Cheers to that! Great Bardfield couple celebrate after brewery is hailed as second best beer producer in the UK

PUBLISHED: 10:54 14 August 2017

Nelion Ridley pours a glass of Ridley's Rite. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Nelion Ridley pours a glass of Ridley's Rite. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

A Great Bardfield couple are celebrating after their brewery was recognised for producing the second best beer in the UK.

Nelion Ridley at the brewery. Picture: SEANA HUGHESNelion Ridley at the brewery. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Nelion and Libby Ridley only started Bishop Nick, in Braintree, in 2011, but the firm has since left its mark on the industry by scooping the coveted Champion Beer of Britain award.

The business took silver in the hotly-contested ‘bitters’ category at Olympia’s Great British Beer Festival last week with its leading brand, Ridley’s Rite.

It later went on to win silver overall, making its 3.6% session bitter the second best beer in the country according to festival host Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Mr Ridley said: “It felt rather surreal. It was a bit of a surprise. There were eight different categories that the beers fall into, and ours was one beer in one category.

“When we won the first award we thought that’s great and relaxed, and then they announced the overall winners and we thought, what?”

Although the business has not yet seen its tenth birthday, Mr Ridley, who shares the firm with his wife, Libby, is no stranger to the world of brewing.

His family began brewing at the Hartford End site, near Felsted, in 1842 but sold up to Greene King in 2005.

Mr Ridley worked at the firm as a marketing manager, and even though he tried his hand at something else after the sale, knew he had to return.

After practising the art of brewing, Mr Ridley and his wife reignited the family profession.

He said: “I enjoy formulating recipes and seeing them come together. It’s satisfying to see how we did this from scratch and people spending their hard-earned money on enjoying it. It’s not a staple food, but something people choose as something nice to have.”

Asked the secret to their success, he added: “I think it’s doing the basics well. When I set this up I really wanted to concentrate on making the best beer I could. It was important to me to get recognition of good, consistent and quality beer.

“I was always taught that a good beer is when you get down to the bottom of your glass without realising it.”

The company has some 300 regional pubs on its books and produces a constant supply of three primary beers.

It also offers one or two other beers throughout the year, which can be seasonal or limited edition.

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