BLESSINGS of your heart, you brew good ale – so wrote Shakespeare in The Two Gentlemen Of Verona. 

And it’s a quote the bard  would no doubt have used had he attended last week’s MaltingsFest in Newton Abbot where close on three hundred beers were put to the test and to find the best of best bitters and cask champions.

Both connoisseurs and quaffers of ale mingled at one of the south west’s biggest beer festivals once the event was opened to the public. But first came the all-important task of judging the ales at the event, organised Society of Independent Brewers in the South West. In a day-long session last Thursday brews from all over the south west were studied, sniffed, viewed, tasted and deliberated over. 

Beer sommeliers, master brewers and other expert beer judges from across the industry who assembled in the marquees in Osborne Park had their work cut out but two beers rose to the top with Eight Arch Brewing and Yonder Brewing have taking home the two Overall Champion awards.

Square Logic by Dorset brewery  Eight Arch, an aromatic and fruity pale ale using buckets of American hops, was named the best cask beer in the competition after a final round judging against all other beer style category winners.  In the separate keg beer competition it was Somerset-based Yonder Brewing’s Raspberry Gose that took the top spot, wowing judges with huge fruit flavours, subtle sourness and a refreshing, balanced finished.

‘These awards recognise the very best independent craft breweries in the South West and the quality of beers  was truly outstanding,’ said SIBA’s Neil Walker. 

‘A massive well-done to the brewers and to our hosts at the MaltingsFest who have ensured all of the beers were served in absolute peak condition. 

‘To win your category in these awards is incredibly tough, so I’d like to give particular congratulations to our two Overall Champion winners who were named by the expert judging panel as the very best of the best.’

Steve Farrell, owner and founder of Eight Arch Brewing in Dorset was on hand to collect this prestigious award,

‘We’re absolutely over the moon to win the overall cask champion at SIBA South West,’ he said.

‘It’s a surprise as  a 4.2% beer going up against some of the region’s bigger beers is always tough, so an amazing feeling to win. The beer itself is a really easy drinking pale, there’s oats and wheat to give great body, but also loads of citra and mosaic hops too giving great aroma and flavour. 

‘The whole aim of this beer is that people can just enjoy it and drink pints and pints of it, and obviously the judges enjoyed it today!’

Other winners included Padstow Brewing Company’s Padstow Pilot 4% for cask session dark beer, Twisted Oak’s Ghost Town 5.7% in cask British Dark beer, Utopian Brewing’s British Pale Ale 4.4% for the cask British bitter section and Branscombe Vale Brewery’s SummaThat at 5%  took the prize for British best bitter.