The International Beer Challenge awarded Kent’s Chapel Down vineyard a gold medal for its Curious Brew premium lager.
The world's largest breweries enter the annual beer maker’s “Oscars” and judges have the arduous task of tasting more than 400 beers.
The competition deemed only 30 beers, from countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the USA, to be of gold-medal standard. Curious Brew was one of only three international lagers awarded a golden award.
Chapel Down started brewing beer just two years ago and believes that its success comes down to bringing wine-making thinking to the beer brewing process.
The vineyard uses East Anglian malt, saaz and cascade hops. It then re-ferments the lager using the same Champagne yeast that also goes into its sparkling wines to create a 4.7% abv lager beer. The winemaker adds a “dosage” of very rare and fragrant Nelson Sauvin hops, before cold filtering the unpasteurised beer into bottles.
The whole process is overseen by Frazer Thompson, Chapel Down’s CEO. Thompson is known as a “beer man” in the industry having held senior posts at both Heineken and Whitbread.
“We’ve changed people’s minds about English wine and now we want to do the same when it comes to lager,” said Thompson. “Mass-produced lagers taste like corporate cardboard and have the aroma of market research rather than hops. We’ve worked really hard to craft something that is more fragrant and more refreshing than other beers when served cold. This is a lager for people who love beer. Sometimes only a crisp, cold lager will do the job of slaking a thirst.”
Curious Brew is currently served on draught at Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks restaurants and several Jamie’s Italians, The Swan at London’s Globe Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Gordon Ramsay restaurants, ETM’s The Gun, The RAC Club and Browns brasseries, as well as various independent pubs in the south-east.
As one of the local vineyards to food&drink towers, we're really happy that Chapel Down - and Kent producers in general - are starting to get the critical acclaim they deserve.