Good to see Saltaire’s Triple Chocoholic winning SIBA’s Supreme Champion 2010 (report by Pete Brown on the conference here). I was on the judging panel that featured this luscious and luxurious chocolate stout and we put it through as the top beer, obviously not having a clue where it came from, but it was just magnificent. Later on talking to those on the top judging table it was clear that this beer, brewed with love from Shipley, was in the running for the big prize, so I was pleased and not very surprised to see the result. It’s a confection of chocolate malt, real chocolate and chocolate syrups but despite all this chocolate it’s not a sweet beer, being more like a hot chocolate with a creamy, soothing mouthfeel while a judicious hop bitterness keeping everything from toppling over into a tooth-jangling nightmare. Thinking about it now brings me to think about the whole speciality beers category (once again); I think it’s such a woolly and nebulous concept that thankfully has improved over the years — after all it wasn’t that long ago that Schehallion kept winning the speciality beer category at CAMRA’s annual beer beano (hold on a minute a quick glance at the championship speciality beers of 2009 in the Good Beer Guide reveals the name of Dent’s Rambrau, a ‘cask conditioned lager’). I mean, a lagered beer, when was that a speciality? Anyway, this is a great beer and I speak as someone who usually shies away from chocolate, whether in the glass or a silver wrapper.