THIRTY-FIVE drinks in seven categories – but there could be only one supreme champion of the Peterborough Beer Festival, and that accolade was taken by Moonlight. The bitter, brewed by Grafters of Gainsborough, came out on top after 25 eager drinkers spent three hours yesterday tasting a range of tipples to decide which was the festival’s finest. It was a special victory for the smooth tasting ale, which last year won the “best beer from a new brewery” category.

Each of the drinks – from best bitters, to stouts and porters – was judged purely on its taste, before a winner from each category was chosen. The winners were then brought back to the tables for one final tasting, where the overall champion was announced.

It is a tough job but – unsurprisingly – hospitality manager for the 32nd annual Peterborough Beer Festival, Noel Ryland, was not short of volunteers to complete the task.

He said: “The judging of the supreme champion beer is a very important part of the festival, but it’s also fun, too. It’s not a technical tasting, it’s just if the judge likes it or not.

“We’ve had a good cross-section of judges, including ladies who don’t normally drink beer.”

Not all the beers were easy drinking, as 24-year-old judge Johnnie Anderson from Peterborough’s CAMRA Cricket Club explained.

“We’ve been doing this now for a couple of years. It’s good fun, but not too technical, which helps because you just enjoy the beer. The first drink was rubbish, but there has been one very nice one, so that’s been my pick for the top so far.”

For Alix Botton (19), who is the Peterborough CAMRA’s young people contact, the judging was a first time experience as she bids to recruit a younger generation of ale drinkers.

She said: “We want to get as many young people as possible to join the organisation to get a big diversity of people. My first ‘taste’ has been pretty good, some have been bad, but some not so bad.”

The 35 finalists were chosen by the traders during their session on Tuesday afternoon at the opening of the festival.

A whopping 1,695 traders headed to The Embankment – up by more than 200 people from last year – followed by 4,729 punters later in the day, a record for the festival’s first night.

What was your favourite drink from this year’s festival?


Beer Festival 2009 winning beers

Brewery Beer Award

Grafters, Moonlight, GOLD
Green, Jack Ripper, SILVER
Batemans, Dark Mild, BRONZE

Grafters, Moonlight, GOLD
Tydd, Steam Barn Ale, SILVER
Hophead, Dark Star, BRONZE

Best Bitter
Tydd, Steam Roadhouse Bitter, GOLD
Skinners, Cornish Knocker, SILVER
Digfield, Shacklebush, BRONZE

Strong Bitter/Ale
Oakham Ales, Akhenaten, GOLD
Digfield, IPA, SILVER
Adnams, Broadside, BRONZE

Light and Dark Mild
Bateman, Dark Mild, GOLD
Brown Cow, Captain Oates, SILVER
Grainstore, Rutland Panther, BRONZE

Speciality Beer
Whim, Snow, White GOLD
Durham, Vice, SILVER
Green, Jack Orange Wheat Beer, BRONZE

Stout and Porter
Box Steam, Vanilla Porter, GOLD
Cliff Quay, Black Jack Aniseed Porter, SILVER
Elland, 1872 Porter, BRONZE

Barley Wine and Strong Old Ales
Green, Jack Ripper, GOLD
Otley, O8, SILVER
Hopshackle, Double Momentum, BRONZE

Best Beer From a New Brewery
Blue Monkey, B G Sips, GOLD
Cliff Quay, Black Jack Aniseed Porter, SILVER
Bewdley, Old School Bitter, BRONZE

For Best Beer and Barly Wines. Click Here.

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