around 20 years ago for the historic Goat pub in Frognall, near Peterborough. Well known regionally.
‘This [award]is going to put us on the bigger map,’ said sales manager Paul Hamblett, pictured above.
With its blend of American and English hops – unusual 20 years ago – Goat’s Milk has stayed on the books, with only minor changes to the hop mix over the years. Formerly an engineer, Stewart had spent some time in the USA, witnessing first hand the arrival of the new wave of hops.
‘Hop merchants Charles Faram had a small supply,’ Stewart told Imbibe. And so Goat’s Milk was born.
Church End deliver primarily within a 50-mile radius, with a weekly longer-run further afield. Following news of his win, Stewart is gearing up for a few extra brews with brewer, Karl Graves to meet the already increasing demand.
Described by judges as a pale ale with ‘a floral aroma and satisfying bitterness’, Silver winner Ridley’s Rite from Bishop Nick Brewery is available in both cask (3.6% abv) and bottle (3.8%). Established in late 2013 and based in Braintree, Essex, Bishop Nick is looking to continue its organic growth and to expand beyond its south-east regional heartland.
Bronze winner Cwtch from Tiny Rebel is a red ale, crafted from six malts and three citrussy hops. It is available in cask, keg, bottle and can formats. Tiny Rebel has just opened its new £2.6m brewery in Newport.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary and expecting some 50,000 visitors, the Great British Beer Festival runs until 12 August, with over 900 beers and ciders on offer, plus the debut of an English wine and gin bar.