O-Garden, a clear wheat beer spiced with roasted orange peel, coriander and cloves, crafted by the Otley Brewing Company in Pontypridd, has been named among the best-tasting food and drink products in Britain.
Named Champion Beer of Wales at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival in 2010, the 4.8% beer was chosen from 123 entries awarded a coveted three-star gold from 8,807 products judged in the 2012 Great Taste scheme run by the Guild of Fine Food.
Ranging from beers to brownies, saffron to smoked rack of bacon and mincemeat to marmalade, many reflect the return to more traditional foods but given a modern twist.
Judges this year included Masterchef winner and restaurateur Mat Follas, restaurant critic and Masterchef judge, Charles Campion, food writers Lucas Hollweg and Xanthe Clay and over 300 food buyers from leading food halls, delicatessens and farm shops including Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
According to Guild of Fine Food chairman, Bob Farrand, each of these food and drink products was rigorously scrutinised. He said: “To achieve a 3-star grading involves at least 25 experts unanimously agreeing that the product tastes divine.
“But to be included in the Top 50 Foods in Britain meant each one had to satisfy the discerning palates of a further 25 dedicated foodies. These products all deliver the most extraordinary taste.”
Nick Otley, managing director of the Otley Brewing Company, said: “To reach the top 50 Great Taste List is brilliant news and a real testament to the quality of our beers.
“O-Garden has always been a firm favourite in our portfolio since it was first brewed in 2009. Since then it’s received critical acclaim from top beer judges such as Melissa Cole who described it as exciting, refreshing and complex.
“We have only been brewing since 2005 and the company has grown so much since then. It’s an exciting time for the craft beer industry right now and many people are seeking out new flavours and fusions. We’re always thinking of new ways with beer by cooking with it and matching beers to different foods.
“To be part of Great Taste is a fantastic industry stamp of recognition and we’re pleased to have been ranked alongside some other top Welsh and UK food and drink products.”
Above: Nick Otley inspects his bottled beers
Great Taste is the biggest independent benchmarking scheme for local, regional and speciality foods in Britain. Over 350 professional foodies are brought together each year to take part in 45 days of judging, deciding which foods deserve one-star, two-star or the ultimate three-star awards.
The scheme has become known for launching little-known artisan producers into the big time of the fine food world, while occasionally discovering the odd mainstream surprise. Speciality foods in this year’s Top 50 also include a North African Berber cake made in Gloucestershire, a pear juice from a college in Warwickshire, a sourdough miches from Cumbria, a corned pork from Northern Ireland and a Lithuanian Scalded Rye Bread from Essex.
The annual programme culminates with the ‘Golden Fork’ Awards in London in September and the naming of the Great Taste Supreme Champion, a title won last year by a corned beef from traditional Northern Ireland butcher, McCartney’s of Moira which has been nominated again in 2012.