Yorkshire will take on London and the south-west in the Imbibe Live finals of The IPA Challenge, run in partnership with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), M&B, There’s A Beer for That, and Fuller’s.
Five finalists emerged from a tough first round held at Fuller’s Centre of Excellence, with Roosters and North Brewing Co representing the north, Butcombe the south-west, and Wimbledon Brewing and Crate Brewery from opposite sides of London.
'As well as partnering with Imbibe Live again this year for the beer competition, we will for the first time also be hosting our own SIBA beer bar within The Pub area of the event, where we will be serving all of the competition entrants from SIBA members,' Neil Walker, SIBA PR & marketing manager, said. 'The quality was amazingly high this year and we think it will be a great opportunity for people to taste this exciting range of IPAs.'
'The IPA sector is continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate,’ chair of judges, Mark Dorber of The Anchor at Walberswick, added. 'As drinkers react against what is bland, this is a family of beers capturing a lot of interest with their potential to combine incredible drinkability alongside the relentless hopping that we love.'
'The session IPAs really shone,' said Walker. 'There were plenty with huge drinkability, something always important to beer drinkers.'
This was reflected in the finalists’ line-up, with the Below 5% category scooping two out of five places.
While there was ambition and vision among the Above 5% New World-style entrants, the balance and depth of the Above 5% English-style IPAs ultimately proved more successful, securing them two spots in the final, compared with one for their New World brethren.
So, who will win? The audience will decide in the Beer & Cider Hub on 3 July. The Craft Beer Channel’s Jonny Garrett will act as MC, with the winner securing a seasonal listing at a selection of M&B’s leading pubs.
'This competition illustrates how this sector is full of energy and imagination,’ said Dorber. ‘IPAs have a great past and a great future.'