Great debate names the best of beers

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EXPERTS in ales debated which brews were best as one of the country’s largest beer festivals kicked off in Rotherham.

The town’s mayor Shaun Wright joined a blind tasting session during which a panel of beer buffs decided which would be named the ‘beers of the festival’.

After hours of sampling, the champion tipple was finally named as the Sheffield favourite, Abbeydale Brewery’s Moonshine ale.

More than 40,000 pints of beer will be sold as part of the four-day Rotherham Oakwood Beer Festival, which runs at the town’s Magna Centre until tomorrow night.

Around 230 different ales have been laid on for the event which includes music stages and a series of smaller rooms with a more intimate pub-style atmosphere.

Organiser Steve Burns said last year’s event raised £35,000 - a sum it was hoped to beat this year, with proceeds going to Weston Park Hospital, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, Rotherham Hospice and smaller Rotherham-based charities.

The festival will also see the launch of a new South Yorkshire website aimed at real ale brewers and enthusiasts.

The site, called Hand-Pumped, is now online and according to owners aims to showcase the work of Britain’s growing independent brewing industry.