Cumbrian beer judged Best in Britain, London revealed as most transformed brewing scene in the UK

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags British beer festival Beer London

(L-R): David Smith, Coniston Brewery; Roger Protz, beer writer and member of the Champion Beer of Britain final judging panel
(L-R): David Smith, Coniston Brewery; Roger Protz, beer writer and member of the Champion Beer of Britain final judging panel
Coniston brewery’s No.9 Barley Wine has been named the Champion Beer of Britain 2012 by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) on the first day of its annual Great British Beer Festival being held at London Olympia this week.

No.9 Barley Wine, which has an ABV of 8.5 per cent, was described by the judges as ‘having fantastic finesse, reminiscent of a fine cognac.’ The real ale was judged the Supreme Champion over a host of other finalists in  seven different beer categories including beers from both small microbrewers and large regional brewers. 

“It’s great to see a rare beer style being championed,” said Camra’s chief executive Mike Benner. “Obviously it’s a fairly strong beer, therefore it is a great opportunity for pubs to try third pint glassware so consumers can enjoy this wonderful ale in moderation.”

Roger Protz, of the final judging panel, spoke in praise of the winner, adding: “The judges in the final tasting were overjoyed by the tremendous quality of the beers this year. There wasn’t a poor beer in the competition, and they were all of the highest quality. It was a tough choice, and the final results were very close.”

David Smith of Coniston brewery, said: “We were delighted to win the competition in 1998 with Bluebird, and we are delighted to win again! We’ve always been at the top and we’re glad to regain the recognition we deserve. It’s an all-British beer using solely British ingredients, very fitting for this Diamond Jubilee year.”

‘London has gone brewing crazy’

Meanwhile, figures released on the opening day of the Great British Beer Festival show that 30 breweries are now operational across the capital - 24 of which never existed the last time the Great British Beer Festival was held at the Olympia Exhibition Centre back in 2005.

Since last year’s Great British Beer Festival alone, 14 new breweries have started life, and with the London Brewers’ Alliance reporting a further 14 currently in the process of setting up, London’s brewing industry has undergone a total revival since its nadir in 2006 when only 7 commercial brewers were on stream.

“It’s a remarkable turnaround for London’s brewing fortunes, particularly at a time when research shows 3 pubs a week close across the capital,” said Camra’s Benner. “Brewers from Bethnal Green to Battersea are successfully targeting a new breed of discerning beer consumer, tapping into the principles of localism and environmental awareness and winning new audiences for Britain’s national drink.

“As seen at the Great British Beer Festival this week, this resurging interest in real ale can offer hope to the pub industry, especially when London’s brewing business goes from strength to strength.”

Steve Williams, secretary of the London Brewers’ Alliance, added: “Although London was behind the curve of the current British microbrewing renaissance; we have really caught up in 2011 and 2012 and are now proud to be at the cutting edge of the beer scene. 

“We have new breweries and brewpubs opening every month and we can also now reasonably claim to be the brewpub capital of Europe.”

Since the first week of July, Camra’s London branches have been co-ordinating a campaign – London City of Beer - to raise the profile of beer and pubs in the capital, and celebrate the industry’s rich history. For more information visit​.

Other winners at Camra’s Great British Beer Festival: -

Overall winners

  • Gold- Coniston, No.9 Barley Wine (from Coniston, Cumbria)
  • Silver- Green Jack, Trawlerboys Best Bitter (from Lowestoft, Suffolk)
  • Bronze- Dark Star, American Pale Ale (from Horsham, West Sussex)

Mild category

  • Gold- Rudgate, Ruby Mild (from York, North Yorkshire)
  • Silver- Hobsons, Hobsons Mild (from Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire)
  • Bronze- Son of Sid, Muckcart Mild (from Little Gransden, Bedfordshire)


  • Gold- Purple Moose, Snowdonia Ale (from Porthmadog, Gwynedd)
  • Silver- Tintagel, Castle Gold (from Tintagel, Cornwall)
  • Joint Bronze- Flowerpots, Bitter (from Cheriton, Hampshire)
  • Joint Bronze- Fuller’s, Gale’s Seafarers Ale (from London, W4)
  • Joint Bronze- Salopian, Shropshire Gold (from Shrewsbury, Shropshire)

Best Bitters

  • Gold- Green Jack, Trawlerboys Best Bitter (from Lowestoft, Suffolk)
  • Silver, Salopian, Hop Twister (from Shrewsbury, Shropshire)
  • Joint Bronze- Oakwell, Senior Bitter (from Barnsley, South Yorkshire)
  • Joint Bronze- Milton, Pegasus (from Milton, Cambridgeshire)

Golden Ales

  • Gold- Dark Star, American Pale Ale (from Horsham, West Sussex)
  • Silver- Cumbrian Legendary Ales, Langdale (from Hawkshead, Cumbria)
  • Bronze- Hobsons, Town Crier (from Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire)

Strong Bitters

  • Gold- Dark Star, Festival (from Horsham, West Sussex)
  • Silver- O’Hanlon’s, Stormstay (from Whimple, Devon)
  • Bronze- Highland, Orkney IPA (from Swannay, Orkney)

Speciality Beers

  • Gold- Dunham Massey, Chocolate Cherry Mild (from Dunham Massey, Gtr Manchester)
  • Silver- Little Valley, Hebden’s Wheat (from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire)
  • Bronze- Nethergate, Umbel Magna (from Pentlow, Essex)

Champion Winter Beer of Britain (from category winners announced in January 2012)

  • Coniston, No.9 Barley Wine (from Coniston, Cumbria)
  • Hammerpot, Bottle Wreck Porter (from Poling, West Sussex)
  • Cairngorm, Black Gold (from Aviemore, Highlands)
  • Driftwood, Alfie’s Revenge (from St Agnes, Cornwall)

Champion Bottled Beer of Britain winners

  • Gold- Stewart, Embra (from Loanhead, Midlothian)
  • Silver- Great Gable, Yewbarrow (from Egremont, Cumbria)
  • Bronze- Molson Coors, Worthington’s White Shield (from Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire)

For more information on the Great British Beer Festival 2012, visit

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