Champion Beer of Britain (CBoB) – how it works

The Champion Beer Of Britain (CBoB) competition is one of CAMRA’s flagship awards and is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards by the breweries in the United Kingdom that win it. 

There are eight CBoB areas, – these are London & South East, South West, East Anglia, East Midlands, West Midlands, North East & Yorkshire, Scotland & Northern Ireland and North West – these don’t mirror the 16 CAMRA regions, and some CBoB areas cover more than one CAMRA region.  

There are currently competitions covering 11 beer styles – milds, bitters, best bitters, golden ales, strong bitters, speciality beers, old ales/strong milds, stouts, porters and barley wines/strong old ales, and bottled varieties. CAMRA is currently reviewing its beer styles guide so these styles may change in future.

Nominations process

Every year in September CAMRA members  nominate their favourite beers, up to five in each style. Also at this stage, tasting panels from each CAMRA region have their chance to nominate beers they believe should go forward to the next stage. The results from members’ votes, and the tasting panel nominations  form a short list of the most recommended beers.

Ideally the next stage is for local judging. This is usually at CAMRA or pub based beer festivals, to give the opportunity to select an area winner. This can be a prestigious local award. These choices can then go forward to judging at The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) and GBBF Winter (for the four winter beer styles – old ales/strong milds, stouts, porters and barley wines/strong old ales) and, hence, to find CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain (and Champion Winter Beer of Britain).

The Finals

At the GBBF the final CBoB category judging of the area winners takes place, with one winning beer from the Speciality Beer, Mild and Strong Bitter categories, coupled with two each from the Bitter, Golden Ale and Best Bitter categories proceeding into the final round in order to judge the Supreme Champion, which is crowned the best beer in Britain. The reason for two beers each from the Bitter, Golden Ale and Best Bitter categories is to accommodate for the proportionate share of the commercial beer market these beer styles command.

Four beers are fast tracked to the final round at GBBF; these are the winners of each category of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain (CWBoB) competition, held at the GBBF Winter festival in January-February each year. As these beers were judged to be the Champion Beers of their style earlier in the year, they are entered automatically into the final round of CBoB.

The CWBoB competition is similar in its structure to CBoB, as the final round of judging is made up of beers having reached this stage via the process of CAMRA members’ and tasting panels’ nominations, followed by area competition success. The categories in this competition are Old Ales/Strong Milds, Porters, Stouts and Barley Wines/Strong Old Ales.

There is a separate competition for the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain (which now includes cans too). Like CBoB the structure of the competition relies upon CAMRA members and tasting panel nominations, followed by the area competitions, with the final usually held at the BBC Good Food Show in November.

Eligibility

Beers are categorised according to their ABV, as it is now considered that this is more reflective of style and easier for most beer drinkers to understand.  To be eligible for CBOB, a cask conditioned bitter, best bitter, strong bitter or golden ale must be available for seven or more months of the year, and a cask conditioned mild or speciality beer must be available for three or more months of the year, or the cask beer must be one of the beer styles associated with the winter season. We also categorise according to their Original Gravity (OG). If we have two beers with the same abv then we turn to the OG.

Beers with misleadingly promoted geographical origin, brands with non-cask versions promoted using CAMRA awards, or beers which have sexist or otherwise discriminatory pump clips or other branding are excluded.

Graham Donning

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