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4th March 2013

The Great British Home Brew Challenge 2012/13

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Craft brewing has had a resurgence across the world during the past few years and is having a fantastic influence on the brewing industry in the UK. With over 1100 breweries now operating, the range of beers styles available has never been greater. Many of the beers brewed in today’s new wave of breweries are brewed by professionally qualified brewers, others brewed by those that have developed skills through brewing at home. This reflects the tradition of brewing beer in the UK which until the advent of commercial breweries was in the main done at home and often by the woman of the house.

After a successful launch of the Great British Home Brew Challenge in 2011 the 2012/13 competition was launched in late November and last week the judging took place

Jim Harrison, Thornbridge MD, explains “A considerable number of home brewers develop great quality beers that can never be appreciated by a wider drinking public. The Home Brew Challenge  provides home brewers with an opportunity to match their beers against those of other enthusiasts, and have them tasted by a panel of expert beer judges”.

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The judges included top beer writer Pete Brown, Master Brewer Alex Barlow and  last year’s winner Paul Carruthers who said “It was an enormous honour to be invited by Thornbridge to be on the judging panel this year. The standard of entries was ridiculously high, and I’m clearly going to have to get some practice in if I’m going to be able to compete next year and try to regain the title!”

After hours of tasting the judges announced “Roc Fall” a 4.3% Best Bitter brewed by Tom Wright of Woking as this year’s winning beer.




A delighted Tom said “It’s always rewarding when people like your beer but to get that recognition from professionals is fantastic. I’m really looking forward to seeing my beer in pubs, not only that, but having the opportunity to brew it with the guys from such a well respected brewery as Thornbridge is an experience that will be extremely hard to beat”.


Tom is already planning his trip to Thornbridge to get involved in the brewing  of  “Roc Fall”. Once brewed it will be made available throughout Nicholson’s 80 pubs across the UK.


Ben Lockwood, Brand Manager for Nicholson’s, another judge in this year’s final, said “The very high standard of the beer entered into the 2012/13 competition is a testament to the quality being produced by home brewers.  We are delighted to be able to offer Tom the chance for his beer to be available in our pubs as the pub remains, of course, the best place to experience great British beer.”


Lockwood’s comments are echoed by Greg Hughes of Brew UK “The standard of the beer entered into the competition is a testament to the quality being produced by home brewers.  Slowly the traditional view on home brewed beers is changing. Home brew is no longer a sub standard, poorly made product but a high quality, carefully produced, craft beer.”






Notes to Editors:


Brew UK supply high quality specialist wine, cider and beer homebrew kits nationwide. They aim to get a nation brewing and offer a range of options to help people get started right in their own homes; from hops and malts to cleaning products to bottling products to ensure that the brewer and their friends get to enjoy the fruits of their labours.


Nicholson’s are a collection of heritage pubs founded in 1873 that are waiting to be discovered. Offering timeless British hospitality at its best, they pride themselves on an unrivalled cask ale range, fantastic food offer and a fine wine selection.


The first Thornbridge craft beers were produced in February 2005 in a 10 barrel brewery, housed in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall, Derbyshire. Based on the innovation, passion and knowledge of their brewers Thornbridge aims to produce high quality beers using the best natural ingredients. Their range of cask, keg and bottled beers has gained considerable success with over 300 consumer and industry awards being won. In September 2009 they opened a new state of the art 30 barrel brewery in Bakewell.






A full list of all Great British Home Brew Challenge 2012 category winners:


Milds : Daniel Judge, Sheffield

Standard Bitter: Mat Breslin, York

Best Bitters:  Tom Wright, Woking

Porters, Stouts and Old Ales:  Gareth Reid, Fife

Premium Bitters:  Lee Spence, Wirral

Strong Bitter:  Alec Wallace, Birmingham

Speciality Beer:  David Pilbeam, Horsham


Picture (courtesy of ‘Chris Thompson /‘)


Left to right: “Judging is a hard day’s work”.


Pete Brown

Paul Carruthers

Phil Turner

Rob Lovatt

Ben Lockwood

Jules Gray

Alex Barlow




Alex Buchanan

Marketing Manager


Riverside Brewery, Buxton Road, Bakewell DE45 1GS

Mob: 07900 416 812

Office: 01629 64 1000