ALE November/December 1996 No. 286

Top Beer Award Goes To Nethergate

Nethergate Bitter from the Nethergate Brewery, Clare, Suffolk, became the first-ever Champion Beer of East Anglia in a competition organised by CAMRA. All CAMRA members in East Anglia had been asked to vote for the best ales brewed in the region. The six beers which received most votes were blind-tasted by a panel of experts at the Norwich Beer Festival at the end of October. The results were as follows:
  1. Nethergate Bitter (Clare, Suffolk)
  2. Adnams Bitter (Southwold, Suffolk)
  3. Mauldons Blackadder (Sudbury, Suffolk)
  4. Woodfordes Wherry (Woodbastwick, Norfolk)
  5. Tolly Cobbold Mild (Ipswich, Suffolk)
  6. Adnams Broadside (Southwold, Suffolk)
CAMRA's Regional Director, Paul Ainsworth, said "The panel had a difficult, if enjoyable, task as all the beers were excellent and also quite different from one another. The panel agreed that Nethergate Bitter achieved a superb balance of malt, hops and bitterness - it really is a stupendous beer."

There are 32 breweries in the region producing over 80 real ales between them at any one time. Although Suffolk has 11 of these breweries it is still a fine achievement for the county to be home to five of the six finalists.

Nethergate was founded in 1986 and has one tied house (The Cambridge Blue) and around 220 free trade accounts. It uses entirely traditional brewing methods and no additives, unless you count the coriander (actually a traditional ingredient of beer) in its Umbel and Umbel Magna ales. Nethergate is now distributed nationally through a network of reputable beer agencies.

The excellence of Nethergate's achievement can be judged against the fact that four out of the last six national Champion Beers of Britain have come from East Anglia. These are judged by a similar procedure at the Great British Beer Festival at the beginning of August, when the panel included cricketer Devon Malcolm and T.V.'s renowned beerhunter, Michael Jackson. In case you missed it, the Champion Beer of Britain 1996 is Woodforde's Wherry, which came top of the Ordinary Bitter category, and then beat the other category winners to be Champion

Other category winners were: Tomlinson Hermitage (Mild), Butterknowle Banner (Best Bitter), Cheriton Diggers Gold (Strong Bitter), Marston's Oyster Stout (Bottle-Conditioned), Harviestoun Schiehallion (Speciality Beer). Other categories (Porter, Stout, Old Ale etc.) will be judged at a separate Winter Ale Festival.


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