North Devon beer crowned best in the South West

Joseph Bulmer

Hartland brewer produces second champion ale just three years after learning how to make beer

A NORTH Devon brewer has carted home another barrel-full of awards from a regional beer competition – less than three years after brewing his first beer.

Dave Lang, of the Forge Brewery in Hartland, was crowned overall champion for the second year in a row at the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) South West Region Beer Competition.

Judges at the Tucker’s Maltings Festival in Newton Abbott described Handsome as an “extremely well-balanced” beer. In a competition that featured more than 250 regional beers, last year’s winner, Litehouse, came third overall. Both Forge beers scooped gold in their respective Strong Bitters and Best Bitters categories.

The news follows Litehouse’s silver medal-winning triumph in SIBA’s national best bitter competition last month.

Dave, who runs the Forge Brewery with wife Liz, only began brewing in September 2008 after being taught how to make beer by a friend.

“You could say it’s beginner’s luck but we’ve won the South West competition for the second time in two years so we must be doing something right,” he said.

“I haven’t done any courses or anything like that; I just bought a brewery and stated brewing. A mate of mine showed me what to do so I suppose the success is down to him really.”

Dave and Liz brew four times a week but say that their success has meant that demand is outstripping supply.

“We can’t keep up,” said Dave. “As soon as we make it, it’s gone but at least that means it’s always fresh.

“We currently brew to capacity – around 6,600 litres – but are hoping to double that in the next couple of weeks.”

Readers wanting to sample a pint might get lucky at The Anchor in Hartland; The White Hart in Bideford, The Royal Exchange in Torrington; The Thatched Inn at Abbotsham; and The Hoops Inn at Bucks Cross.

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