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Church End sales manager Paul Hamblett:continued success due to never compromising on anything

Champion Beer of Britain: Church End claims top honour

In the end it was a bitter that claimed the sweetest of honours at this year’s GBBF. Goat’s End from Church End Brewery was tops after of an intensive year-long judging process to find the Champion Beer of Britain.

Goat’s End, a name derived not from the ruminant mammal but from a beer festival at the Goat pub where the beer was first served, is 3.8% abv and brewed from a blend of pale barley, crystal malt and oats.

And as might be expected, Champion Beer status has provided a commercial boost for Church End. Goat’s End was neck and neck with Fox’s Hat for the brewery’s best-selling core beer brand. Now, according to sales manager Paul Hamblett, it’s moving streets ahead.

“All of our existing customers are very pleased for us, I think, and we are absolutely hearing from people we don’t normally hear from as well,” he reported.

That said there’s awareness at Church End that the sudden fame and subsequent fortune that befalls a Champion Beer recipient may, in the end, be fleeting. As such, Goat’s Milk is to remain solely as cask ale; there are no plans to have it bottled or canned.

“The thing we always have to be mindful of is its big news now and so try to capitalise on it but it’s forgotten in 2-3 years’ time,” said Hamblett.

“We will use it to our best advantage but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”

Church End, which was founded in 1994, making it one of the UK’s longer serving craft brewers, is averaging 50 barrels a week in production and now own three pubs. Hamblett noted that its continued success is due to a combination of consistent product quality, good customer service and never “compromising on anything.”

And this, in these increasingly competitive times, includes price. “We don’t give it away, it’s that simple,” said Hamblett. “We don’t get sucked into that game.”

Nick Boley, CAMRA’s national director with responsibility for the competition, congratulated Church End.

“Goat’s Milk is a stand out beer. It has a lovely balance of malts and hops and a full flavour. It is a very fine example of a bitter and is incredibly refreshing.”

In a reassuring moment of judging consistency, Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch, Champion Beer of Britain as recently as 2015, finished third overall in this year’s CAMRA judging. Sandwiched in between it and Church End was Essex brewer Bishop Nick, silver medallist for its bitter Ridley’s Rite.

The full lists of medallists announced at this summer’s Great British Beer Festival are listed here. (Note that in some categories two bronze medals were awarded.)

Overall winners  Brewery              Beer
Gold                     Church End          Goat's Milk
Silver                    Bishop Nick        Ridley's Rite
Bronze                 Tiny Rebel            Cwtch

Mild                   Brewery               Beer
Gold                  Rudgate                 Ruby Mild
Silver                West Berkshire      Maggs Magnificent Mild
Bronze              Winter's                 Mild

Bitter                 Brewery          Beer
Gold                  Church End      Goat's Milk
Silver                 Bishop Nick     Ridley's Rite
Bronze              Triple fff           Alton's Pride
                          Sambrook's       Wandle Ale

Best Bitter        Brewery           Beer
Gold                  Tiny Rebel        Cwtch
Silver                 Blackedge         Pike
Bronze              Surrey Hills       Shere Drop
                         West Berkshire  Good Old Boy

Golden Ale     Brewery            Beer
Gold                Blue Monkey     Infinity
Silver               Fyne Ales         Jarl
Bronze             Oakham            Citra
                        Ludlow              Gold

Strong Bitter  Brewery          Beer
Gold                Greytrees        Afghan Pale Ale
Silver              Barngates        Red Bull Terrier
Bronze            Salopian          Automaton

Speciality   Brewery            Beer
Gold            Saltaire             Triple Chocoholic
Silver           Blackedge        Black Port Porter
Silver           Cromarty          Red Rocker

Larry Nelson
th August 2017

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