Fuller’s 1845 has been crowned the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain in CAMRA’s annual award, recognising the best bottle-conditioned beer in the country.
The 6.3 per cent strong ale was described by judges as rich and fruity, matured to perfection and easy drinking.
Durham Brewery’s Temptation Imperial was runner-up and St Austell’s Big won bronze.
The judging and announcement took place at the BBC Good Food Show, Birmingham NEC, following a series of local member voting rounds and regional judging competitions throughout the year.
CAMRA director Gillian Hough said: “The Champion Bottled Beer of Britain competition is a national celebration of bottle-conditioned real ale and is the culmination of hard work by local brewery teams from across the country, and CAMRA members who select and judge the beers regionally.
“The announcement of the winner could not be made at a better place – the BBC Good Food Show is the epitome of all things good in the food and drink industry, and it’s a privilege to be here.
“Congratulations to Fuller’s, Durham Brewery, St Austell, and all of our finalists, who have made it such a brilliant competition.”
Fuller’s head brewer, Georgina Young, said: “This beer was the brainchild of our former head brewer, the great Reg Drury, to celebrate 150 years of brewing at Fuller’s – so I’m delighted that it is still as popular as ever 23 years later. It was also the beer that caused amber malt to be reintroduced to British brewing – a malt that is now widely used in a large number of beers.
“Winning the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain award is a real honour – I think we will be celebrating at Chiswick by drinking a few bottles.”
The notion of vintage beer was possibly conceived in 1995, when the Prince of Wales visited the Fuller’s brewery and under the watchful eye of Reg Drury, threw a handful of hops into a copper, as his contribution to the brewery’s 150th anniversary brew. The resultant beer was the bottle-conditioned beer, 1845.
Seeing how well 1845 matured in the bottle, Reg decided in 1997 to create Vintage Ale, a spectacular, limited edition strong beer that is now released annually, and is vintage dated. It is a practice Young has continued, and each year a new vintage is brewed with different varieties of malt and hops, but always to the same strength.
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