Beer and cider made their mark at this year’s Imbibe Live with a heady mix of new faces, legendary brewers and cidermakers, and pioneering distributors. While contestants battled it out centre-stage to win The Tapsters crown and be named the best beer & cider team in the land, the number of beer and cider exhibitors grew by around 50%.
On the hop and barley side, a trio of North Carolina’s top breweries set out their stall, Fuller’s paid a return trip, and Harvey’s shared its iconic beers to good effect.
New names such as Nirvana brewery landed at the Hop & Apple Bar, alongside the welcome return of favourites such as Tiny Rebel, fresh from the opening of its new multi-million pound brewery.
Indeed, such was the pressure of space, the organisers also opened The Pub, where breweries such as Wild Card, Hobsons and Edinburgh Beer Factory made their Imbibe Live debuts alongside SIBA, who ran a busy bar, playing host to entrants into this year’s beer competition, The IPA Challenge.
Here are a few of the team’s favourite tastes, ranging from a low abv Krombacher through to Peroni’s stylish ‘aperitif’, Ambra, on the beer side. Check out the next issue for more reports, and rest assured, we’ll keep you posted on newbies just as soon as they get their first distribution contracts.
Susanna Forbes, beer & cider editor
Krombacher, Low Alcohol Pils
Using a clever mix of fermentation techniques – half the beer has had its fermentation stopped, while the other half has had the alcohol removed using reverse osmosis – the result is a full-flavoured pils, with discernible malt base, a balanced flavour and some texture. (SF)
360°, Session IPA
With pine and citrus notes alongside grapefruit zest, the Mosaic hops make their point with style. A good looking range of cans, this is the revamp that won SIBA’s national Concept Design Award in 2016. Also available in cask and keg. (SF)
4.3%, 01825 722375, 360degreebrewing.com
Harvey’s, Wharf IPA
The latest product from the Harvey’s stable, this is delightfully balanced for an IPA, with the hops kept in check by a decent malt body. Lemon peel and pith, freshly baked wholemeal bread, cardamom and marmalade combine in a creamy body, with the lemon zest continuing on the long, refreshing finish. (LF)
4.8% abv, 01273 480 209, harveys.org.uk
Bedlam, Pale Ale
With a clever hop blend, head brewer Fabio Israel, formerly London Fields Brewery combines the subtlety of cool climate, Herefordshire-grown Cascade with the zestiness of three US hops for an elegant, floral flavour. A suitably stylish beer from the brewery run by the owners of The Bull at Ditchling, the Great British Pub of the Year in 2016. (SF)
4.8%, 01273 978015, bedlambrewery.co.uk
Paolozzi, Lager Re-Born
Stylishly packaged as you might expect from a brewery inspired by fellow Edinburgh alumni and pop-art pioneer Eduardo Paolozzi, this has the flavour to back up the looks. Good malt sweetness acts as suitable backbone, leaving Rich Tea notes on the finish, and offering good food matching potential. (SF)
5.2%, 0131 442 4562, edinburghbeerfactory.co.uk
Not quite a beer, Peroni is billing this hybrid product as an ‘aperitif’. Taking their Nastro Azurro and cutting it with chinotto, it’s a delicious, quaffable drink, where the chinotto tempers the bitterness of the lager, resulting in an incredibly refreshing summer lager alternative. Peroni recommends serving it in a small tumbler over ice with an orange peel garnish. Hurry though – it’s a limited-edition summer-time product, and only available until October. (LF)
6% abv, thehouseofperoni.com