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As Al at Fuggled has noted, there was a kind of collective howl of annoyance on Twitter when the Champion Beer of Britain was announced at GBBF yesterday. A mild again!? Is this really the best beer in Britain!?
Although we understand where some of this irritation is coming from, we didn’t share the outrage.
First, this was a decision by committee, and that’s bound to knock anything really wacky out of the running and lead to a safe choice — a beer at low to mid-strength without gimmicks. Even if keg beers were in the running, a light helles or pale ale at c.4.2% might have won, but not an 8% Blackberry Wheat Stout.
Secondly, however, it is actually a great beer. Of all the milds we’ve tried, it is easily one of the most flavourful, full-bodied and consistent. Where others can taste like mud and feel like water in the mouth, Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, at 3.7%, has the coffee, chocolate and burnt grain flavours of a beer twice as big. We’ve spent whole evenings drinking nothing else.
Finally, this award doesn’t really mean that much.* What it probably does mean, however, is a significant boost in profile for a small brewery working hard to craft good beer. (Craft. See what we did?) It can’t be easy to make a 3.7% beer this good so let’s not begrudge them their well-deserved moment of glory.
And let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Even if you’re annoyed at CAMRA, that doesn’t mean some of the things CAMRA supports, such as mild and cask ale, aren’t good things.
Mild pictured is purely for illustrative purposes. Does not represent actual mild mentioned in text. Any similarity to any other mild, porter or stout, living or dead, is purely coincidental.