Salopian Brewery take Overall Gold in first ever Digital Beer Awards


An English Bitter from a brewery in Shrewsbury has beaten almost 500 different beers from across the UK to be named overall Gold at the inaugural SIBA Digital Beer Awards 2020.

‘Darwin’s Origin’ from Salopian Brewery is a copper coloured Bitter given an international twist with an eclectic mix of US, New Zealand and European hops – which give the beer its distinctive lemony aroma and dry finish.

Middlesbrough brewery Play Brew Co’s ‘Los Bandito’, a hazy double-dry-hopped pale ale with big flavours of mango and stone-fruit, took the overall Silver having wowed judges in the Premium Pale Ales category. In the Bronze position overall was London Beer Lab’s Session IPA, a wonderfully aromatic, fruity and bitter beer from the Brixton-based brewers which beat out rivals in the hotly contested Session IPA category.

Judging took place live via Zoom with 50 expert beer judges

Organised by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and open to all independent breweries in the UK, the Digital Beer Awards 2020 were a landmark competition, entered by over 180 British breweries. The awards saw almost 500 different beers judged by 50 expert tasters across two live video judging days.

Competition Chair Guy Sheppard, congratulated winners and praised the quality of entries overall

“Congratulations to our very worthy winners who really did have to beat stiff competition from the rest of the UK to take the top spots, the quality of entries was incredibly high and testament to the passion and talent of British brewers in these trying times. I’d like to thank all of the breweries who took the time to enter the competition and send in their beers for judging.”

Salopian Brewery’s Darwin’s Origin, which achieved the highest overall score of any beer in the competition to take the Overall Gold in the National rankings, was first brewed in 2009 to celebrate the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s Birth in Shrewsbury, where the brewery is based. It is described by the brewer as being a “copper coloured beer that evolves with a pronounced hop character which leads to a refined malt finish”.

Judges were hugely impressed by the beer’s ‘great lemony aroma’ and commented that it was a ‘very good example of a dry bitter with good drinkability’. The timing could also not be more apt – in a year when best bitters have been coming back into fashion with beer drinkers, Darwin’s Origin fits snuggly into the resurgence.

Jake Douglas a Director at Salopian noted “the past few months have been a challenging time for Salopian, but we have adapted as many have had to and I am extremely pleased that one of the beers  we brewed and bottled  during lockdown has gone on to win such a prestigious award. Our bottling line has been creaking at the seams recently – earning it’s keep – this award is testament to the hard work and diligence of all my team.”

Expert beer judges, beer sommeliers and experienced brewers were used to judge beers for their flavour, aroma and quality, marking them against internationally recognised beer styles to determine which beers were most deserving of awards. The ‘blind’ tasting sessions took place via live video judging sessions across two days.

“The quality of beer in the UK has never been higher and the variety and flavour of beers submitted for the Digital Beer Awards was astounding. The UK is quite simply brewing some of the best beer anywhere in the World and in these awards showcased the full breadth of beer styles now available from independent craft breweries – from modern IPA and Pales Ales, Belgian style saisons and sour beers, to traditional British beers such as bitters, stouts and porters.” Guy Sheppard added.


SIBA Digital Beer Awards 2020
National Rankings         

Champion Bottle/Can Beers

Sponsored by Croxsons Brewery Product ABV
Gold Salopian Brewery Darwin’s Origin 4.3
Bronze London Beer Lab Ltd Session IPA 4.2

Bottle/Can British Dark Beers (up to 4.4%)

Sponsored by Simpsons Malt Brewery Product ABV
Gold Black Sheep Brewery Milk Stout 4.4
Silver Stewart Brewing Stewart’s 80/- 4.4
Bronze Dawkins Ales East Bristol Session Porter 4.1

Bottle/Can British Dark Beers (4.5 to 6.4%)

Sponsored by Simpsons Malt Brewery Product ABV
Gold Star Wing Brewery Stain Glass Blue 5.4
Silver The Hop Shed Ltd Phoenix Porter 5.2
Bronze Palmers Brewery Tally Ho! 5.5

Bottle/Can British Bitters (up to 4.4%)

Sponsored by Simpsons Malt Brewery Product ABV
Gold Salopian Brewery Darwin’s Origin 4.3
Silver Southbourne Ales Limited Southbourne Ales Headlander 4.2
Bronze Abbeydale Brewery Ltd Daily Bread 3.8

Bottle/Can Premium Bitters (4.5 to 6.4%)

Sponsored by Murphy & Son Ltd Brewery Product ABV
Gold Palmers Brewery Palmers 200 5
Silver Gower Brewery Co Ltd Gower Power 5.5
Bronze The Oaks Brewing Company NZ Pale 4.6

Bottle/Can Session IPA (up to 4.3%)

Sponsored by Clearmark Solutions Brewery Product ABV
Gold London Beer Lab Ltd Session IPA 4.2
Silver Salopian Brewery Keepsake 4.2
Bronze Dog Falls Brewing Co Colloidoscope 4.3

Bottle/Can Premium PAs (4.4 to 5.4%)

Sponsored by Clearmark Solutions Brewery Product ABV
Silver Purity Brewing Company Session IPA 4.5
Bronze Exmoor Ales Exmoor Gold 5

Bottle/Can Can IPA (5.5 to 6.4%)

Sponsored by Rankin Brothers & Sons Brewery Product ABV
Gold Brew York Ltd Big Eagle 6.4
Silver Windsor and Eton Brewery Uprising’s Treason 6
Bronze Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur 5.9

Bottle/Can Imperial IPA (6.5% and over)

Sponsored by Lemontop Creative Brewery Product ABV
Gold Fallen Acorn Brewing Co. Crystal Haze 7.2
Silver Padstow Brewing Co Sundowner 3.0 6.8
Bronze Brass Castle Brewery Ltd Disruptor 7.4

Bottle/Can Session Lager & Pilsners

Sponsored by Kegstar Brewery Product ABV
Gold Thornbridge Brewery Lukas 4.2
Silver Signature Brew Studio Lager 4
Bronze Weetwood Ales Kuhl Lager 4.2

Bottle/Can Premium Lager & Pilsners

Sponsored by Core Equipment Brewery Product ABV
Gold Turpin’s Brewery Cambridge Underback Pilsner 4.6
Gold Elusive Brewing Limited Overflow 4.8
Bronze Bays Brewery Ltd Devon Rock Craft Lager 4.5

Bottle/Can Amber to Dark Lager

Sponsored by Simpsons Malt Brewery Product ABV
Gold Utopian Brewing Vienna Keller 4.8
Silver Zerodegrees Cardiff The Beast Black Lager 4.6
Bronze Bedlam Brewery Ltd Bedlam BrouHaHa 4.4

Bottle/Can Speciality Light Beers 

Sponsored by Croxsons Brewery Product ABV
Gold London Beer Factory Skin Contact 5.5
Bronze Tyne Bank Brewery Ltd Summer Breeze 3.9

Bottle/Can Speciality Mid to Dark Beers 

Sponsored by Croxsons Brewery Product ABV
Gold Salcombe Brewery Co. Speyside barrel aged Porter 6.2
Silver Hammerton Brewery Crunch 5.4
Bronze Boss Brewing Wildfire 4.4

Bottle/Can Sours/Spontaneous

Sponsored by Croxsons Brewery Product ABV
Gold Ride Brew Co Mojito Sour 6
Silver Geipel Brewing Aloha from Bala 4.4
Bronze Deviant & Dandy And The Beat Gose On 4

Bottle/Can Strong Beers 6.5% and over

Sponsored by Pattesons Glass Brewery Product ABV
Gold Utopian Brewing Rainbock – Maibock Lager 7
Silver Fyne Ales Origins Brewing – Elegy 11.5
Bronze The Chiltern Brewery Bodgers Barley Wine 8.5


Related posts

SIBA launches Beerflex

Direct Delivery Scheme evolves in response to growing demand for quality independent beers The...

Robert Humphreys awarded MBE

All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and SIBA praise his achievements Robert Humphreys, formerly the Honorary...

SIBA supports Tryanuary

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) is supporting Tryanuary, the new initiative that encourages...