All of the medallists for the Beer and Cider Masters 2023
Bursts of flavour won out in this year’s blind tasting competition, with juicy beers and ciders from a host of tastemakers receiving medals, writes Jessica Mason.
Something that was particularly apparent during the Global Beer & Cider Masters 2023 – people are drawn towards flavour above all else. In what marked db’s 17th blind tasting competition of 2023, judges sampled approximately 36 beers and 12 ciders, ranging from imperial brown stout right through to zero-alcohol beers. However, the trends that shone most traversed styles, from a zesty hop-forward pale to an impeccable Trappist brew.
One big winner this year was Athletic Brewing, which won two Gold medals for its Upside Dawn and Run Wild beers, which impressed the judges by their level of flavour, especially considering that they were alcohol-free. From a retail perspective, Aldi secured an astounding 10 medals across its contract-brewed portfolio – most of which were flavoured and fruit beers such as its distinctive Watermelon Pale Ale and Rhum Finish Beer.
Hofmeister was awarded three medals, while Prime Time, a profit-share venture which donates funds to support the homeless, gained two medals for its lagers during this year’s tasting.
Thornbridge also fared well, winning a Gold medal for its Jaipur IPA, while Verdant also took home a Gold for its “hugely moreish” New England hazy pale ale Headband.
Our judges were struck by the drinkability of each of the offerings, noting that Harp lager from Saint James Gate was a lesson in how to achieve crispness and balance in a subtle brew. There were also a handful of more mainstream standouts, with Asahi’s Peroni showing hat can be achieved with a well-made beer, and gaining a Gold medal during the judging. But the star of the show was really Pressure Drop’s Pale Fire, a tropical, fullflavoured riff on a sessionable pale ale. Mount Saint Bernard Abbey’s Tynt Meadow Trappist Ale also hit the high notes with the judges and, even though it was more about fruit cake flavours and fullness, the judges were unanimous in describing it as a “simply outstanding beer”. An accolade that, just about, seemed to cover it.
Following on from last year’s plethora of new entrants and medal-winners, this year our judges witnessed the low and no alcohol category solidifying its reputation with four medals handed out for delicious beers that were uncompromising in terms of flavour, body and refreshment – no small challenge. Our team of tasters was clearly impressed by the progression seen in the category in just one year.
For the breweries that mixed things up, styles such as porters, stouts, wood cask and fruit-flavoured beers led the way ahead of some of the more confected and sweeter offerings. The judges felt that the true difference between those that won accolades and those that didn’t was evident in the depth of flavour, complexity and memorable nature of each product.
This year, four Gold and five Silver medals were granted in the lager category. Most interestingly, one Gold winner was a lower-calorie and caffeineinfused style, illustrating how far the brewing world has come in appealing to different lifestyle choices. Judges also applauded The Kernel for its imperial brown stout, which they said absolutely succeeded in turning a malt-forward beer into “an utter masterpiece.” >
Beer – Low & No
|Athletic Brewing Co||Upside Dawn||USA||Gold|
|Athletic Brewing Co||Run Wild||USA||Gold|
|Hofmeister Brewing Company||Hofmeister Ultra Low||Germany||Bronze|
|St Peter’s Brewery||Without® Original||UK||Bronze|
Lager – Light Lager
|Hofmeister Brewing Company||Hofmeister Helles||Germany||Silver|
|Jake’s Drinks at Balfour Winery||Jake’s Lager||UK||Silver|
Lager – International Lager
|Aldi||Rossini Gran Riserva||Italy||Gold|
|St James Gate||Harp||Ireland||Gold|
|Aldi||Indian Pale Lager||UK||Silver|
Lager – Lower Calorie Lager
|Prime Time||Prime Time Lager+ (caffeine-Infused)||UK||Gold|
|Prime Time||Prime Time Lager||UK||Silver|
Ale – Hop Forward
|Pressure Drop||Pale Fire||UK||Master|
|Jake’s Drinks at Balfour Winery||Jake’s IPA||UK||Gold|
|St Peter’s Brewery||Pale Ale||UK||Silver|
|Dark Star Brewing Co||Hophead Dark Star||UK||Silver|
|Meantime Brewery||Meantime Anytime IPA||UK||Silver|
Ale – Other
|Hofmeister Brewing Company Limited||Hofmeister Weisse||Germany||Gold|
|Aldi||Traditional Triple Beer||UK||Gold|
|Aldi||Vintage Dry Hopped Beer||UK||Bronze|
Ale – Malt Forward
|Mount Saint Bernard Abbey||Tynt Meadow English Trappist Ale||UK||Master|
|The Kernel Brewery||Imperial Brown Stout||UK||Gold|
|St Peter’s Brewery||Cream Stout||UK||Gold|
Beer – Flavoured & Fruit Beer
|Aldi (Williams Bros Brewing Co)||Rubus||UK||Gold|
|Aldi||Watermelon Pale Ale||UK||Silver|
|Aldi||Passionfruit Pale Ale||UK||Silver|
|Aldi||Golden Ale with Elderflower||UK||Silver|
|Aldi||Rhum Finish Beer||UK||Silver|
|St Peter’s Brewery||Plum Porter||UK||Bronze|
Now in its fourth year, the Global Cider Masters showcased a diverse range of products lined up for the judges to taste – and gave a whistlestop tour of the globe too.
In terms of what stole the show, the modern-style category won hands down with offerings from around the world gaining Master medals, from Canada and the UK to South Africa.
In terms of flavoured ciders, refreshing styles were preferred over anything overly sweet and fruit-infused, not an easy thing to achieve within this category. Here, two authentic fruited ciders in particular proved the category’s versatility, picking up two Gold medals. These were: Loxtonia Cider’s African Sundowner Baobab Flavoured Apple Cider, andMont-Rouge Strawberry & Basil Cider by Cidrerie Arista in Canada.
Cider – Traditional/West Country
|Westons Cider||Henry Westons Vintage Cloudy||UK||Gold|
|Westons Cider||Henry Westons Vintage||UK||Gold|
|Bristol Cider Company Limited||Bristol Cider – Steam||UK||Silver|
|Mistérios da Quinta Unipessoal||aRRebITa||Portugal||Silver|
Cider – Natural Sparkling
|Arba Wine||Adem Alma 2022||Kazakhstan||Master|
Cider – Modern Style
|Cidrerie Arista||Dublin’s Pub Authentic||Canada||Master|
|Jake’s Drinks at Balfour Winery||Jake’s Cider||UK||Master|
|Sxollie||Golden Delicious||South Africa||Master|
Cider – Speciality
|Mistérios da Quinta Unipessoal||aRReblTa||Portugal||Gold|
Cider – Flavoured
|Loxtonia Cider||African Sundowner Baobab Flavoured Apple Cider||South Africa||Gold|
|Cidrerie Arista||Mont-Rouge Strawberry & Basil||Canada||Gold|
Looking ahead to 2024, it seems likely that we’re going to see more flavourful global brands, as well as speciality and modern-style beers and ciders, not to mention an increase in natural sparkling and west country options that will become more available.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the rise of fine cider and independent premium beers that are low in ABV will continue, with products created to answer the demands increasingly made by consumers. Now that the categories are no longer in their infancy, the quality of offerings in the Global Beer and Cider Masters has, as we can see, already begun to rise.
About the competition
With high-quality judges and a unique sampling process, the Global Beer & Cider Masters provides a chance for your beers and ciders to shine. The 2023 competition was judged on 5 July at the Novotel in London Bridge, employing experienced judges. The top beers and ciders were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Global Beer or Cider Master.
This report features the medal winners only.
Please visit the Global Masters website for more information or to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please call: +44 (0) 20 7803 2420 or email Megan Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org