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20th July 2012


 An English lager, made by an English winemaker, has been declared one of the world’s best lagers.

The International Beer Challenge – which has been judging the world’s best beers for the past 16 years – today [Friday 20 July 2012] awarded Kent’s Chapel Down vineyard a gold medal for its Curious Brew premium lager.

The beer maker’s ‘Oscars’ are entered into by the world’s largest breweries all the way through to tiny, pioneering microbrewers.

This year, judges tasted over 400 beers before declaring the Kent winemaker’s lager to be the best of its class.

The Challenge deemed only 30 beers, from countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the USA, to be of gold medal standard.
Curious Brew was one of only three international lagers awarded a gold gong.

American brewery Samuel Adams picked up the other two lager gold’s [for its Double Bock and A Dark Night in Munich].

Chapel Down, who only started brewing beer two years ago [2010], believes that its success comes down to using the best quality products and, crucially, bringing wine-making thinking to the beer brewing process.

The vineyard uses East Anglian malt, saaz and cascade hops.

It then re-ferments the lager using the same Champagne yeast that also goes into its award-winning sparkling wines to create a highly drinkable and refreshing 4.7% abv lager beer.

Finally, the winemaker adds a “dosage” of very rare and fragrant Nelson Sauvin hops, before cold filtering the unpasteurised beer into bottles.

The whole process is overseen by Frazer Thompson, Chapel Down’s CEO.

Mr Thompson is a former ‘beer man’ having held senior posts at both Heineken and Whitbread.


Beer expert and author Pete Brown, says:


“I was intrigued when I first heard from Frazer that he was creating beers and I loved the results when I first tasted them.


“Brewing with champagne yeast is something you’d expect the Belgians to do and so is brewing a lager for that matter.


“The result is a lovely beer which has a sparkling zing that makes it refreshing, satisfying and a lovely halfway house between beer and a sparkling wine.


“The flavour is a fuller, more assertive beer that’s fruity and rounded, but still reined in at the end by a crisp dryness.”


Mr Thompson adds:


“We’ve changed people’s minds about English wine and now we want to do the same when it comes to lager.


“Mass-produced lagers taste like corporate cardboard and have the aroma of market research rather than hops.


“We’ve worked really hard to craft something that is more fragrant and more refreshing than other beers when served cold.


“This is a lager for people who love beer.


“Sometimes only a crisp, cold lager will do the job of slaking a thirst.”


Curious Brew is currently served on draught at Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack’s and several Jamie’s Italians, The Swan at London’s Globe Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Gordon Ramsay restaurants, ETM’s The Gun, The RAC Club, M&B’s Brown’s Brasseries as well as many leading independent pubs across the South East.


It can also be ordered by the case (24-bottles) directly from the Chapel Down vineyard ( for £29.99.




IBC Gold Medal Winners were revealed as:


Brasserie des Sources Bellerose France
Collesi Imper Ale Chiara Italy
Curious Brew Lager England
Doppio Malto Mahogany IPA Italy
Elgood’s Marks and Spencers Sandringham Diamond Ale  England
Floris Kriek Belgium
Fyne Hurricane Jack Scotland
Fyne Jarl Scotland
Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout England
Harveys Old Ale England
Harveys Prince of Denmark England
Innis and Gunn Irish Whisky Cask Scotland
Manns Brown England
McCashins Stoke Gold New Zealand
Moretti Doppio Malto Italy
Oakham Bishops Farewell England
Oakham Citra England
Samuel Adams A Dark Night In Munich USA
Samuel Adams Double Bock USA
Samuel Adams Third Voyage USA
Samuel Adams Triple Bock USA
Samuel Adams Utopias 2011 USA
Septem Sunday’s Honey Golden Dew Greece
Sharp’s Quadrupel Ale 2011 England
Shepherd Neame Late Red England
St Austell Marks and Spencers Cornish Ale England
St Austell Proper Black England
Trieste Theresianer Unfiltered Wit Italy
Valscura PatriarcAle Italy
Weihenstephaner Vitus Germany



A full list of all medal winners IBC winners will be published on 20 July at


For more information on Chapel Down and samples of Curious Brew please contact:

Harriet Sharp
Van Communications
8 Percy Street
London W1T 1DJ

TEL  +44 (0)20 7079 9222
FAX  +44 (0)20 7079 9223