Wigan microbrewery scoops best cask award

Stuart Hurst celebrates his award-winning Porter
Stuart Hurst celebrates his award-winning Porter

Our beer expert Cameron Hale speaks to an award-winning brewer in town...

A Wigan microbrewery is the toast of the North West after a new ale was named the region’s best cask beer.

Hindley-based Hophurst took the spoils from the Manchester Brewers Challenge thanks to its milkshake porter “Porteresque”.

The 5.5% dark beverage was crowned by a panel of blind tasting judges as the favourite cask ale put forward by Greater Manchester and Manchester breweries for sampling.

Two beers were chosen from each category – bottled, keg and cask – with a best cask beer and best keg/keykeg selected, before the narrowing it down to a podium finish of three overall winners.

Porteresque was a double winner after coming second in the overall winners’ category, and this having only been first trialled last November.

Stuart Hurst, 42, is the director and head brewer at HopHurst Brewery, and was flabbergasted to learn of the victory from a passerby, having missed the announcements.

Mr Hurst, who brewed the beer himself said: “We had a stall there and I was chatting to people about our beers, and I didn’t hear the result.

“After a while a guy approached me and suddenly shook my hand and congratulated me.

“When I asked ‘what for?’ he told me we had won!

“It is fantastic because for a cask ale to come second to a keg is a big statement.

“As a small team it means that much more, especially because there are only two full-time brewers working here including me.

“This could likely change soon as I currently have an apprentice brewer in my ranks, who I am passing on my knowledge to in the hope of expanding our team!”

Entries were scored based on their aroma, taste, aftertaste and saleability by a mixed panel of brewers, publicans, beer-writers and CAMRA officials.

Tasting ensued prior to festival trade and a press session which took place on the day.

Mr Hurst will be presented with a certificate for this feat on Saturday March 9 at a Central Manchester CAMRA event.

This isn’t the first time that the brewery has made it to the finals of the prestigious challenge.

Last year, Mr Hurst entered The Cosmati golden ale with Mosaic American hops, which secured a place in the final six beers.

Despite not taking home gold, it is now part of Hophurt’s best-selling range of diverse ales.

The pioneering microbrewery now offer a unique service as the first social enterprise beer producer that re-skills and employs people over the age of 50 through their very own training programme.

Overall there were 30 breweries entered into the Brewers Challenge, which was run by Manchester Beer and Cider Festival and takes place annually.

For more information about Hophurst visit www.hophurstbrewery.co.uk