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16th February 2024

Sarah Hughes Brewery’s Snowflake named CAMRA’s Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2024

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has awarded Sarah Hughes Brewery’s Snowflake the title of Champion Winter Beer of Britain (CWBOB) 2024 at the Great British Beer Festival Winter.

The Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition marks the first day of CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival Winter 2024, which is running from February 15-17 at Burton Town Hall, Burton-upon-Trent. The annual beer festival provides an opportunity to showcase the best traditional winter brews in the country, with categories such as barley wines, strong old ales and stouts.

Staffed by beer-loving volunteers, the Great British Beer Festival Winter brings hundreds of UK and international beers, plus real ciders and perries, to a different venue every two years.

Accredited European Beer Consumers Union beer judge and chair of the CWBOB judging panel Christine Cryne described Sarah Hughes’ beer as: “A beautiful amber barley wine. The fruity, slightly spiced nose invited the drinker to indulge. The rich, smooth, sweet palate had orange spicy notes balanced by a growing bitterness, leading to a spicy dry bitterness. Remarkably moreish.”

Christine added: “The judges were impressed with the quality of the beers in the final and thought they all had something to say.”

Simon Massey, Director of Sarah Hughes Brewery and the Beacon Hotel said: “This is fantastic news! Quality is what we strive for, and it is all down to the brilliant team who work in the brewery and the pub. This batch of Snowflake was brewed in September and sold out in two weeks over the Christmas period. We always put it out at the start of the Dudley Winter Ales Festival, where it sold out there too.

“I am very proud for my Head Brewer Ricky Follos. This is a massive achievement, and he should be very chuffed. The hard work really has paid off!

“The brewery closed in the mid 50s, but my uncle, John Hughes, reinstated the brewery in 1987. He had a vision of what it could be, and I hope this award makes Sarah Hughes Brewery and the Beacons Hotel pub a must-visit destination in the Back Country.”

In response to the struggles facing the pub and brewing trade, Simon said: “It is going to be another tough year for the industry. My overhead costs have doubled.”

The joint runners up in the competition were Elland Brewery’s 1872 Porter 6.5% ABV and Muirhouse Brewery’s Magnum Mild 4.5%.

CAMRA’s Awards Director Laura Emson said: “Congratulations to Sarah Hughes Brewery on their well-deserved win, Snowflake is an incredible example of a barley wine. Each year, judging this competition gets harder and harder as the quality beer produced by UK brewers continues to astound us.

“This year’s runner up and last year’s CWBOB winner, Elland Brewery’s 1872 Porter, went on to clinch the celebrated Champion Beer of Britain 2023 award as well. It was deeply upsetting to hear that this multi-award-winning brewery is now facing liquidation, just six months after claiming CAMRA’s top prize. The pub, brewing and cider making industries are in turmoil and unless government offers meaningful support to the sector in the upcoming Spring Budget, the UK risks losing many more of its talented brewers.

“I want to thank the hardworking volunteers and judges who have made the festival and the Champion Winter Beer of Britain possible. Congratulations once again to Sarah Hughes brewery and all our fantastic category winners. I wish them all the best of luck in the overall Champion Beer of Britain 2024 competition.”

This year’s Gold and Joint Silver award winners will be available at the Great British Beer Festival Winter this week while stocks last.

The category winners from the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition will be entered into the overall Champion Beer of Britain competition later this year.


Notes to editors:

All category winners

Overall Winners:

Gold: Sarah Hughes Brewery – Snowflake

Joint Silver: Elland Brewery – 1872 Porter and Muirhouse Brewery – Magnum Mild

Brown Ales, Red Ales, Old Ales and Strong Milds:

Gold: Muirhouse Brewery – Magnum Mild

Silver: Windswept Brewing Co – Wolf

Bronze: Tiny Rebel Brewing – Cwtch

Session Stouts and Porters:

Gold: Lancaster Brewery – Lancaster Black

Silver: Church End Brewery – Stout Coffin

Bronze: Cullercoats Brewery – Polly Donkin Oatmeal Stout

Strong Stouts and Porters:

Joint Gold: Elland Brewery – 1872 Porter and Green Jack Brewery – Baltic Porter

Bronze: Longdog – Lamplight Porter

Barley Wines and Strong Ales:

Gold: Sarah Hughes Brewery – Snowflake

Silver: Moor Beer Co – Old Freddy Walker

Bronze: Green Jack Brewery – Ripper

Speciality, Differently Produced:

Gold: Chapter Brewing – Dead Man’s Fist

Silver: Cromarty Brewing – Red Rocker

Bronze: Treen’s Brewery – Smoulder

Speciality, Differently Flavoured:

Gold: Purple Moose Brewery – Elderflower Ale (Cwrw Ysagwen)

Silver: Cerne Abbas – Gurt Coconuts Rum Stout

Bronze: Enville – Ginger

Runners up judges’ tasting notes:

Elland Brewery, 1872 Porter (Joint Silver): “Lovely looking ruby black beer with roasted coffee, caramelised fruit and a touch of dark plums on the palate, which is sweet. This sweetness is balanced by a growing spicy bitterness that lingers. A beer for all seasons!”

Muirhouse Brewery, Magnum Mild (Joint Silver): “Black strong mild with a creamy head. Aromas of milk chocolate and a hint of sweet vanilla. Flavour is slightly smoky with dark treacle and a roasty dry bitterness. This is balanced by some caramelised fruit and a sweetness that lingers in the dry bitter finish. Drinks fuller than the 4.5% ABV strength.”

More information about the Champion Winter Beer of Britain award can be found here:

More information about the Great British Beer Festival Winter can be found here:

About CAMRA:

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 150,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.

Media Contact:  

CAMRA Press Office:

01727 337863

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