JD Wetherspoon and Punch Co back SIBA North West event
One North West brewer could get the listing of a lifetime after pub chain JD Wetherspoon threw its support behind the SIBA North West Region Beer Competition and Festival. For the first time ever, the Overall Champion beer from a SIBA regional contest will be invited to supply JD Wetherspoon.
The competition, being staged by the Society of Independent Brewers North West Region in October, opened for entries on August 1. All 80 North West breweries which are members of SIBA, are invited to enter their beers which will be judged by a panel of experts including SIBA members, CAMRA experts and national food and drink journalists. More than 200 beers are expected to be entered.
Gary Holmes from JD Wetherspoon said: “Our pubs are recognised for serving beers of the highest quality and we are always keen to discover new products for customers to enjoy. As the brewers’ society, SIBA competitions are a showcase for excellence and we are delighted to give them our support and we are looking forward to tasting the winning beer from the North West competition in October.”
Fifteen categories are up for awards, including those for cask as well as bottles, from which the overall winner will be selected. The beer which is crowned ‘Overall Champion of the Competition’ will be offered a listing with JD Wetherspoon and also on the Punch Pub Co Finest Cask rotation. It will also feature on the SIBA bar at the Great British Beer Festival 2014 and be entered into the SIBA BeerX National Beer Competition 2014, which takes place in Sheffield in March and pits all eight SIBA regional winners against each other.
Greg Bolton, chairman of SIBA North West, said the opportunity to secure a national presence could be a valuable opportunity for the brewery: “The title doesn’t just come with bragging rights, there is a genuine commercial opportunity for the winning brewery with two of the country’s biggest chains offering the chance for brewers to gain exposure to a national market, and who knows where that might lead. Even if a brewery is too small to take on a national listing, there will still be opportunities for them on a smaller scale within their region or local area.
“We’re delighted with the encouragement we’ve received from the industry for the SIBA North West competition, there is a real desire for quality beer from consumers and these two companies have responded to that with their support. Helping and promoting independent brewers is SIBA’s main aim and the competition is a great opportunity for our members, and of course for customers to come along and try their choice of the 200 beers that will be on offer as part of the festival.”
David Aucutt from East West Ales, which will provide the JD Wetherspoon listing, added: “The SIBA North West event will be a showcase of the best the region has to offer and I’m confident that the Overall Champion ale will be an absolute cracker. Pub companies are always on the look out for new products to meet the ever more sophisticated tastes of their consumers and the winner of such as prestigious event will make for a fantastic addition to any bar.”
The SIBA North West Region Beer Competition and Festival is being held Thursday, October 24 to Saturday, October 26 at The Beer Hall in Staveley, Cumbria, allowing the expected 3,000 visitors to soak up the atmosphere of an authentic working brewery. Free to enter, it will be the county’s biggest ever beer festival with all 200 beers available at the same time (while stocks last) and up to 100 on handpull at one time.
The SIBA North West Region has partnered with local charity the Cumbria Community Foundation which will be fundraising during the event and hoping to raise in excess of £3,000 through sales of the event brochure. Go Lakes and Cumbria Tourism are also supporting the event, helping visitors to find transport and accommodation.