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SIBA North doubles up beer comp and launches Northern Beer Festival.

This year’s beer competition in the biggest SIBA region will be the biggest ever, and members will be able to enter more beers than ever before.

The North region has decided to split its annual beer competition in two to cope with the large number of breweries wanting to compete.

Three categories – bitter, strong ale and bottled beer -- will be judged on Friday November 6th at The Beer Hall, at Hawkshead Brewery in Cumbria, and will be followed by a public SIBA Beer Festival to drink the entries.

The other categories will be judged as usual at The North AGM, at the Scarisbrick Hotel, Southport in January.

At 117 brewing members, The North is by far the biggest SIBA region. As a result members have had to be restricted, in past years, to two cask entries, and the bottle competition became too big to handle.

By splitting the competition it is hoped restrictions can be lifted, and the bottled beer competition can be given greater prominence – efforts will be made to recruit judges from the off trade.

The Beer Hall at Staveley, which was built as a showcase for real ale, was overall winner of SIBA’s first business awards in 2006. It has a large cold cellaring capacity. “We can serve 24 beers at a time on the bar through hand pull” said Hawkshead Brewery’s Alex Brodie, “and cellar upwards of 60 casks, as well as the bottles … least I hope we can. It’ll be a challenge.”

SIBA trustees from The North, Nina Bates of Flying Firkin, Andrew Whalley of York Brewery and Alex Brodie of Hawkshead Brewery say their main challenge is to recruit enough new judges to man the November competition, without taking judges away from the Southport event.


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