The new categories will include various strength bands for increasingly popular India Pale Ales (IPAs), as well as a Sour and Spontaneously-fermented beer category, more commonly associated with Belgian brewers but becoming much more common in the UK.
The organisation, which represents around 830 independent craft brewers across the UK, has introduced the new categories to better align with the way in which beer is now consumed, and the increasing proliferation of hazy New England style IPAs and tart, sour beers in the style of Belgian brews.
These beers, previously the preserve of specialist craft beer bars, are now commonplace in pubs and supermarkets across the UK, as consumers demand a greater variety of styles.
“The British beer market is unrecognisable from 10 years ago, with thousands of independent British brewers now producing some of the most exciting, full-flavoured beers I’ve ever tasted – in a range of styles greater than we have ever seen before,” said SIBA competitions chairman Guy Sheppard.
“While British bitters and traditional porters remain hugely popular, and an important part of our brewing heritage, it’s important for us to recognise the diversity of styles now being brewed in the UK – from hazy, aromatic American style New England IPAs to wild and spontaneously fermented sour beers in the style of the Belgian lambic brewers.”
The SIBA Independent Beer Awards start again with the SIBA south-west competition in April, after the 2017 awards culminated earlier this month with the national finals at Liverpool. Somewhat aptly, it was a bold, aromatic, hazy IPA – Transmission from North Brewing Co – that took the overall Gold in the Keg competition.
Brewers Association adopts NEIPA
The awards take place in eight regions around the UK; Scotland, North East, North West, Midlands, East of England, Wales & West, South East, and South West. The South West awards will take place the Maltings Beer Festival in Newton Abbot, Devon, from 19-21 April.
Following that the next competitions will be Wales & West on the 11 May at Ludlow Castle, before the London and the South East competition in Tonbridge on the 6 July.
The news follows the announcement earlier this month by the US Brewers Association that it would be including New England IPA in its 2018 beer style guidelines.
The official styles, newly named in the organisation’s guidelines and BA competitions, are 'Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale', 'Juicy or Hazy IPA' and 'Juicy or Hazy Double IPA'.