Ribble Valley beer wins top food award

Nigel Haworth, chair of the Fine Food Awards judges with Sarah Baker of The Bowland Beer Company, Food NW Gold Heart Award winner.
Nigel Haworth, chair of the Fine Food Awards judges with Sarah Baker of The Bowland Beer Company, Food NW Gold Heart Award winner.

A BEER brewed in the Ribble Valley was one of just three winners of the top Food North West Gold Heart Award winners at this year’s Fine Food Awards.

“Admiral of the Blues”, brewed at Bashall Eaves by the Bowland Beer Company, shared the top honours with a Bowland Lamb Lancashire Hotpot Pasty by The Lancashire Pasty Company, in Blackburn, and a Vegan Mud Pie Cupcake by Rawtenstall-based Fantasy Cupcakes.

Two other Bowland Beers – Cromwell Stout and Headless Peg – also won Food NW Heart Awards at this year’s event, where the winners were announced by Nigel Haworth, chef patron of Northcote, at Langho, and a regular face on TV cookery shows.

Organised by Food NW, the awards recognise the best fine foods produced across the region, from cakes, cheeses, and chutneys, to bacon, bread and butter. This year’s awards saw nearly 400 products entered by 132 companies from across Lancashire, Cheshire Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. These were whittled down to just three Gold Heart winners and 106 Heart Award winers.

The Bowland Beer Company Ltd started life in 2003 when founder Richard Baker finished a contract working in the Falkland Islands and decided to follow his dream to set up a microbrewery producing the finest artisan beers.

His friend had just opened a farm shop in Bashall and was, by chance, looking for tenants – and the rest is history. New to the Northwest, having lived in every other area of the country while has father was in the army, he was keen to make a success of his new venture. Now, he has grown a successful, award-winning business and has made Lancashire his home.

His initial output of 650 pints per week has grown to 14,000 pints, the business producing hand-crafted real ales using the finest Maris Otter malted barley and full-flower hops. It now employs seven people, in what was once the milking parlour of Bashall Town Farm. Although most of the output goes into casks for pubs and restaurants throughout the North West, the company’s sales of bottles and mini-casks now account for almost a quarter of trade.

The company’s winning “Admiral of the Blues” has been developed over the past couple of years out of a desire to produce a premium cask ale that “would set the world alight”. First brewed for the International Beer festival at Colne, Richard decided to name the beer in honour of the local pub and namesake, Admiral Rodney, head of the “blue squadron”. With two of his other brews, Cromwell and Headless Peg, also winning awards, Richard commented: “I am delighted to be honoured in the Fine Food Awards which offer true competition as they are judged purely on quality and taste.

“It makes all the hours of work worthwhile. I want our beers to be so good that they don’t need selling – people will just keep coming back for more and the Fine Food Awards are great for spreading the word about what we are doing.”

“After eight years in Lancashire I consider myself very much a local and I am delighted that local people consider The Bowland Beer Company’s beers their own, and that we have become part of the local heritage.”