Three breweries set up in the last six years have taken top honours in SIBA's National Beer Competition, announced at BeerX, the association's annual conference being held in Sheffield.
Old Dairy Brewery from Tenterden in Kent was named 'small pack' Supreme Champion for its Dark Side of the Moo, a 7% Imperial Porter in 33cl bottle, London's Sambrook's picked up the keg Supreme Gold, again for a dark beer, this time an 8.4% Russian Imperial Stout, while at the other end of the colour and strength spectrum, husband and wife team Euan and Fiona MacEachern (pictured) were named Ultimate Champion of the Competition for Loch Lomond Southern Summit, a 4% golden ale.
'It's fantastic news,' Sean Calnan, Old Dairy’s GM told Imbibe. ‘Dark Side of the Moo was one of the first beers we brewed but we've done it slightly differently this year. We've changed the hops and made it available in KeyKeg for the first time. Our head brewer, Glenn Whatman, has been in charge for 18 months and he's putting his own mark on the beers.'
'It means the world to us.' said Fiona MacEachern, of Loch Lomond’s win. 'I'd love to dedicate this award to my wonderful mum who passed away four weeks ago,’ said Euan. 'She supported us every step of the way and she would be over the moon to see us win this amazing award.' Using British grains, US hops and the 'soft, pure' local water, Southern Summit is available in bottle as well as cask.
While Dark Side of the Moo's recipe may have evolved, it's the reverse for Sambrook's brewer Sean Knight. ‘I don’t touch the recipe,' he told Imbibe. Having spent months researching the style, he uses all English hops and adds a bit of wheat to his malt-bill. 'Our house yeast performs particularly well at the higher abvs,' he added.
The awards are the culmination of a year-long round of regional competitions. Beer X includes both annual conference and consumer beer festival, with the bar full of SIBA regional winners.
For more on the winning beers, see the next issue of Imbibe. Catch up with SIBA at Imbibe Live later this year, on 4 & 5 July.