Judges Greg Wells, Jenn Merrick, Ben Freeman and Dan Sylvester
Following a UK-wide hunt to find the rising stars of the UK craft beer scene, organisers of London Craft Beer Festival, have announced the four winning breweries: Burnt Mill, Boxcar, Unity Brewing Co and West X Three.
The top four — all of which have been in commercial production for less than two years — had their beers independently tasted by an expert panel and selected from more than 40 entries from across the UK.
The upcoming brewers will now showcase their beers to an audience of 17,000 festival-goers alongside the likes of BrewDog and Beavertown at the UK’s biggest series of craft beer festivals — London Craft Beer Festival, Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival and Bristol Craft Beer Festival.
The panel included: Jenn Merrick, former Beavertown head brewer and founder of new community-based brewery, Earth Station; Ben Freeman, co-founder and brewer at Pressure Drop; Jonny Garrett, from the Craft Beer Channel; and co-founders of We Are Beer, Greg Wells and Dan Sylvester.
With entries being judged on flavour, quality and ambition, the panel made the following comments about the winning line-up.
Boxcar: Lovely New England India pale ale beers. For such a young brewery and so small at present, they’re really hitting the modern trend at a very high level. One to watch for sure!
Burnt Mill: Exuding class and not even a year old. Really well-balanced hoppy beers, and maybe one of the most innovative beers in Steel Cut Gluten Free.
Unity Brew Co: Their saisons are very good and arguably the beer of the competition. Wonderfully well-crafted beers, fusing Belgian influences with modern tastes.
West X Three: Hugely ambitious flavour combinations on sour beers — they really excited and surprised the judges.
Craft beer journey
Greg Wells, co-founder of We Are Beer, which is organiser of the Bristol, Edinburgh and London Craft Beer Festivals, said: “When we began our craft beer journey, many of the now established breweries — such as BrewDog and Beavertown — were also starting theirs.
“With the right support and exposure, it goes to show how up-and-coming brewers can go on to become the next wave of UK craft beer.
“Our festivals in London, Edinburgh and Bristol bring together the best craft breweries in the world, and we’re excited to have created a platform via Raise The Bar that enables these rising stars to share space with the rock stars of the craft beer world.”
In a new addition to the London Craft Beer Festival, this year’s Raise The Bar sessions will take place at the Friday trade session, from 11.30am until 4.30pm. Talks from industry leaders and experts will take place on everything from branding to recipe development and production. These talks are aimed at helping new and upcoming brewers to enter the market, and presented in association with Wired magazine and Original Gravity.
London, Edinburgh and Bristol are set to host the biggest series of Craft Beer Festivals in the UK, taking their unique brand of world class music, incredible food and headline music acts across the country, with Edinburgh kicking things off first over the bank holiday weekend in May.
Attracting more than 125 world-class brewers from around the UK, Europe and US, festival-goers will have the chance to try hundreds of beers, including new-to-market brews, cult classics and festival specials.
The Craft Beer Festivals will be returning for the sixth time in London, the third time in Bristol and second time in Edinburgh. Dates and locations are:
- Edinburgh, May 25-27, Biscuit Factory, Leith
- London, August 3-5, Tobacco Dock, Docklands
- Bristol, September 14-16, The Amphitheatre
Tickets for the festivals are on sale at: