Brewhouse & Kitchen beat off a strong challenge from the New World Trading Company to win The Tapsters crown for the second year in a row in a gruelling final at
Imbibe Live earlier this month.
The final of the competition, designed to find the best beer and cider team in the land, took place on Centre Stage on the first day of Imbibe Live, attracting teams from up and down the land. Brewhouse & Kitchen’s Hopstars, led by David Quin from Gloucester’s B&K, hailed from Nottingham, Litchfield and Milton Keynes, while the New World Trading Company crew, the MOBsters, led by Matt Arnold of The Canal House in Birmingham, had made their way from Sheffield, Newcastle and Liverpool.
A tough semi-final, which had seen teams from Nicholson’s, London Village Inns and Barworks also pitching for the crown, resulted in a re-run of the 2018 final, albeit with different individuals.
With BeerBelle’s Annabel Smith as compere, Pete Brown, renowned writer and chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, chaired the Final’s expert panel, alongside BGBW Beer Writer of the Year, Emma Inch, and prize sponsor, Euroboozer founder, Martyn Railton.
While both teams identified three out of four faults in Round 1, it was Hopstars who impressed the judges with their explanations for the origins of these unwanted flavours.
Hopstars extended their lead with the food matching round, particularly with their beer suggestions for goats’ cheese tart with sundried tomatoes. “Made me want to try it,” said Inch of the Westmalle Tripel and Belgian Blonde pairing tips. A clean sweep of the identification of beer and cider styles extended Hopstars’ lead further, but there was a fightback on the horizon.
Kieran Hitchen from the Botanist, Sheffield, put in a stunning Asturian cider throw for the MOBsters, scoring nearly 90% of the available marks. However it was not to be. Despite each team scoring a full house in the University Challenge questions, it was Hopstars’ speed and accuracy in the final Quick Fire round that clinched the prize for them.
“I’d be happy to be served beer or cider by anyone on this stage,” said Brown. “It was very difficult just getting to the final. They’ve all done excellent work.”
“I think this competition brings out the joy that comes with beer and cider,” added Inch. “It’s not just about what’s in the glass, but about who’s serving you, and how. It’s about that passion and enthusiasm.”
“To witness such a high level of knowledge and passion from two outstanding teams is heartwarming and shows that the future of our industry is in very good hands indeed,” said Railton.
The winning team, comprising Quin, Gil Barton, Mike Mason and Caitlin McErlean, will travel to Austria as guests of Euroboozer and Stiegl, to enjoy behind the scenes tours of both the brewery and its extensive barrel-ageing store, plus an exclusive beer-matched dinner and a chance to enjoy the hospitality of Salzburg.
About Imbibe Live: Imbibe Live entered its tenth year in 2019 on 1-2 July, as the annual exhibition for anyone who sources, buys or serves drinks in the licensed on-trade. Beer and cider highlights included appearances from the likes of Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver and Tom Oliver, of Oliver’s Cider & Perry, and Pete Brown, reprising his famed beer and music matching masterclass.
Launched in March 2007, Imbibe magazine rapidly became the UK’s leading publication for on-trade drinks professionals working in premium UK establishments. Imbibe is an ABC-audited magazine with 20,000 drinks buyers and servers in the UK receiving the quarterly magazine. Copies are available upon request.
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The Tapsters: Organised by Susanna Forbes for Imbibe Live, the competition was kindly sponsored by trade body UKHospitality, semi-finals host, Nicholson’s of Mitchells & Butlers, and Euroboozer/Stiegl, with support from FlavorActiV and Mevalco/Trabanco.
The Prize: A trip for four to Salzburg to visit the Stiegl Brewery, courtesy of Stiegl and its UK importer, Euroboozer. With its rich history dating back 500 years, Stiegl is among the pioneers of the Slow Brewing movement, where care and attention relates to every element, from ingredients through to the crew crafting the final brews.