Geordie brew is just the ticket for ale prize

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The Independent Online
It is a beer which may cause trouble for some, but it has brought success for two brothers from Tyneside.

Workie Ticket is a Geordie expression for troublemaker and that is the name the Fawson brothers gave the bitter which yesterday won the Champion- ship Beer of Britain prize at the Great British Beer Festival.

Matthew Fawson, a 23-year-old brewer with no formal training, runs the tiny Mordue brewery at Wallsend on Tyneside with his 34-year-old brother Gary.

They were originally homebrewers, but decided to turn professional just over two years ago when Matthew could not find a job after art school. Gary, also a graduate, was working as a railway signalman.

They were further encouraged in their profession when they discovered that their house had in the 1800s been a brewery, run by a man called Joseph Mordue - whose name they borrowed for their business.

Gary sold his car to help set up the business. Matthew spend five days studying brewing with a consultant.

Their brewery has three times won best of show at the Newcastle Beer Festival in a region where brewing has recently regained some of its past reputation. Matthew proclaimed himself "flabbergasted" to win the national event at Olympia in London. "I'll probably make some really good beer when I'm 40," he said.

Tasting Workie Ticket blindfold as a judge yesterday, I found it lively and grassy in its hop aroma; with a sweetish, malty, palate, and an appetising, nutty, dryness in the finish. It was so appetising that I inadvertently drank all of my half-pint tasting sample before writing down my critique and score. I had to ask for seconds for that purpose. Without a blindfold, two years earlier, I had in my own writing commended the same beer for its maltiness, nuttiness and balance.

The other judges, a long-established brewery owner, a brewing scientist, two drinks writers and an activist of the Campaign for Real Ale, all favoured Workie Ticket. There was also strong support for winner of the second prize, Bateman's Dark Mild, from an old-established brewery near Skegness, Lincolnshire. Third was the Best Bitter of another newish brewery, Boson's founded in 1993 in Worcestershire.

There were also awards for a bottled beer, Hop Back Summer Lightning, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, and a lager, Schiehallion, from Dollar, Scotland.

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