Crafty Zealots beat off a strong challenge from the New World MoB to clinch The Tapsters 2018 title on the second day of Imbibe Live.
With five close rounds, it was the food matching and beer and cider tips from Crafty Zealots allied with the quick wits of the team’s Jordan Childs during the final round quiz that clinched the prize – a trip to Cork with Franciscan Well Brewery – for the Brewhouse & Kitchen team.
Mary Topp, The Cider House at Borough Market, joined beer sommelier Ed Hughes, Sharps Brewery, and chair of judges, beer writer Pete Brown, to form this year’s expert panel, with mistress of ceremonies Annabel Smith and cider educator Gabe Smith in adjudication mode.
Captain – Oli Kutylowski, B&K Portsmouth
Jordon Childs, B&K Lichfield
Ivalina Pesheva, B&K Southbourne
Jake Salter, B&K Cheltenham
New World MoB
Captain – Will Kavanagh, The Botanist Chester
Harry Lee Mellor, The Botanist Media City
Christopher Lewtas, Smugglers Cove Liverpool
Royale Evans, The Botanist Chester
New World MoB edged into a one-point lead at the end of Round 1 with their explanation for the causes of iso-valeric acid, that cheesy note produced by bacterial spoilage, following both teams’ correct identification of four beer and cider faults, kindly supplied by FlavorActiv.
However Crafty Zealots turned the tables in Round 2 as the teams’ responses to real-life scenarios were judged by both audience and expert panel. Crafty Zealots won both audience and judges’ vote for the first two scenarios, suggesting Jaipur as the best match for chicken sag, and a perry for a mozzarella, tomato and basil salad.
Next up, beer and cider suggestions for those who don’t normally drink them. Alternatives for a Margarita split the audience down the middle as to whether a New World MoB’s Siren Calypso or the host of choices proposed by Childs would win the drinker over. New World MoB valiantly pulled itself back into the running by winning the final scenario with the inspired suggestion of Wild Beer Co’s Dr Todd for a Whisky Sour lover. This is a strong citrus sour, brewed with ginger and aged in Islay whisky barrels with British Black Bee honey, finished with more ginger and lemon zest.
At the end of Round 2, Crafty Zealots had taken a commanding 17-point lead, scoring 80 vs 62 for the round, taking the scores to 111 vs 94.
Round 3, identifying beer and cider styles, was even stevens, with both teams correctly calling two out of the four styles judged blind.
New World MoB’s Stella Royale Evans reduced the deficit by narrowly winning the judges’ vote for her Cider Throwing, taking the scores to 154 to 139 at the end of Round 4.
University Beer/Cider Challenge
But it was to no avail. The first part of University Beer/Cider Challenge saw Crafty Zealots reassert their authority with a clean sweep of correct answers. The final quick fire round decided the match as, covering everything from purity laws to sorbitol, ice ciders to artificial yeast, Crafty Zealots got four correct answers against New World MoB’s two.
The final scores saw Crafty Zealots win with 204 against New World MoB’s 172
Prior to announcing the winners, chair of judges Pete Brown said: ‘People who say that they don’t need to train bar staff just need to look at this competition. What you get is an incredible level of knowledge. If these two teams can do it, any bar or pub operation can instil this level of passion in their staff. If you’re getting served by any of these guys on stage here today, you’re going to get a premium experience.’
A delighted Childs said: ‘We were so pleased to even get through to the final as the competition was so fierce! So to win was just absolutely amazing! To say we were thrilled to win is an understatement! From start to finish it has been a fantastic experience for us.’
Kate Nicholls, CEO of sponsor UK Hospitality, congratulated the Brewhouse & Kitchen team on their win. ‘The Tapsters is a brilliant example of the positive results of training and investment in staff. If businesses are ready and willing to invest in smart, hungry team members, they will breed expertise and passion.’
Cook said: ‘Both teams acquitted themselves really well, especially with the pouring of the sidra natural in the paddling pools. I spoke to Simon Bunn [CEO, Brewhouse & Kitchen] after. To have that understanding and investment from the top level that the knowledge and the understanding of stylisation, sensory analyis, storing and cellaring is important, will be key to getting the trade and the consumer interested in these drinks.’
‘This year’s Tapsters finalists were formidable!’ said Smith. ‘Their knowledge of beer and cider was phenomenal, and both teams are a credit not only to their own companies, but to the whole of the hospitality industry.’ Brown agreed. ‘Well done to both teams,’ he said. ‘You’ve demonstrated the way to save the beer and pub – and cider industry.’
The victors win a trip to Franciscan Well brewery in Cork, thanks to sponsor Brew+Press. The forerunner of the Irish craft beer scene, Franciscan Well’s founder, Shane Long, is both an inspiration and a mentor to many of Ireland’s brewers. Now part of Molson Coors, its flagship brand is Chieftain IPA, Ireland leading craft beer brand.