Imbibe's beer and cider editor Susanna Forbes headed down to the Independent Beer Awards, held at SIBA's annual BeerX event in Liverpool, to sniff out the best brews in the room. Here she shares her top picks from the night
Best for pubs & clubs
Wolf Brewery, Sirius Dog Star, 4.4% abv
Norfolk-based Wolf Brewery did the double, not only winning Champion Cask, but also Gold in the bottled category for its Sirius Dog Star. Not only decidedly drinkable, with joyful milk chocolate and milky coffee notes, but the umami factor is there too, making this burnished red ale very food friendly. They recommend meat pies, hot pots, liver & bacon to pair with their award-winning ale. I'd add anything with mushrooms, plus barbecued burgers.
Best for bars
Windsor & Eton, Uprising Treason, 4.4%
A West Coast IPA from Uprising Brewery, with orange on the nose, plus ripe apricots and peaches. The palate is surprisingly assertive – more orange peel and zest, mango and papaya skin. Crying out for beautiful cheeses, tapas-style Spanish dishes Indian or Asian, lightly spiced recipes. It’s one of those guilty secrets – I don't like to admit to enjoying such flamboyant flavours, but I can’t resist them. Either serve hazy in the glass, or leave for 24 hours to settle.
Best for kicking back
Stewart Brewing, Franz Craft Lager, 4%
With fragrant, pine-like aromas, this Bohemian-style lager shows good balance and bitterness, with an underlying malt sweetness, plus a pine tinge that returns on the finish. Soft and very sessionable, this lager from Stewart Brewing suggests chicken, calamari and hot dogs, and I’d add salads, young cheeses or fish of all sorts. Quite versatile then!