An elegant elderflower ale brewed by Green Jack Brewery triumphed over a sassy fruit beer, a proud Cornish lager, a punchy American Pale Ale from a three-month old Brighton craft beer house, and the deftly named and executed Sour to the People to win the first Imbibe Live beer competition.
Tim Dunford, founder and master brewer at Green Jack Brewery in Lowestoft, beat off the four other breweries in an audience vote following the live finals in the Brewers’ Den at Imbibe Live. While the audience sipped the beers, each brewer shared both the ideas and the brand imagery behind the beer. Comprising members of the on-trade, beer experts and brewers alike, the audience made their decision Ready Steady Cook-style, with coloured cards at the end.
Challenged to brew A Beer For Summer, contestants from up and down the land had been whittled down to five by an expert judging panel in the first round held at Fuller’s.
Following a lively set of presentations – the audience were encouraged to Be More Bison by the lively trio from Bison Beer for example, and learnt how the life cycle of a fruit fly compared with that of a fruit beer thanks to Tom Newman of Celt Experience – the audience cast its vote, with Summer Dream, a 4%, dry, lightly hoppy ale, taking the crown just ahead of Celt Experience’s Goddess of the Spring, a 6% red fruit saison.
‘Summer Dream is the best elderflower beer I have ever tasted,’ said Mark Dorber, chair of judges and owner of The Anchor at Walberswick. Charlie McVeigh, founder of The Draft House, called it ‘a revelation. It was everything a summer ale should be: frothy, refreshing and utterly delicious.’ David Cunningham, programme director of There’s A Beer For That, felt that the finalists ‘reflected a range of styles and tastes all suitable for summer drinking,’ agreeing with fellow sponsor, Tony Jerome, communications and membership director of SIBA, that Summer Dream had ‘the edge,’ with the addition of elderflowers ‘offering a unique combination of a classic taste of a British summer and refreshment’.
With elderflowers only in flower for a few months, this beer is a true summer seasonal. While Dunford was presenting, his crew back home were gathering more elderflowers for a brew the next day. When asked about his win, Dunford said he was ‘Well chuffed. I first made elderflower fizz when I was 12 years old. Every year with elderflowers is different though. Winning this competition is great recognition for the work that goes into Summer Dream and I’m grateful to everyone at the brewery who has helped us to produce this lovely summer beer.’
Dunford wins a seasonal listing in The Draft House and a trip for two to Budvar Brewery in the Czech Republic. All the finalists featured in the Beer Club run by There’s A Beer For That on 1 July, hosted by Dorber, which took as its theme summer beer.
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