Guild of Beer Writers recognises talent with annual awards
Author Pete Brown has been named Beer Writer of the Year 2016 at the British Guild of Beer Writers’ annual awards ceremony, staged on 1 December in London. The Award represents a ‘hat trick’ for Brown, who also took the title in 2012 and 2009.
Beer Writer of the Year is the top award in the Guild’s annual competition for writing about beer and pubs, which this year received more than 150 entries across nine categories. Brown won two categories – for the best writing in trade press and in national media – on his way to the top prize.
Breandán Kearney, last year’s Beer Writer of the Year and chairman of judges for the 2016 competition, said, “The Awards recognise the UK’s most talented communicators about beer and pubs across a range of channels from books to blogs, press to podcasts. Judges had difficult decisions to make in choosing the finalists and winners from a field of high-quality entries.
“We’re delighted that prizes have been awarded not just to established beer writers, but to new, less-known communicators, as each entry is judged on its merits and its ability to further the Guild’s mission of extending public knowledge and appreciation of beer and pubs”.
He added, “Pete Brown is a worthy Beer Writer of the Year. Whatever he’s writing about, he is unfailingly authoritative, not just about beer or pubs, but the wider world in which they sit and the history that has shaped them. He has a talent for finding the most interesting nuggets in material, and spinning them to create stories that won’t just appeal to the already-converted, but which will pull in a broader audience.”
One of this year’s judges, Dave Myers, of Hairy Bikers fame, said, “There is some seriously good writing about beer and pubs out there and discovering it was a delight. The best writers combine a sure grasp of their subject matter with a talent for storytelling, so as a reader you want to taste the beer they’ve drunk, visit the pub they’ve been to or meet the brewer they’ve interviewed.
“Many of the winners and finalists are producing outstanding work that deserves to reach a wider audience and I hope that the added recognition from the Awards helps to secure this.”
Kearney and Myers were joined on the judging panel by: Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent at The Guardian: Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and Roger Ryman, head brewer at St Austell Brewery.
The Awards ceremony also saw the Guild’s Brewer of the Year title go to Richard Westwood, MD of Marston’s Brewing Company. Westwood has worked in the brewing industry for 40 years, rising from lab technician at Wolverhampton & Dudley to take the helm at the UK’s largest brewer of cask ales.
Presenting the Award, Guild chairman Tim Hampson said, “Richard is committed to producing classic beers such as Pedigree and Banks’s Mild, while retaining the traditions of the five breweries owned by Marston’s. In addition, he has encouraged the development of innovative new beers such as the company’s Revisionist and single hop ranges. He has worked in collaboration with other brewers and is constantly looking for new ways to ensure all beers are served as brewers want them to be served.
“But more than this, Richard cares about beer drinkers. He has empowered consumers by encouraging them to have a greater understanding of the importance of the ingredients of beer.”
The winners and runners up in each category were announced at the Guild’s annual dinner, this year held at the Park Lane Hotel on Piccadilly. More than 200 guests enjoyed a four-course dinner prepared by the hotel’s head chef Andrew Bennett, with each dish accompanied by a specially selected beer: Bad Seed Brewery’s Hefeweizen; Beavertown’s Black Betty IPA, Serpent from Thornbridge Brewery and Ampleforth Abbey’s Dubbel. Other beers from the Award’s sponsoring brewers were sampled before and after dinner.
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
Brewer of the Year: Richard Westwood, Marston’s
There’s A Beer For That Award for Best Beer Broadcaster
Winner: Radio 4’s The Food Programme
Silver Award: Lucy Stevenson and Louise Mulroy
Badger Ales Award for Best Young Beer Writer of the Year
Winner: Jacopo Mazzeo
Silver Award: Joshua Farrington
St Austell Brewery Award for Best Beer & Travel Writer
Winner: Mark Dredge
Silver Award: John Holl
Guild Award for Best Beer Writer – Corporate Communications
Winner: Carlsberg UK
Shepherd Neame Classic Collection Award for Best Beer & Food Writer
Winner: Mark Dredge
Silver Award: Adrian Tierney-Jones
Caledonian Brewery Award for Best Beer Communicator – Online
Winner: Jonny Garrett
Silver Award: Will Hawkes
Fuller’s 1845 Award for Best Beer Writer – Trade Media
Winner: Pete Brown
Silver Award: Nigel Huddleston
Adnams Award for Best Beer Writer – Regional Media
Winner: Alastair Gilmour
Silver Award: Susan & Judith Boyle
Molson Coors Award for Best Beer Writer – National Media
Winner: Pete Brown
Silver Award: Sophie Atherton
The Michael Jackson Gold Tankard for Beer Writer of the Year 2016: Pete Brown