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Spanish Stout Takes Top Prize In New Beer Contest

A stout from a brewer in Spain’s Basque country has taken the only Gold medal at the inaugural London Beer Competition, leading a field of 21 medal winners from the judging that took place in the capital last month.

Black Gold, an 8.5% ABV stout aged in rum barrels from the Basque Oak Brewery, was awarded the 90+ points required to take a Gold by a panel of 12 beer experts. Eight beers were awarded a Silver medal after scoring between 76-89, with a further 12 taking away a Bronze (65-75 points). Sambrook’s Brewery from London took three Silver medals, and the Brewery of the Year title.

The London Beer Awards were launched in late 2017 by global drinks experts Beverage Trade Network, plugging a gap in the market for an award that judges beers in the way that consumers judge them – assessing not just their taste, but also their packaging and value for money.

Chief executive of Beverage Trade Network Sid Patel said, “At all the major competitions, beers are judged solely on the quality of what’s in the bottle or can.  We wanted to take a different approach, by asking our judges to look at beers the way shoppers do, adding appearance and value for money into the mix.

“The best-tasting beer in the world will stay on the supermarket shelf unless the pack design and price point appeal to the consumer. Equally, if the taste doesn’t live up to expectations, there will be no repeat purchase.

“Including all three factors in the judging produces results that are closer to the reality of the way consumers purchase beers and gives brewers better feedback on how their beers are perceived by shoppers.”

At the judging session, judges tasted and scored beers ‘blind’ before seeing bottles or cans and marking them for on-shelf appeal as well as value for money.

The majority of the medals went to UK brewers, though beers from Spain, Italy, the USA and Sri Lanka were also winners. Reinforcing the robustness of the London Beer Competition, many had won awards in other contests, including Sambrook’s Brewery, based in Wandsworth, who took the Brewery of the Year title after scoring more points than any other brewer and three Silver medals. Best in Show awards went to Wold Gold from Yorkshire brewer Wold Top and Dark Island Reserve from Orkney Brewery, as well as to Sambrook’s and Basque Oak.

Patel said, “Launching a new competition is exciting but also daunting, especially when it radically changes the way beers are judged. We’re delighted with the first London Beer Competition, which attracted entries from award-winning brewers in the UK and further afield and a panel of respected industry judges.

“We are already making plans to run the competition again in 2019 and will be opening entries towards the end of this year.”

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