SIBA competitions chair, Guy Sheppard (centre), with Sam Cordon, of Drygate (left) and Craig Steven, of Sinclair Breweries


Sinclair Breweries and Drygate have been named the best independent craft brewers in Scotland at SIBA’s Independent Beer Awards.

Sinclair’s Orkney Dark Island Reserve — a barrel-aged 10% ABV imperial stout, with rich chocolate and whisky-like flavours, took home the overall gold in the cask competition, while Drygate’s 6% ABV milk stout, Orinoco, claimed gold in the bottle and can competition.

SIBA competitions committee chair, Guy Sheppard, said: “The Scottish independent beer awards name the very best craft beers in the country, and the standard of entries in 2018 was some of the best we have ever seen.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and, in particular, our overall golds, who fought off tough competition to be named the very best of the best.”


‘Fantastic achievement’


Sinclair Breweries’ commercial manager, Craig Steven, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and we’re delighted to get the recognition for the hard work that goes into making this beer.

“It’s a really delicious, complex beer, but what makes it so special we think is the balance of flavours that has been achieved. It’s very refined, not too bitter, not too sweet, and surprisingly easy drinking for the strength. We’re delighted.”

Taking gold in the cask dark beers (up to 4.4% ABV) section of the competition was Orkney’s Red MacGregor, while its Raven Ale secured the top spot in the bottle / can bitter (up to 4.4% ABV) category. Raven also took a bronze in the cask bitter section. Skull Splitter won a silver in cask strong beers (6.5% ABV and over).

Brewery owner, Norman Sinclair, said: “With the Reserve, we create a stronger bespoke brew of Dark Island, which after a long and gentle fermentation is finished in oak casks that once held mature Scotch malt whisky.  We believe it to be a genuine best in class in this style, something that’s been recognised by no less than seven
gold medals in just over a year at various competitions.

“This latest success is hugely welcome, and we’re extremely proud that this premium product continues to fly the flag so well for Orkney.”

Drygate’s operations director, Sam Cordon, said: “It means a huge amount to win this award. It’s the second time we’ve won with this stout and it shows how well it’s received by brewers and beer drinkers.

“This beer is as complex as it is accessible — it’s got coffee, chocolate, vanilla and some roasted bitterness — so people who aren’t usually into dark beers love it as it tastes a lot like an espresso Martini, which everybody loves. It’s on the bar right now in the Taproom and we even have a peanut butter version for people to try!”


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