The selection of the beers was made, some weeks before the event with the intention of contrasting the styles on show and putting some local breweries head to head with some others from further afield with some fairly weighty reputations behind them.
The styles of beer were selected to give each brewery a chance to shine within 3 categories. The first up for tasting was a Pale style beer, be it English, American or Wit style, being lighter on hopping and lighter generally in alcohol compared to the following categories (so as not to cloud the attendee’s palate too much). The second style of beer was the IPA category (for the uninitiated readers, this acronym usually means India Pale Ale or in some cases Imperial Pale Ale, the latter of which is noted for additional alcoholic strength). The final style was that of a stout or porter, with flavours ranging from coffee, toffee malts through to liquorice and some chocolate and vanilla in sweeter styles.
So, the line up of breweries and the beers they supplied (Pale, IPA, Stout respectively) were as follows:
Thornbridge (Bakewell, Derbyshire) – Wild Swan, Jaipur IPA and Beadecea’s Well;
Mad Hatter Brewery (Toxteth, Liverpool) – Liverpool Wit, Follow the White Rabbit IPA and Fatter Stout;
Liverpool Organic Brewery (Kirkdale, Liverpool) – 24 Carat Gold, Shipwreck IPA and Kitty Wilkinson;
Meantime Brewery (Greenwich, London) – London Pale, Meantime IPA and London Stout;
Melwood Brewery (Knowsley, Merseyside) – Paleface, Equinox and Derby Stout.
The beers were all tasted by attendees in batches of 5 (in each category) before they were supplied with a rating of 1 to 5 for the respective placing. Each of the numbers in the ratings were added together and then the beer with the lowest score was placed first in the category, then the next lowest in second place and so forth. The overall brewery rating was then gained by the relative placing of the beers in first to fifth position, adding the numbers together again, with the overall lowest score being the winning brewery in this round.
Andrew Barlow (1st place)
Jason Peters (2nd Place)
Mark Toney (3rd Place)
Les O’Grady (4th Place)
Incidentally, Andrew and Jason both guessed 7 breweries correctly and Mark and Les guessed 6, so a tie-breaker was required in the form of guessing the month and year of Germany’s Reinheitgetsbot, which split the winners accordingly.
So, which Breweries won then? Continue reading below for full details.
Pale Ale Category
1. Mad Hatter Brewery – Liverpool Wit
2. Thornbridge Brewery – Wild Swan
3. Meantime – London Pale Ale
4. Liverpool Organic Brewery – 24-Carat Gold
5. Melwood Brewery – Paleface
=1. Thornbridge Brewery – Jaipur IPA
=1. Liverpool Organic Brewery – Shipwreck IPA
3. Meantime Brewery – Meantime IPA
4. Melwood Brewery – Equinox
5. Mad Hatter Brewery – Follow the White Rabbit IPA
Stout or Porter Category
1. Meantime Brewery – London Stout
2. Mad Hatter Brewery – Fatter Stout
=3. Liverpool Organic Brewery – Kitty Wilkinson
=3. Thornbridge Brewery – Beadecea’s Well
5. Melwood Brewery – Derby Stout
Overall Brewery Placing
1. Thornbridge Brewery – 6 points
2. Meantime Brewery – 7 points
=3. Liverpool Organic Brewery – 8 points
=3. Mad Hatter Brewery – 8 points
5. Melwood Brewery – 14 points
Although the scores seem stretched from top to bottom, the voting was quite tight in some places and all the beers received quite positive reviews; the Derby Stout in particular was particularly unlucky, just missing out on a lower score.
Anyway, congratulations and thanks to the Breweries for getting involved and helping out with glassware loans and providing a discount on the beers to keep the ticket costs as low as possible, many thanks to John and Julie at Melwood for jumping in with provision of additional beers for the event too. Thanks also go to Gaz and Sue at Mad Hatter for glassware loans, especially to Karen Reilly for organising the venue and Angela Mulligan for helping to keep the event running smoothly. Finally special thanks to all the people who attended to make the event a veritable success; I think I’ll be hiring some elves to help run the event and keep things ticking along without having to run around with trays of beer!
Stay tuned for the next event folks, I shall be putting feelers out for breweries to get involved and will spread the news on my Twitter feed, Facebook page and via this blog.
Cheers and catch you all soon,