Highland Brewing Co takes top award

• Fiona MacEachern of Loch Lomond Brewery receives award from SIBA trustee Tuggy Delap.
• Fiona MacEachern of Loch Lomond Brewery receives award from SIBA trustee Tuggy Delap.

Host of producers recognised in Scottish competition

ORKNEY’S Highland Brewing Company has triumphed at what’s been described as Scotland’s “most fiercely fought beer contest”.
The brewery, which was set up nine years ago, took the gold Overall Champion Beer award for its 3.9% ABV Island Hopping beer at the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Scotland Region Beer Competition, held at Glasgow’s Drygate brewery earlier this month.
It’s the third consecutive year that one of Highland’s beers has claimed the top title – Island Hopping also took the top spot last year and, in 2012, its Pale Ale came out on top.
Island Hopping will now go forward to be judged against beers from across the UK at the SIBA BeerX contest in Sheffield in 2015.
Highland Brewing Co also took a silver award for its 4.7% ABV Pale Ale; silver for Duke IPA (5.2% ABV) in the strong bitter category; and bronze for its 6% ABV Orkney Blast in the premium strong bitter category; its 9% ABV Orkney Porter took gold in the bottled porters, milds, stouts and old ales class and then silver in the Champion bottled ales.
Rob Hill, founder of Highland Brewing Co, said success at the SIBA competition underpins plans to expand the brewery further next year; he intends to up production capacity by 300% and launch new branding to highlight the brewery’s awards.
“We are going into 2015 with our usual cautious optimism, but knowing that our beers are confirmed once more as some of the best cask and bottled ales in Scotland, if not the world,” said Hill.
Other winners in SIBA’s Scottish competition, which saw a panel of 46 judges assess 101 cask and 64 bottled beers across 14 categories, included Loch Lomond Brewery, which took two gold awards in the bottled bitter and best bitter categories with its Bravehop Amber and Southern Summit brews; Loch Ness Brewery, which took a gold award, as well as the overall bronze award, for its 5% ABV HoppyNESS beer, while its MildNESS and DarkNESS beers also took category medals.
Black Wolf Brewery’s Gold Digger won gold in the bottled gold beers category; Fyne Ales took gold with its Sublime Stout in the premium strong beer category; Cairngorm Brewing Company won the porters, stouts, old ales and strong milds category with its Black Gold beer; Tryst Brewery’s Double Chocolate Porter clinched the top prize in the speciality beers category; and Harviestoun Brewery scooped two gold awards in the champion bottled beers and bottled bitter categories.
Edinburgh-based brewery Barney’s Beer picked up a gold award in the bottled speciality beers category for its Red Rye beer.