A diverse set of breweries, ranging from a 14-month newbie to a pair in their 30s, have made it to the final of the Wheat Beer Challenge, Imbibe Live’s 2016 beer competition.
Designed to identify the best beer with at least 25% wheat in its mashbill created in 2016, Boss Brewing and Heavy Industry Brewing from Wales, Harviestoun from Scotland, and West Berkshire Brewery and The Little Beer Corporation from England will battle it out in the Brewers’ Den on the first day of Imbibe Live to win the audience vote following the first round of judging held at Fullers on 23 June.
From can to cask, zesty orange to herb-and-spice infused brews, wheat beer showed its versatility. Boss Bix, a herb and orange-infused witbier, scored for Swansea’s newest brewery, Boss Brewing, while Pigeon Toed Orange Peel, a cloudy hefeweissen featuring the novel hop, Mandarina Bavaria was the finalist from Heavy Industry Brewing, the four-year-old brewery based near Rhyl. Harviestoun’s Wheat Beastie recipe included leaves of lemon verbena, lime and coriander, contributing to a refreshingly, complex beer, declared ‘Yummy,’ by judge Jenn Merrick of Beavertown.
South of the border, West Berkshire Brewing won through with Wheaty McWheatface, a moreish, sessionable British Wheat Beer, while The Little Beer Corporation, Guildford’s microbrewery with its 300 local shareholders, reached the final with the zestily refreshing Running of the Bulls, so-called due to the huge amounts of Spanish blood oranges added to the conditioning tank.
‘We’ve had an outstanding range of beers today,’ said chair of judges, Mark Dorber, ‘They demonstrated an imaginative range of herbs, fruits and spices as well as a discernible wheat character, showing that this style is a worthy addition to the summer must-stock beer list’
‘Crisp, refreshing and absolutely entrancing, more beer drinkers deserve to have the opportunity to try these beers,’ said British Guild of Beer Writers’ chair, Tim Hampson. ‘Worldwide, wheat beers have become a must-brew style for serious craft brewers who want to showcase their creative skills. But let’s brew local rather than import.’ SIBA’s Neil Walker agreed, ‘The quality was amazingly high in this difficult category. The entries show the dexterity of British brewers.’
‘What the finalists had in common was sheer drinkability,’ said Mitchells & Butlers’ Richard Yarnell. ‘It’s good to be involved once more,’ said There’s A Beer For That’s David Cunningham. ‘This is a great competition, encouraging brewers to experiment, and it is this creativity which is underpinning the current beer renaissance.’
- Chaired by Mark Dorber, the Round 1 judging panel included Fullers’ John Keeling, Beavertown’s Jenn Merrick, the British Guild of Beer Writers’ chair, Tim Hampson, and long time wheat beer specialist Adrian Tierney Jones, plus Richard Yarnell from prize sponsors Mitchells & Butlers and Francois Pienaar from Pilsner Urquell, SIBA’s Neil Walker and David Cunningham from There’s A Beer For That, and Imbibe’s Susanna Forbes.
- The victor wins a pair of tickets to visit Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic as well as a seasonal listing at a selection of M&B’s leading pubs.
- Imbibe Live is open to all those involved with drinks in the hospitality sector. Visitors can find out more and register at Imbibe Live.
- Social details: @ImbibeUK, #ImbibeLive #WheatBeer
- For further information, please contact Susanna Forbes, email@example.com