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Over 3,500 pints of beer have been supped and savoured by nearly 2,000 real ale aficionados in a weekend celebration of all that’s best in British brewing at Nottingham’s Canalhouse pub. The event, which followed a national beer quality competition organised there on Thursday 12 February 2009 by the Society of Independent Brewers, saw the UK’s top 55 real ales available on hand pump in a single location for the first time in the city.

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Once the private judging had taken place, Canalhouse manager, Yvette Storey, and her colleagues were able to offer all that the judges had sampled to everyone with a passion for one of Britain’s favourite tastes. “Hosting the competition and then allowing everyone three days to taste what’s best in British beer has been an honour for us and for everyone in Nottingham with a feeling for tradition, taste, and quality,” says Yvette. “I have nothing but praise for the SIBA organisers, the brewers who had already won at their regional SIBA competition, and customers who, I feel sure, will long remember this special weekend.

“It’s interesting that first to go were local ales including Screech Owl and Jaipur IPA. With them in the favourites was Purple Moose brewery’s Snowdonia Ale. Now we have to wait to see if the public’s preferences match those of the judges.”

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The "senior service" - managers and assistants from across the Castle Rock group preparing to serve the judges for the SIBA competition (l-r Sarah Houghton, Vat and Fiddle; Natasha Averre, Stratford Haven; John Francis, Bread and Bitter; Yvette Storey, manager and host at the Canalhouse and her assistant manager, Jez Hand; and Charlie Blomeley, Kean's Head.

Lancaster Brewery. All smiles at the bar as Matt Jackson (left), managing director, Lancaster Brewery, checks all's well with Lancaster Black, his award winner at the Canalhouse. Pouring the 4.6% dark ale, a finalist in the strong milds, old ales and stouts category, is Canalhouse assistant manager, Simon Mace, and Lancaster's head brewer, Will Pammenter.

Lancaster Brewery. All smiles at the bar as Matt Jackson (left), managing director, Lancaster Brewery, checks all's well with Lancaster Black, his award winner at the Canalhouse. Pouring the 4.6% dark ale, a finalist in the strong milds, old ales and stouts category, is Canalhouse assistant manager, Simon Mace, and Lancaster's head brewer, Will Pammenter.

Kevin Mitchell tests with his trusty thermometer

Kevin Mitchell tests with his trusty thermometer

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder  - Tim Rourke, a beer writer and lecturer.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Tim Rourke, a beer writer and lecturer.

	 Included in the judging process were (l-r) Nottingham CAMRA's Andy Ludlow, John Heppell MP, John Calverley; Tim Pollard, Nottingham's official Robin Hood, Chris Garratt, Warminster Maltings, and CAMRA's national research and information manager, Iain Loe at one of seven judging tables set up for the SIBA competition.

Included in the judging process were (l-r) Nottingham CAMRA's Andy Ludlow, John Heppell MP, John Calverley; Tim Pollard, Nottingham's official Robin Hood, Chris Garratt, Warminster Maltings, and CAMRA's national research and information manager, Iain Loe at one of seven judging tables set up for the SIBA competition.