For the first time in history, a Czech is to sit on a panel of experts at the biggest British Beer festival
As early as tomorrow, the 31st biggest British beer festival “Great British Beer Festival” (GBBF) is to begin, which will host the competition for the “Champion Beer of Britain” award. For the first time in its history of the competition, a Czech brewer is to become a member of the panel of experts. His name is Josef Tolar and he is Budweiser Budvar’s maltster and brewing and technical director. The festival, which was visited by more than 65,000 people last year, will take place from the 5th to the 9th August in the Earls Court, exhibition centre in London. The festival is organized by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), the largest British consumer organization associating more than 90,000 members.
The competition for the “Champion Beer of Britain” award consists of two rounds. First, 33 experts evaluate 73 types of beer in 6 categories (Bitter, Best Bitter, Dark & Light Mild, Golden Ale, Speciality Ale and Strong Bitter). Mr Tolar is to sit on the final panel of experts, which will re-judge the 6 winners of the abovementioned categories together with the “Station Porter” beer produced by Wickwar Brewery, which – as the winner of this year’s “Winter Beer of Britain” competition – automatically qualified for the finals. There will be six members in total in the final tasting panel; the panel is to determine the “Champion Beer of Britain” on the basis of several tastings.
“We are pleased to have Mr Tolar on the panel of experts which judges the competition for the “Champion Beer of Britain” award. CAMRA has always thought highly of Budweiser Budvar and its tradition of brewing beer. We consider it fortunate that the experience of a Budweiser Budvar’s brewer will help us search for our supreme champion of beers,” says Tony Jerome, Senior Press Manager of CAMRA.
The panel at the British festival will enable the Budweiser Budvar’s brewer to apply his extensive experience in the field of the brewing industry. Truly, it is his many years of practice together with vast experience and excellent international reputation of the Budweiser Budvar Lager that won Mr Tolar a place on the panel of experts at this important competition. The Budweiser Budvar Lager is one of the most popular imported beer brands in Great Britain, while the Budvar stand at CBBF is one of the most visited places at the festival.
“I am honoured to become the first representative of the Czech Republic ever on the panel of experts at the biggest British beer festival. The competition for the ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ award enjoys a tradition of many years’ standing and is very popular. All British breweries consider winning the award a considerable success and is a highly regarded triumph,” says Josef Tolar.
The selection of beer candidates for the “Champion Beer of Britain” award is specific and fairly complicated. There are three ways to get to the final tasting. The first consists in the selection of beer on the basis of decisions of tasting panels. 30 tasting panels in total from various regions of Great Britain judge a broad range of beers, and recommend six of them to proceed into six regional rounds. Another possibility to be shortlisted for the “Champion Beer of Britain” award is to win in one of the 150 other yearly beer festivals organized by CAMRA. Finally, the last chance is an opinion poll conducted by CAMRA members, which can choose its candidate in the internal magazine “What’s Brewing”. The champion of all beers is then determined by the panel of experts with Josef Tolar as its member.
Visitors to the „Great British Beer Festival“ will be able to taste at least 450 types of beer produced by 280 breweries. Beside tasting beer, visitors will be occupied by a varied programme, including tutored beer tastings, traditional pub games, live music, competitions, and international cuisine tastings. For more information on the festival, please go to http://www.camra.org.uk .
Josef Tolar’s biography
Current position: brewing and technical director (maltster)
Budweiser Budvar National Corpoation
Karoliny Světlé 4, 370 21 České Budějovice
Josef Tolar graduated from the Faculty of Food Technology at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague in 1965. His professional career began immediately after that when he became head of the laboratory in the Budweiser Budvar brewery, to which all his life seems to be linked from then on. In the 1970’s, Mr Tolar became a member of the team developing Pito – the first non-alcoholic beer in the then Czechoslovakia. After acquiring experience and practical training experience in various positions in the brewery production subdivision, Mr Tolar became maltster in 1985 and then, in 1992, brewing and technical director of Budweiser Budvar. In this position, he was in charge of the reconstruction and extension of the brewery’s production capacity, namely from 450,000 hectolitres to 1.35 million hectolitres a year. Since 1998, Mr Tolar has been a member of the Board of the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague. In December 2002, the British Guild of Beer Writers awarded Mr Tolar with a Silver Tankard, a prize for his unique contribution to the European brewery industry.