Record prize haul for brewery

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A brewery in Giltbrook has broken records after scooping the two top awards at a beer competition held at one of the world’s biggest beer festivals.

Blue Monkey walked away with gold and silver in the Champion Cask Ale category at the Midlands regional heats of thebeer of the year competition hosted at Nottingham Beer Festival last weekend.

The brewery got five gold awards and three silvers altogether – more than any other brewery in the history of the competition – fighting off competition from 68 breweries from across the Midlands selling 420 beers.

Blue Monkey director John Hickling said: “To get first and second place overall against 420 beers is a real tribute to the quality of beer that our brewers are putting out.

“I’m so, so proud of what our team has achieved.

“No brewery in the history of the competition has ever won so many medals in one go, and this year there was even more competition to deal with.”

The beer ‘Big Blue’ won gold in the Overall Champion Cask Ale category and ‘Strong Ape Ale’ won silver.

Blue Monkey also won gold in the Overall Champion Bottled Beer category for ‘Ape Ale’.

The competition is run by SIBA – the Society of Independent Breweries – and sees the beers being blind-tasted by a panel of 113 judges who pick their favourites.

As winner of SIBA Champion Beer of the Midlands, Blue Monkey will go on to battle it out against other regional winners at the national finals in February next year.

MP Anna Soubry said “I’m an unashamed fan of Blue Monkey. The brewery which I visited this summer provides jobs in the constituency, Blue Monkey is also reinventing the great British pub and their beers are outstanding.

“I am a proud consumer of Blue Monkey beers and whilst not surprised they have won gold at the festival am amazed at the number awards they have won”.

Blue Monkey has won awards at the Nottingham Beer Festival for the last three years running – every year they have entered.

The brewery started in a tiny unit in Ilkeston, but outgrew it within a year and moved to a warehouse in Giltbrook.

Mr Hickling, 38, put the success of the brewery down to a ‘booming’ real ale industry, and the appeal to the younger generation.

He now has a shop selling beer at his brewery on the industrial estate in Gilt Way as well as two pubs, one in Nottingham and one in Loughborough.