Suffolk brewer Adnams has won the UK’s first awards for best independent beers in a can with its Ghost Ship pale ale.
It was awarded Gold at last night’s Indie Beer Can Festival in east London, sponsored by the Can Makers, which represents can manufacturers, in partnership with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA),
Ghost Ship, which was launched in cans two years ago, is a citrusy pale ale brewed using Citra hops, at 4.5% ABV. The judges praised its luscious notes of tropical fruit, beautifully balanced malts, and sparkling amber appearance.
Silver went to Lancashire brewer Thwaites for 13 Guns, which is an American IPA-style beer that sits within its Crafty Dan range from the company’s microbrewery. At 5.5% ABV, it was launched in cans in June for both the on-trade and off-trade. It was described by the judges as having aromas and flavours of orange and grapefruit, and a moreish finish.
Thwaites marketing manager Lee Williams said: “We’re especially delighted to have been awarded silver at this year’s Indie Beer Can Festival as it was a blind tasting. 13 Guns continues to go from strength to strength. With four awards already this year, it is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about craft beers in the industry.”
Bronze went to Bristol’s Arbor Ales for its 7.4% ABV Breakfast Stout which is currently available on draught but was packaged in cans especially for the competition by manufacturer Crown. The judges praised its highly aromatic notes of black coffee and vanilla, calling it “a real bomb of a beer”.
Launched in April 2014, the Indie Beer Can Festival invited independent brewers in the UK and Eire to submit their beers, regardless of original pack format, for judging in cans.
There were over 100 entrants from about 70 brewers, with Crown putting many of the beers into cans for the first time especially for the competition.
The other nine finalists were Batemans’ Orange Barley, Blacks of Kinsale’s Kinsale Pale Ale, Butcombe Brewery’s Butcombe Gold, The Concrete Cow Brewery’s Dirty Cow, Fyne Ales’ Sanda Blonde, Purity Brewing Company’s Longhorn IPA, Springhead Brewery’s Roaring Meg, Wadworth’s Beer Kitchen Orange Peel, and Windsor and Eton Brewery’s Republika.
Emma Hibbert, marketing director at Adnams, said: “We are overjoyed to have been recognised by such a prestigious panel of judges. Ghost Ship has been a real success story for Adnams.
“Times are good for canned beer, with more and more premium beer brands choosing the format.”
Graham Fenton, chairman of the Can Makers, said: “It has been a privilege to sample such a great range of beers and to select our fantastic winner. It’s also been gratifying to see how successfully Indie Beer Can Festival has tapped into the rapidly growing trend for independent beers in cans.
“Cans are convenient, light, quickly chilled and they look great. In America canned independent beers are the height of cool. It won’t be long before the same can be said in the UK.”
Nick Stafford, SIBA commercial director, added: “There are many superb independent beers in the market which pay tribute to the craft, quality and innovation of the industry.
“We’re pleased to have been involved in this competition, which has generated huge interest in cans and encouraged SIBA members to explore it as another way of bringing their beers to the growing number of craft beer drinkers.”
As well as Graham Fenton, the judging panel included industry experts Adrian Tierney-Jones and Jane Peyton, Tesco’s beer buyer Chiara Nesbitt, and Peter Love, president of Cask Brewing Systems.