Tappers Untapped of the Pivovar Group have become the first ever winners of Imbibe Live’s Tapsters competition after a tough final which came down to the wire on Centre Stage.
The northern team are off to Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall after winning ‘by a whisker’ in a round of quick-fire questions. A gruelling first five rounds saw them neck-and-neck with The Stable Cider Masters from The Stable Group – with both teams finishing Round Five on 156 points.
The competition, presented by beer sommelier and Imbibe Educator of the Year Annabel Smith and judged by giants of the beer and cider industry – Ed Hughes of Sharp’s Brewery, Gabe Cook aka The Ciderologist and Beer Writer of the Year Pete Brown – was born to discover the best beer and cider team around.
‘We’re really pleased. The guys and I work in all different areas of the business so being able to bring that knowledge together and impart that today has been great fun,’ said Sam Wheatley, captain of the winning team.
The semi-final, held at sponsor The Beer & Cider Academy, had seen finalists show their skills by winning a number of testing tasks following a day of high-end beer and cider training.
Tappers Untapped inched ahead in the first round – fault identification. Four different faults were presented to the teams to discern, with the audience given a chance to try their hand (nose, tastebuds… ) at picking out common faults such as hydrogen sulphide and acetic acid. It’s safe to say this was the least pleasant act of audience participation.
For Round 2 – beer and food matching – teams deftly picked out pairings for audience members picked to give their favourite dishes. While the judging panel deliberated on their scores, the crowd held up green and red cards; Ready, Steady, Cook! style to determine their favourites, awarding ten points to each winning team.
The Stable Cider Masters, on the red team, made up ground in the blind tasting round, where captains donned a fetching eye-mask as they were asked to identify beer and cider styles.
And Round Four saw one member of each team get into the infamous Imbibe Live paddling pool to show off their flair in a Spanish cider pour, with the Cider Masters’ Laura-Kate Thomas opting for a challenging over-the-shoulder variation.
After a whole lot of tough questions in a University Challenge-style round, a quick-fire round saw Tappers Untapped’s encyclopaedic beer knowledge bringing home the win.
‘It shows how much knowledge of beer and cider there is to be had. Looking at the teams and how much they’ve enjoyed doing this, greater knowledge means greater enjoyment and greater fun,’ said Brown, before announcing the winner.
‘The Cider Masters showed wonderful creativity, innovation and flair through everything that they did, and given their main focus is cider they’ve come up admirably on the beer side. Tappers, well they know their beer scarily well!’
To add to their prize, Tappers took home £500 cash. On their trip to Sharp’s Brewery, they’ll also take a speedboat trip over the Doom Bar, the namesake of the brewery’s most famous beer, and be treated to beer matching dinner hosted by Hughes in The Mariners, the pub Sharp’s own with Nathan Outlaw.
‘As Pete Brown said, it’s people working in pubs, bars and restaurants who have a massive level of skill and a wealth of knowledge,’ said Chris Brown of sponsor ALMR.
‘There are some very talented people working in the sector so we’re really pleased that we can do something to highlight that. It’s great that for the first year it was so close as well. I think that’s because there’s a large field of expertise out there.’
Of course, Imbibe has always known that – but this new competition shows just how far the beer and cider industries have come. We can’t wait for Tapsters 2018.