Competitors in a semi-final of The Tapsters competition
The finalists beat off strong opposition from the North Bar and The Ale Team from Brewhouse & Kitchen in The Tapsters semi-final, held at The Beer & Cider Academy.
An intense day of high-level tuition, led by beer sommelier Annabel Smith and the ciderologist, Gabe Cook, was followed by three tasks.
Flavor Activ’s involvement enabled a session on off-flavours, using four taints to illustrate and explain key destructors of quality in the bar environment. Beers and ciders supplied by a number of Imbibe Live exhibitors provided the benchmarks for key beer and cider styles. Spanish specialists Mevalco provided Trabanco’s iconic sidra for a ‘throwing’ cider demonstration — a skill the teams will need to master prior to the final.
Assessment took place throughout the afternoon, ensuring that the judging panel, chaired by beer ambassador, Mitch Adams, of Borough Wines & Beers, had a full picture of each team’s capabilities. As well as checking out the teams’ understanding of beer and cider, their provenance and appeal, the final tasks assessed the teams’ abilities to engage customers with their knowledge.
While beer knowledge was strong with North Bar and Tappers Untapped throughout the semi-final, the Tappers’ greater knowledge of the brewing process and understanding of off-flavours saw them edge ahead in the early round, an advantage they retained until the end.
With marks allocated for blind tasting, fault identification and technical knowledge, prior to the test tasks, The Stable Cider Masters and Tappers Untapped were neck and neck, with The Ale Team just a point behind. Despite a strong performance from The Ale Team’s captain, Emma Jones, on several of the tasks, a flawless response from The Stable’s Beth Buckell May to the cider role-playing task — how do you interest someone who says they don’t like cider — enabled The Cider Masters to secure its place in the final.
The victors on July 4 will win an all-expenses trip to Sharp’s Brewery, in Rock, Cornwall, plus £500 spending cash. Sharp’s beer sommelier, Ed Hughes, will join Gabe Cook and Pete Brown as the expert judging panel at the final.