Edinburgh student develops Waitrose’s winning craft beer

Home Brew Challenge 2016 winner is Heriot Watt student Phil Sisson 

A Brewing & Distilling student at Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University has developed a winning home brew that’s set to launch in selected Waitrose stores from mid November.
Phil Sisson, 40, who left a 20-year music industry career to study an MSc, is the brains behind Raindrops on Roses – the winner of the Home Brew Challenge 2016 developed in partnership by Waitrose and craft beer experts at Bakewell-based Thornbridge Brewery.
His Belgian-style wheat beer, which was created in a shed in Glasgow, is the first rose petal infused beer the supermarket has ever sold and is inspired by Sisson’s eight-year-old daughter, who is a big fan of The Sound of Music.
Sisson, who started home brewing five years ago while working as a recording studio manager in east London, said: “This is a huge, and completely unexpected honour for me! I’m absolutely flabbergasted. I’ve been a big admirer of Thornbridge’s beers for years and it’s just fantastic to have been able to impress the judges with my own creation. I originally brewed the beer as a present for my wife’s birthday and my daughter chose the musicial-themed name, so it’s a truly family affair. I’m really looking forward to seeing it on the shelves at Waitrose.”
More than 200 people from all over the UK submitted their home-brewed entries for this year’s Home Brew Challenge. Sisson’s entry was chosen by an expert panel of judges including Sarah Hammond, Waitrose beer buyer, and Alex Buchanan from Thornbridge.
Hammond said: “We loved the fact that we could distinguish the traditional style of beer that it’s based on, and that it came with a really modern and well-judged twist. The palate was refreshing and full of flavour, and all the elements were really well-balanced – distinct yet not overpowering. A great combination of delicacy, interest and full of flavour, this is an excellent homebrew that we hope our customers will enjoy as much as we did.”
Thornbridge’s head brewer, Rob Lovatt, said: “Phil’s beer was undoubtedly well made with the roses working in a beautiful harmony with the camomile and coriander. It is a worthy winner from a great selection of beers that were submitted to the competition, which goes from strength to strength each year. I enjoyed tasting Raindrops on Roses and working with Phil to recreate his beer on a larger scale and I am sure it will be very popular”.
This is the third year Waitrose is supporting the Home Brew Challenge competition. The popularity of craft beer has risen significantly in recent years, with sales increasing by 35% in the last twelve months.
Raindrops on Roses, 330ml, will be available in 70 Waitrose branches from 14 November.


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