New research released today by organisers of the Great British Beer Festival shows there are now more different real ales being brewed in the UK than ever before.
With more breweries per head than anywhere else on earth, and an average of eight core beers now being produced by brewers – a staggering 11,000+ in total – there has never been a better time to be a British beer drinker.
“The Great British Beer festival is all about offering the widest choice of fantastic beers all under one roof. This year we have some really interesting beers for people to try, from beers aged in bourbon barrels or brewed with fresh oysters, to beers that are bright green or flavoured with chillies. We’re confident there’ll be a beer that everybody will love.” Tom Stainer, CAMRA Head of Communications.
The research takes into account core beers as well as beers brewed for at least three months of the year, but doesn’t include the thousands of one-off specials, limited edition and seasonal beers brewed across the UK. This year the Great British Beer Festival will feature more than 300 British breweries, as well as hundreds of international beers, ciders and perries.
Here’s a selection of some winning, wonderful, or downright weird beers available at GBBF this year:
Venom by Potbelly Brewery
This bright green beer is a first at the Great British Beer Festival. No tasting notes are printed in the programme as we want people to be surprised by the flavour after being intrigued by the colour. Not for the faint hearted…
Pentonville Oyster Stout by Hammerton Brewery
Brewed with dark malts for a rich, roasted flavour, which is strangely complimented by a background salty tang – given to the beer by the addition of real, fresh oysters during brewing. Which, believe it or not, was a traditional way of brewing stout once upon a time.
Cwtch by Tiny Rebel
This year’s winner of the Champion Beer of Britain competition is named after the Welsh word for ‘cuddle’ and was a huge hit with judges. A modern take on a traditional bitter, it is aromatic and bitter yet beautifully balanced by fruity malt flavours.
Bourbon Milk Stout by Sonnet 43
Brewed with oats, cocoa and lactose sugar (the same sugar present in milk) before being aged in bourbon barrels this luscious, creamy stout is dessert in a glass yet surprisingly drinkable.
Skull Splitter by Orkney Brewery
The strongest cask beer available at the festival is aptly named, with an intensity and strength more readily associated with wine rather than beer. Full of flavour, slightly sweet, and dangerously moreish.
Hebden’s Wheat by Little Valley Brewery
A German style hefeweizen with a Yorkshire accent. A golden pale yellow in colour and with a great fruity wheat beer flavour, this is a perfect example of how British brewers are adopting international styles and serving them up as quaffable cask beers.
Boltmaker by Timothy Taylor
Last year’s Supreme Champion Beer of Britain is a classic best-bitter with a great balance of biscuit malt and fruity hop flavours. A great beer that is now just starting to get the recognition it deserves – a result of the brewery’s flagship beer ‘Landlord’ being so popular for so long.