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Cask men trash big brewers in BBPA awards

By: JimOldfield

October 18th, 2012

Real ale champions ruled at the first ever British Beer and Pub Association industry awards, as cask brewers picked up all four new gongs. Brewing companies Liberation Group, Daniel Thwaites and Joseph Holt each clinched top spot in the three awards categories at the BBPA’s annual dinner last night (October 17).

And Wychwood Brewery’s Chris Keating collected an extra accolade for launching the Government e-petition to “Stop the beer duty escalator”.

Meanwhile, BBPA chairman Jonathan Neame hit out at the “crushing” tax burden on the industry in his speech to guests, stating: “When we pay 40 to 50 per cent of all revenues in excise duty and VAT, and Starbucks paying next to nothing – something is very wrong with our system”.

Liberation Group, from Jersey, won the Beer Champion 2012 award after wowing judges with its “real dedication to beer”. Judges thought its “ale trails”, innovative and diverse beers, plus work to educate new and existing drinkers to beer’s quality and wholesomeness, made Liberation a “worthy champion”.

Bedford’s Charles Wells took the runner-up spot for its Bombardier campaign which mixed humour with a “professionally executed quality initiative”.

Lancashire’s Daniel Thwaites took the Pub Champion prize for “setting the standard in tenant support and business partnership”. Judges loved the innovation of Thwaites’ WayInn initiative as well as its PubTalk magazine, its commitment to investing in challenging pubs and its efforts in menu development.

Heineken UK took the Highly Commended slot for “impressive investments in their pub estate”.

Manchester’s Joseph Holt proved they rule the hearts of the North-West after seizing the Heart of the Community accolade above local rivals JW Lees and Daniel Thwaites – together with Heineken UK who were also shortlisted for their work in Manchester.

At Holts, “everyone, from brewery to boardroom, cellar man to chairman, seeks to make difference”, judges said. They added that its long-standing partnerships with the local Christie Hospital and homes for those on low incomes proved its commitment to the community.

Highly Commended went to Heineken for its part in a pilot project to tackle issues with alcohol and ex-offenders in the city.

Mr Neame presented his Chairman’s Award to Mr Keating for his creativity at Wychwood by starting the nationwide e-petition against the beer dusty escalator which now has over 100,000 signatures.

The boss of England’s oldest brewery Shepherd Neame, had slammed the despised taxes in his dinner speech, adding: “This tax burden is despised by pubgoers, hated by beer drinkers, and is crushing for licensees.

“This is a tax on socialising, on communities, on friendship. It hits the poorest in our society hardest.”