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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Final preparations for biggest beer competition in Cumbria

ALMOST 200 beers have rolled into town for a three-day Cumbria festival and competition this week.

With just days left to go until the Society of Independent Brewers North West regional competition and festival, final preparations are being made as the beer list is revealed and almost 200 beers roll into town.

The event, set to be the county’s biggest event of its kind, is being held at The Beer Hall in Staveley from Thursday October 24 to Saturday 26. Cumbria is one of the UK’s most prolific beer producing regions and 15 of the county’s brewers will be represented, more than any other part of the North West.

They will join around 50 brewers – from Lancaster to Macclesfield, Merseyside to the Blackburn – who have entered their finest ales into the showcase in the hope of securing one of 13 category titles. The overall championship winner will secure a place on the bar of the brewer’s society’s national BeerX event in 2014, plus the chance to supply JDWetherspoon.

Dave Bailey and his partner Ann Wedgwood, who run Millom's Hardknott Brewery, will have three of their beers at the festival; Azimuth, Continuum and Lux Borealis.

The three beers are part of the Direct Delivery Scheme run by SIBA, which is designed to promote independently brewed beers to tied houses. This will enable Hardknott beers to be more available in pubs across Cumbria and Lancashire.

Mr Bailey said: "Ann and I are really committed to trying to inspire people about the exciting array of beers and new tastes there are out there and this festival will be a really good opportunity to do that.

"The strength of our beers is matched by their depth and intensity of flavour and I want people to break away from the mindset of going for the middle of the road milds and try something a bit different instead."

BBC Radio Cumbria presenter Gordon Swindlehurst will be broadcasting live from The Beer Hall during the judging on Thursday, with weather presenter Kay Crewdson, after which he will compere the prize giving from 5pm when the festival will open to the public. Gordon said: “As a real ale drinker I am delighted to be joining the region’s brewers for the event and introducing my listeners to some of the people who are reinvigorating this ancient craft in the North West.”

The 196 casks and 85 bottle entries have arrived in Staveley where they were received by staff from Hawkshead Brewery which is hosting the event. Following the competition, all will be available for festival visitors to try throughout the three days, while stocks last, with up to 100 on hand pull. The beer list has now been revealed and can be viewed on the festival website www.siba.co.uk/nwbf/tasting-notes

Greg Bolton, chairman of SIBA North added: “The competition is a great opportunity for the region’s breweries to show off what they can accomplish, not just for festival visitors but also among their peers, demonstrating the phenomenal work and passion that goes into creating good cask ale. The effort that has gone into organising the competition and festival is tremendous and we’re looking forward to welcoming both beer enthusiasts and new visitors to the event.”

The Society of Independent Brewers was formed in the 1980s to represent the interests of independent brewers in a market that was increasingly dominated by global beer brands. With interest in cask and craft beer increasing, at the moment SIBA continues to work on behalf of brewers providing information and support to breweries and the pub industry.

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