VICARS in Oxfordshire who are brewing their own beers will go head-to-head to see who can create the most blessed of pints.

The seven clergymen have snapped up home brew kits and have been fermenting their entries for five weeks for the Witney Beer Festival.

Their efforts will be judged by Witney Round Table organisers on Saturday.

Chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford, the Rev Graham Sykes, is one of the seven in the running.

And fellow competitor the Rev Toby Wright, of St Mary’s Church in Witney, has named his beer Rector’s Tipple.

The 38-year-old said: “My respect for people who brew professionally has increased a lot.

“I have been keeping my brew in a utility room, so the occasional waft of beer coming through the house has not best-pleased my wife, Sally.

“There were a few points along the way where you have to move things and change equipment and that was a bit nerve-wracking sometimes.

“But I’ve had great fun and I’ve not seen any of my competition yet, so I’m looking forward to that.”

The challenge was issued by the organisers of the Witney Beer Festival, which is now in its third year.

The Rev Wright, dad to Caspar, five, and two-year-old Felicity, said: “Jesus said the kingdom of God is like yeast, with faith fermenting in the community and growing.

“The beer festival is also good because it draws people into the church who have never been there before.

“I have had some very profound discussions in the past with punters and I look forward to more this year.”

Organiser James Mills, of Witney Round Table, said the members of the church had all taken up the challenge enthusiastically.

He said: “They all really wanted to take it on, we have been very impressed – it is great for the festival to have them involved.

“During the festival we are also going to put on a session that will explain the best ways to home brew and we will have some experts there.”

The Witney Beer Festival takes place on Saturday in St Mary’s Church, Witney, from noon to 10pm.

The winner of the brewing competition will be announced in the evening.

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