Not an easy headline to understand so here’s the explanation. Congratulations to Dave Lang of the Forge Brewery in Hartland, for his recent success at the Society for Independent Brewer’s 2011 UK Champion Beer Awards.

The winners of the regional heats were all submitted in their relevant categories through to the national final. The Forge Brewery Lighthouse Ale won the gold medal in the Best Bitter 4.1 to 4.5% abv for the South West Region, plus Champion beer across all categories for the show. Quite incredible for a brewery built by Dave himself by hand 3 years ago in an old shed at the back of his house.

Well he had repeated success at the national finals with the Silver Medal in the same category – the 2nd best Best Bitter in the whole of the UK! Bowland Brewery from Clitheroe took the Gold Medal in this category with their Admiral Bitter, which also took the Silver Medal for overall champion, with the Gold Medal going to a mild from Cotswold Spring Brewery. Congratulations to both of them.

Why are we focussing on the Forge brewery rather than either of these two? Simply because the Forge is a one man operation, not an established company with staff and state of the art equipment. Dave even designed and built his own refrigeration system and cask washer equipment. He does everything himself by hand, working flat out seven days a week. This is just such a remarkable achievement from one man passionate about producing a quality product through sheer hard physical work and dedication – something we have always championed in the wine world. To go up against every other brewer in the UK  including multi million pound operations such as St Austell, J W Lees, Robinsons, Shepherd Neame…..(the list is endless) and win the silver medal, is just fantastic. Dave’s beers are all natural too. Unlike the big operators Dave doesn’t add artificial preservatives to his beer, so hangovers are also rare – I know, I drank 10 pints of Hartland Blonde in one sitting and awoke as fresh as a daisy!

The bad news though is his beer was very difficult to get hold of outside the North Devon area as he simply couldn’t keep up with demand. Now with this award, it’s going to be more in demand than ever. If you’re lucky enough to pass through the area this summer keep an eye out as his beers are in the majority of the best pubs in the area. The Lighthouse is well worth a try if you get chance (obviously) but so are his other beers, and he already has other medal winners too.

Check out his website for more details.