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25th May 2017

The Tapsters & The IPA Challenge open for entries


The Tapsters, Imbibe Live’s new competition designed to find the best beer & cider team throughout the UK, makes its debut this year, alongside the return of the show’s annual beer competition, this year devoted to IPA.

‘Wine and cocktails often take centre stage on bar menus, but now we’re hoping bragging rights for the best bartenders is extended to beer buffs,’ says Imbibe Live’s Beer Ambassador, Mitch Adams, of Borough Wines & Beers.

The winners will win an all-expenses paid trip to Rock in Cornwall, home of Sharp’s Brewery and the UK’s no.1 cask ale, Doom Bar. As well as £500 spending money, winners will go behind-the-scenes with head brewer, Andrew Madden, experience an exclusive food and beer matching dinner with Sharp’s Beer Sommelier, Ed Hughes, and take a speed boat ride over the infamous Doom Bar.

Organised in partnership with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, teams from pubs, bars, restaurants and groups are invited to enter by 6 June. ‘I hope we get a good cross section from tap rooms to boozers and gastropubs to fine dining restaurants,’ says Adams.

Following an initial evaluation, Round 1 will take place at education partner, The Beer & Cider Academy, with an afternoon of training followed by a series of tasks to see which two teams will make it to the final on centre stage at Imbibe Live. With a quick-fire University Challenge-style quiz focusing on general beer and cider knowledge, storing and serving, other rounds will test food matching, fault analysis, and perfect pour credentials.

Imbibe’s Educator of the Year, beer sommelier Annabel Smith will be MC, while award-winning writer Pete Brown, The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook, and Sharp’s beer sommelier Ed Hughes will be on the expert panel.

‘The new found interest in beer among consumers means the hospitality industry has to step up to the plate with well educated, well informed and engaged teams,’ says Smith. ‘This competition will set the bar for beer sellers in the future.’

See here for further details.


The IPA Challenge

Meanwhile, Imbibe Live’s beer competition returns for its third year, this time embracing that most popular of styles, the IPA.

Breweries of Britain are invited to enter IPAs that are currently available in can or bottle.

The winner secures a coveted seasonal listing at a selection of M&B’s top pubs, as well as the chance to feature on There’s A Beer For That’s Beer Match and Explorer digital directories. All finalists will be able to share their beers in the popular Hop & Apple Bar during Imbibe Live.

‘Craft Beer continues to grow in popularity as drinkers seek out those now iconic hop forward flavours and aromas so synonymous with a modern IPA,’ says M&B’s Ben Lockwood. ‘We’re delighted to partner with Imbibe Live for the second year running to bring what I know will be a much sought after IPA to our pubs.’

SIBA is very proud to once again be partnering with Imbibe Live on the IPA Challenge,’ says the Association’s Neil Walker. ‘I’ll be looking for big aromatics and flavour from the beers entered by SIBA’s independent craft-brewing members – some of the most exciting breweries in the UK.’

‘IPAs are the pinnacle of the pale ale tradition,’ says chair of judges, Mark Dorber, The Anchor at Walberswick. Why? ‘Because they are packed with hop flavour and character. What other drinks category is experiencing such a surge of interest?’

Following a first round of judging at host partner, Fuller’s Brewery in Chiswick, five finalists are invited to share their beers and pitch for the audience vote at Imbibe Live.

2016 winners West Berkshire Brewery cited the 2016 competition as ‘the perfect opportunity to put ourselves up against other brewers in the Wheat Beer Challenge’ according to West Berkshire’s Simon Lewis. ‘The listing with M&B was the added bonus for us,’ he added, continuing: ‘We agreed with M&B the listing of Wheaty in their Castle outlets and received unanimous support and appreciation from the pubs for the period that we were on the bar.’

See here for further details.


Further information: Susanna Forbes,


Editors’ Notes

  1. An essential date in the diary for drinks professionals, including buyers, managers, bartenders, publicans and sommeliers Imbibe Live enters its eighth year in 2017, taking place at London Olympia on 3-4 July and covering the entire spectrum of drinks categories.
  2. Visitors meet cutting edge exhibitors, network with key industry contacts and improve their drinks IQ with an unrivalled programme of masterclasses, tastings and theatre sessions.
  3. Visitor registration is open for the event at
  4. Press enquiries, including quotes and images: Susanna Forbes: 07811 913971,
  5. 2017 sees the return of the Beer & Cider Hub, with a collection of masterclasses from leading lights in the beer and cider world, including talks from Beer Ambassador, Mitch Adams, of Borough Wines & Spirits, and Cider Ambassador, Tom Oliver, of Oliver’s Cider & Perry. Pete Brown tackles How to Build a Beer List in The Academy, while Adams and Oliver take to the Taste Zone to pit beer against cider in the food matching arena. Overseas input comes courtesy of award-winning American cidermaker, Ryan Burk, and Irish brewing sisters, Judith and Susan Boyle.
  6. On the exhibition floor, The Hop & Apple Bar returns, with a range of smaller, boutique producers. For a full list of exhibitors, head to the website.
  7. Courtesy of Sharp’s Brewery, the winning team in The Tapsters will win a trip to Rock in Cornwall, home of Sharp’s and the UK’s no.1 cask ale, Doom Bar, to be taken in September or October. As well as the brewery tour and speed boat ride over Doom Bar, winners will visit The Mariners, the coastal pub Sharp’s operates with Michelin-starred Nathan Outlaw.
  8. The winner of The IPA Challenge will secure a seasonal listing with a selection of M&B’s leading pubs in Spring 2018, plus a listing on Explorer and Beer Match with There’s A Beer For That.