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Wheat Beer Challenge launched

Following its successful debut in 2015, Imbibe Live’s beer competition will return in June 2016 with a Wheat Beer Challenge for the brewers of Britain.

Imbibe Live’s beer ambassador, Mark Dorber, founder of Boudica Inns, is inviting brewers large and small to enter for their chance to win a seasonal listing at a selection of Mitchells & Butlers’ leading pubs and a trip to the Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic.

WBCPartnering once more with SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, and pan-industry campaign There’s A Beer For That, Britain’s newly-crowned Brewer of the Year, Beavertown’s Jen Merrick and Meantime founder and wheat-beer specialist, Alastair Hook will join the expert panel tasked with judging Round 1. Finalists will be invited to Centre Stage on the first day of Imbibe Live, 4 July, where the audience will decide the ultimate winner Ready Steady Cook style, having had a chance to taste the beer and hear the pitch.

‘SIBA are delighted to be teaming up with Imbibe Live for the Wheat Beer Challenge,’ says SIBA’s Neil Walker. ‘We hope that as many of our craft brewing members across the UK enter the competition as possible. As well as being a great commercial opportunity, this is a chance to flex those brewing muscles and produce a truly fantastic wheat beer, something which requires great skill and care.’

‘We’ve had great success in 2015 with wheat beers such as Blanche de Bruxelles and Stiegl Weisse,’ said M&B’s Ben Lockwood. ‘Challenging the UK brewing scene to come up with a winning entry to be poured in some of our leading pubs is certain to see some high quality entries.’

There’s A Beer For That’s David Cunningham agreed. ‘The competition is a great way for brewers to showcase how innovation in styles and flavours of beer is helping to drive interest and excitement in the category, as well as showcasing the quality, diversity and versatility of beer.’

Despite being the second most used grain in brewing, ‘It’s not easy to brew with wheat,’ says Dorber. ‘The high gluten content and lack of husk that make it ideal for baking cause problems of stickiness in a brewers’ mash tun,’ he explains, continuing ‘By contrast barley, with its firm husk, makes the ideal filter bed. But together, the two work well. Wheat confers a clean, crisp flavour to this grain mix, both lightening and enlivening the resulting beer, and making it the perfect mirror for a variety of fruit flavours, particular citric fruits and hops, as well as a range of spices.

Entries in all styles are being invited, from the perfume of a bière blanche to the tang of a Berliner weiss, from a sassy fruit wheat beer to a darker dunkelweiss.

To ensure all are able to enter, all formats are welcome, cans and bottles, mini-kegs and mini-casks. The recipe must be new for 2016, have at least 25% wheat in its mashbill, and be capable of being scaled up and replicated should the entrant be the lucky winner (see note 2, and live.imbibe.com/news).

All five finalists will be invited to show their beers in the Hop & Apple Garden for the duration of the show. The popular Beer Club run by There’s A Beer For That on 8 July will take as its theme Wheat Beers, with Mark Dorber in the chair.

Technical details for the entries and their delivery will be issued in the New Year. Meanwhile, brewers are being invited to add the Wheat Beer Challenge to their 2016 brewing schedules.