Summer Dream, an elderflower-infused, hoppy ale from Lowestoft trounced a proudly Cornish lager, a fruit saison from Wales, a sassy American Pale Ale from a three-month-old Brighton craft beer house, and the deftly-made and named Sour To The People from London to win the inaugural Imbibe Live Beer Competition.
Challenged to create a beer for summer, the hotly contested final was compered by Thinking Drinkers’ Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham in the Brewers’ Den. Five brewers pitched for the audience vote, not just with their beers but, this being Imbibe Live, with the stories behind them and their branding.
Presentations were lively. Before brandishing their coloured cards, Ready Steady Cook-style, to pick the winner, the crowd had been encouraged to ‘be more bison’ by the Brighton-based Bison Beer crew, and enlightened on how the life cycle of a fruit fly compared with that of a fruit beer, by Tom Newman of The Celt Experience, for example.
The audience, a heady mix of on-traders, beer experts and brewers, seemed torn between the reds, Summer Dream from Green Jack Brewery (4%) and the oranges, the tangy Goddess of the Spring from Celt Experience (6%). After a final headcount, it was the reds that triumphed.
‘It’s great – I am well chuffed!’ said Tim Dunford after his win had sunk in. ‘I first made elderflower fizz when I was 12 years old. Every year is different though [for the elderflowers].’
Alongside a trip for two to the Budweiser Budvar brewery in the Czech Republic, Dunford has won a seasonal listing with The Draft House. Ever diligent, his team were already back out foraging – it takes two days to gather enough elderflowers for one brew.
‘All the beers were worthy finalists,’ said David Cunningham, sponsor and programme director of pan-industry campaign, There’s A Beer for that? ‘But with a unique combination of a classic taste of a British summer and refreshment, I think Green Jack`s Summer Dream was the worthy winner.’ While fellow sponsor, Tony Jerome, comms and membership director for SIBA, felt Summer Dream ‘had the edge’, he called the decision ‘a tough choice’.
With the original judging taking place the previous week at the Fuller's Centre of Excellence, the other three in the final included See Side APA (5%) from Bison Beer Craft House, Swifties, Cornish Craft Lager (4%) from Keltek Cornish Brewery, and Sour To The People (4.8%) from By The Horns Brewery.
‘The finalists were all fabulous,’ said chair of judges, Mark Dorber, owner of The Anchor at Walberswick and Imbibe Live Beer & Cider Ambassador. ‘Summer Dream is a revelation,’ said The Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh. ‘Everything a summer beer should be: frothy, refreshing and utterly delicious.’ ‘I’d like many, many pints,’ said Dorber. And why not!
We’ll let you know when Summer Dream hits McVeigh’s bars.