Bank Top and Brightside breweries victorious at real ale awards

The Bolton News: Champion brewer, David Sweeney at his Bank Top Brewery, Bolton Champion brewer, David Sweeney at his Bank Top Brewery, Bolton

MICRO-brewers from Bolton and Radcliffe are raising their glasses in celebration after scooping gold awards in the search to find the best beer in the North West.

Sharples-based Bank Top Brewery landed the top prize in the bottled speciality beers category with their Port O’Call ale, while Radcliffe’s Brightside won the overall championship with Amarillo, an American-style single hop IPA.

There was also a bronze for Horwich brewers Blackedge for their Black Port in the speciality beers category.

Irwell Works from Ramsbottom also finished third in the standard mild ales section with their Tin Plate brew.

More than 60 judges sampled the beer at the Hawkshead Brewery Beer Hall in Staveley, Cumbria where the Society of Independent Brewers and Associates (SIBA) were staging the competition.

Bank Top boss Dave Sweeney — a trustee of the North West SIBA — said in advance of the event he would be delighted if any of the local breweries received awards, and he was not disappointed.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Everything is rosy for the micro brewers in and around the Bolton area, and it’s fantastic.

“It was a massive surprise, because although we have won awards for Port O’Call before, it was the first time we entered the bottled category.

“The judging is very fair. No one knows which brewery is which when they are being tasted throughout the day, with the winners’ identity only revealed at the end.”

Family-run Brightside, meanwhile, were caught on the hop by their own success.

The company run by Neil Friedrich, wife Maxine, with their children Lance and Carley could not spare anyone to attend the event.

Carley said: “It was total surprise. The reason we didn’t go was that we had so much going on the day before, it was impossible. Then I got a text message from someone at Irwell Works, saying we had won, and we were over the moon.”

The Friedrichs only started brewing beer from the back of their bakery in 2011, and have only become a full-time brewery within the last few months.

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