Summer Wine Brewery “Diablo” – Letchworth Festival Winner

The months do fly by! It was back in September last year that we held our successful 20th Letchworth Beer Festival, and here I am now posting a story about the beer-of-the-festival win from that festival while simultaneously thinking about beers for the Hitchin festival on March 9th & 10th.

"Diablo is our flagship IPA, loaded with US hop varieties, dominated by the 'Citra' variety. Huge tropical flavours & aromas punctuate, mango, lychee, and papaya fruits abound, with notes of resinous pine leading to a lasting bitterness. A devilishly good IPA."

By popular vote, the beer of the festival at Letchworth was Summer Wine Brewery Diablo – a strong & hoppy IPA, a style becoming increasingly popular (other well-known examples include: Thornbridge Jaipur IPA and BrewDog Punk IPA.) Summer Wine Brewery are quite new to the UK brewing scene, though already very well known amongst beer twitterers and bloggers.  They are also no stranger to controversy when it comes to CAMRA, as one of a new wave of breweries that are pushing the boundaries of the beer world they probably often find themselves in the firing line of the occaisional cask ale traditionalist.  There is a famous (in online beer circles) “altercation” with one Kevin, documented on their blog here: CAMRA – The Campaign for Real Alienation.  It makes for amusing reading, so long as you’re not too sensitive – it is worth reflecting on.

If you use Twitter you can follow SWB: @SWBrewery

I was a little worried that the brewery would simply refuse to accept the award, to make a point of some sort.  Luckily it seems that our two members, who headed up north back in November to present the certificate, weren’t put through the malt-mill never to be seen again, nor immediately ejected from the brewery.  The text below is their presentation report.

Regular readers may remember that Summer Wine Brewery’s Diablo IPA 6% was voted the Beer of the Festival at Letchworth in September. North Herts branch policy is to visit en masse, drink free beer at the brewery and then decamp to nearby recommended boozers to get stuck in to plenty more. Sounds good eh? Well this time it didn’t go quite to plan. Summer Wine are going through a never-ending growth in demand for their beers and couldn’t find time to accommodate us. However, a trip to the Yorkshire Motherland gave two of us an opportunity to sneak up while they weren’t looking and thrust the certificate into the Head Brewer’s hands. This was the brewery’s first ever BOF win so it was well received.

Head Brewer James Farran (left) is delighted to receive the certificate from some grinning idiot (right).
Head Brewer James Farran (left) is delighted to receive the certificate from some grinning idiot (right).

While there we had the 50p tour. Current production is on a six barrel plant which will be replaced with something much bigger sometime this year when suitable premises to put it in can be found. Most of the beer is bottled, some is cask and gasp some gets put into kegs… Bottles are now available to buy online if you’re interested. Summer Wine beers are not your typical brown Yorkshire Bitter; most have very complex malt recipes and more hops than you can shake a stick at. The bottles we took away with us were certainly an interesting bunch.

Afterwards we traditionally decamped to the nearby Nook in Holmfirth (round the back of Sid’s Café in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’) which also has a brewery in the back yard, and we got an impromptu tour of that too when we were caught pressing our faces to the windows for a better look. Two breweries in a day, can’t be bad!

Words: Graham Perry, Photo: Helen Perry

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