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.
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.