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Regulars in pubs across the East Midlands and Yorkshire have chosen Hop Back Brewery’s Summer Lightning as their favourite real ale for 2009. In a high turn out poll for the Castle Rock Beer of the Year competition, over 2,000 voters made the Salisbury brewed ale number one, with second place going to Black Sheep Best Bitter and third to Everards Tiger. It’s a move up for Summer Lightning, voted into second place in 2006 and 2007.

Colin Wilde, Castle Rock’s commercial director, says the results in this eleventh year of competition, were very tight. “It was a really close call with any one of a number of real ales in with a realistic shout at the title. Once again, we’re delighted our customers have shown they welcome good beers from all parts of the UK, give them a try, and consider them worthy of their vote. This is year’s choices show variety in alcohol strength, region of origin and style of beer. I think it shows our customers relish taste, appearance and quality above everything else.”

Voting in Castle Rock’s 20 pubs was conducted through the Autumn with regulars putting forward their favourites from many hundreds of real ales available through the year.

Hop Back’s managing director, David Law, says, “Castle Rock’s pubs have an outstanding reputation for providing discerning real ale drinkers with a choice of the best quality cask beers from across the country, and in the face of this strong competition we are enormously proud that Summer Lightning has been chosen by so many customers as their favourite beer.”

Colin Wilde says, “As this remains the only regional poll of its kind in the UK, it’s refreshing that interest in it gathers pace each year. More customers take part, more hopeful brewers attend the awards ceremony and more real ales are enjoyed. I’m always keen to make the point that all Castle Rock beers are excluded from the competition to remove any hint of in-house bias.”

The award ceremony was held at the Canalhouse on the city’s Canal Street on Tuesday 10 November 2009.

(l-r) Chris Holmes, chairman, Castle Rock Brewery toasts winners, Liz Wright and David Law of Hop Back Brewery for Summer Lightning; and runners up Allan Russell, Black Sheep Brewery; and Karen Watson, Everards.  Castle Rock's brewer of the year for outstanding choice and consistent quality, as chosen by Castle Rock staff, went to Elgood and Son, represented by Paul Marshall and head brewer, Alan Pateman (far right). Alan was formerly at Hardys and Hansons.

(l-r) Chris Holmes, chairman, Castle Rock Brewery toasts winners, Liz Wright and David Law of Hop Back Brewery for Summer Lightning; and runners up Allan Russell, Black Sheep Brewery; and Karen Watson, Everards. Castle Rock's brewer of the year for outstanding choice and consistent quality, as chosen by Castle Rock staff, went to Elgood and Son, represented by Paul Marshall and head brewer, Alan Pateman (far right). Alan was formerly at Hardys and Hansons.

Chris Holmes presents David Law and Liz Wright of Hop Back Brewery with the top award.

Chris Holmes presents David Law and Liz Wright of Hop Back Brewery with the top award.

Runner up, Black Sheep Brewery’s Allan Russell.

Runner up, Black Sheep Brewery’s Allan Russell.

Boty-09-Everards

The third place award presented to Karen Watson of Everards.

Staff from a host of Castle Rock pubs donned their pinnies to 'stand and serve'.

Staff from a host of Castle Rock pubs donned their pinnies to 'stand and serve'.