CAMRA Scotland and Northern Ireland Branches Procedures for Champion Beer of Britain (CBOB) and Champion Beer of Scotland (CBOS)

How are beers selected for CBOB and CBOS?

Each year CAMRA Brewery Liaison Officers (BLOs) are asked to ensure that the details for the beers listed for their brewery on CAMRA’s Brewery Information System (BIS) are accurate.

For each CAMRA Region (ours is Scotland & Northern Ireland), BIS then produces a list of eligible beers for each of the CBOB categories. To be eligible a beer must meet the following criteria

  • The brewery must be in full production

  • The beer should be available for 7 or more months of the year (Bitter, Best Bitter, Strong Bitter, Golden Ale), be available for 3 or months of the year (Mild, Speciality) or be one of the beer categories associated with the winter season (Old Ales, Strong Mild, Barley Wine, Strong Old Ale, Porter, Stout).

  • Their alcohol by volume (ABV) and character must conform to CAMRA’s style guidelines.

  • All bottle conditioned beers (RAIB) are eligible.

In September/October CAMRA branch members (via on-line voting at and CAMRA tasting panels are asked to nominate beers. Once on-line voting is complete BIS produces an order of merit for each CBOB category. These are then combined with tasting panel recommendations to produce a short-list of beers for each category, usually 6 or 7 beers per category.

The short-listed beers are assessed by judging panels, using defined judging criteria, at CAMRA Scottish beer festivals during the following year. These panels comprise CAMRA members (including at least 1 trained taster), brewers, publicans, local dignitaries, politicians, etc.


The winner of each cask category heat progresses to the CBOS final held at the Scottish Real Ale Festival (SRAF) in Edinburgh in July of the following year.

The winner of each category heat may be styled CAMRA Champion XXX of Scotland YYYY, where XXX is the category and YYYY is the year in which the heat took place. Breweries may use this terminology in all marketing material, publicity, etc.

The winner of the CBOS final may be styled CAMRA Champion Beer of Scotland ZZZZ, where ZZZZ is the year in which the final took place. Again, the winning brewery may use this terminology in all marketing material, publicity, etc.

So, let us look at the example of Loch Lomond Silkie Stout. In September/October 2015 on-line voting and tasting panel nominations took place. Silkie Stout qualified via members’ on-line voting and was short-listed in the Stout category. Category heats took place at festivals in 2016. Silkie Stout won the Stout heat and so the brewery could style the beer CAMRA Champion Stout of Scotland 2016. Heat winners progressed to be considered for CBOS 2017, held at SRAF in July. Silkie Stout was judged the winner and so was Champion Beer of Scotland 2017.


The winners, and some runners-up, of each category heat progress to the CBOB category finals held at one of 3 national festivals in the following year. For those categories associated with the winter season (Old Ales, Strong Mild, Barley Wine, Strong Old Ale, Porter, Stout) this is at Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) Winter (formerly National Winter Ales Festival, currently held in Burton on Trent), for RAIBs at the BBC Good Food Show (Birmingham SEC) and for the other categories at GBBF (Olympia, London).

At these category finals, a champion for each category is judged. The champions of the cask categories then progress to overall semi-finals and a final held at GGBF Olympia, irrespective of where the category final was held.

Why did a beer which won a Scottish Category Heat or even CBOS not feature at GBBF Olympia?

If it is a beer from a category whose final is held at GBBF Winter then it will feature at that festival. It will only feature at GBBF Olympia if it wins its category final. It would progress to the overall semi- final along with the winners of the other category finals.

We also assume that if a beer is being judged at GBBF Olympia, as part of the CBOB process, then it will be available to the public attending the festival. That may or may not be the case.

Northern Irish Beers

These are included in the eligible voting lists at the members, on-line voting stage. However, very few ever get enough votes to be short-listed for the heats. Those that do are usually RAIB.

Should a Northern Irish beer ever win a heat then, of course, its winning title will be changed to Champion XXX of Northern Ireland YYYY.

Lindsay Grant
CBOS/CBOB Coordinator Scotland & Northern Ireland
August 2017

CBOB Heats 2024

Competition VenueBeer Style
Larbert Real Ale & Cider Festival 
Paisley Beer Tent 
Glasgow Real Ale Festival 
Ayrshire Real Ale Festival 
Alloa Real Ale & Cider Festival 
Branches that do not host a festival