Dudley and South Staffordshire

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Sarah Hughes' Snowflake wins GBBFW award

Sunday 18 February 2024

A branch brewery has seen one of its beers crowned the Champion Winter Beer of Britain. Snowflake from the Sarah Hughes Brewery at the Beacon Hotel in Sedgley came out on top in blind judging at the Great British Beer Festival Winter festival at Burton upon Trent Town Hall.

The eight per cent ale, which is produced ready for Christmas each year, took the title ahead of last year's winner Elland Brewry's 1872 Porter.

The joint silver went to Magnum Mild from Muirhouse Brewery. Snowflake was also the beer of the festival at Dudley Winter Ales Fayre at Dudley Town Hall in November where it was the first beer to sell out.

Snowflake, which was originally launched in 1999, at eight per cent is the strongest beer that Sarah Hughes produces. I Simon Massey, director of Sarah Hughes Brewery and the Beacon Hotel, who received the award from CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona, said: “This is fantastic news. Quality is what we strive for, and it is all down to the brilliant team who work in the brewery and the pub.

This batch of Snowflake was brewed in September and sold out in two weeks over the Christmas period. We always put it out at the start of the Dudley Winter Ales Fayre, where it sold out there too. “I am very proud for my head brewer Ricky Follos. This is a massive achievement, and he should be very chuffed. The hard work really has paid off.

“The brewery closed in the mid '50s, but my uncle, John Hughes, reinstated the brewery in 1987. He had a vision of what it could be, and I hope this award makes Sarah Hughes Brewery and the Beacons Hotel pub a must-visit destination in the Back Country.”

In response to the struggles facing the pub and brewing trade, Simon said: “It is going to be another tough year for the industry. My overhead costs have doubled.”

Camra’s awards director Laura Emson said: “Congratulations to Sarah Hughes Brewery on their well-deserved win, Snowflake is an incredible example of a barley wine. Each year, judging this competition gets harder and harder as the quality beer produced by UK brewers continues to astound us. “This year’s runner up and last year’s CWBOB winner, Elland Brewery’s 1872 Porter, went on to clinch the celebrated Champion Beer of Britain 2023 award as well.

It was deeply upsetting to hear that this multi-award-winning brewery is now facing liquidation, just six months after claiming CAMRA’s top prize. The pub, brewing and cider making industries are in turmoil and unless government offers meaningful support to the sector in the upcoming Spring Budget, the UK risks losing many more of its talented brewers.

“I want to thank the hardworking volunteers and judges who have made the festival and the Champion Winter Beer of Britain possible. Congratulations once again to Sarah Hughes brewery and all our fantastic category winners. I wish them all the best of luck in the overall Champion Beer of Britain 2024 competition.”

This year’s gold and joint silver award winners will be available at the Great British Beer Festival Winter this week while stocks last.

The category winners from the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition, including Snowflake, will be entered into the overall Champion Beer of Britain competition later this year.

An edited piece of this featured within The Express & Star.