‘I’m amazed’: 16% stout named best house beer at the Great British Beer Festival | Beer
A stout beer with an alcohol content of over 16% has won the inaugural home brew competition at Campaign for Real Ale’s Great British Beer Festival.
The competition was organized to capitalize on a home-brewing boom during the lockdown which continued to thrive during the cost of living crisis.
The winning house beer, an imperial stout called Doggy in the Woods by Stephen Folland of Great Shefford near Hungerford, Berkshire, was chosen from more than 170 entries. At 16.1%, it’s the strongest beer to ever win a Camra award.
Folland’s prize is to have his homemade stout commercially produced by the Brewhouse & Kitchen in Worthing.
Speaking to the Guardian, Folland, 59, an engineer for an online marketing company, said: “I am stunned – I never thought in a million years that I would win with such a strong beer. The prospect of brewing on a commercial scale is really exciting.
Folland said he started brewing at home in 2017 “because I was bored with some of the local beer offerings and felt confident that I could brew beer better.” And he believes the home-brewing trend will increase as the cost of a pint rises.
A YouGov poll commissioned by Camra for the festival found that for the first time more than half now think the price of beer is unaffordable. Official figures from last week showed that the average the price of a pint exceeded £4 for the first time and is well over £6 in London.
Folland said: “A lot of my friends started brewing in lockdown because they needed something to do. As pub prices rise, the gap between making your own and going to a pub is much wider, so the cost of living crisis will only fuel the home brew hobby .
Folland said the secret to the flavor of his winning beer was letting it mellow for five years.
The panel of five judges were impressed with the flavor of the beer despite its strength. One of the judges, Phil Cooke, owner of the Hop Inn in Hornchurch, said: “Brewing very strong beers is very difficult. Brewing such a drinkable 16.1% beer is absolutely stunning.
Labor MP Charlotte Nichols, chair of the pubs caucus, confessed strong ales were ‘not really my thing’, but when judging she said: ‘I actually really like it. You could almost put it on ice.
Second prize went to the lowest-alcohol beer from the shortlist of 12, a mild one called Crooner by Mark Sanderson, from Catford in south London. He said: “We’ve all had to drink horrible home brew that you have to be polite about, so brewing something that people actually want to drink is a really wonderful feeling.”
Beer writer Laura Hadland, who wrote a Camra story and helped judge the shortlist, said, “I thought the standard was really high.”
She added: “Cask ale is a great British product. It’s something we do better than anyone else in the world, so I like people to take the plunge and try to do it themselves. Many small brewers come from a homebrew background.
She added: “It will absolutely save you money if you can successfully brew beer, even if you’re starting from scratch.”
His favorite beer was a specialty salty sweet and sour beer, called Margarita Gose, which placed third overall. She said, “It’s got this amazing Margarita vibrancy, but in beer form.”
Its brewer, Thomas Corry, 33, a physics teacher at Farnham in Surrey, said: “Home brewing is about creating new flavors and doing stupid things in my garage that a commercial brewer can’t. . I wanted to see how cocktails could be fused with beers.
He added: “You can brew a beer for less than a pound a pint, whereas in a pub you’re looking at up to £6 a pint for craft beer, so a lot of people are going for home brew. I made most of my beer with a kit under £100.