The Brewing Industry International Awards are back. They were last held in 2005, but are happening again on 9th – 11th February 2011 in Burton on Trent, hopefully in the new National Brewing Centre (grand opening tonight – I’ll be there!).
These awards are notable in that brewers are judged only by their peers – other brewers. Pundits and hacks like me don’t get a look in. (This led to a fantastically entertaining meltdown by a certain beer writing legend when the Guild of Beer Writers discussed at the first AGM I ever went to. As I said at the time, it was worth the price of joining the Guild on its own.)
Anyway, there’s lots of stuff here about categories, judging and all that. In the gap since these awards were last held, the World Beer Cup has become pre-eminent in this field. The BIIA are joining to give them a run for their money once more from now on.
But what interests me most is not yet official news, but was revealed yesterday by Ruth Evans, CEO of BFBi, which runs the BIIA (OK, that’s enough acronyms for one blog post), at a conference we were both speaking at. Ruth said that at the end of the competition, there are approximately 10,000 pints of beer left. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if, instead of pouring this beer down the drain, they had an international beer festival? As Ruth points out, it wouldn’t be like a CAMRA beer festival – it would incorporate the best beers from around the world, of all styles, and there would be plenty of brewers on hand to talk about them. And if this festival were held in the National Brewery Centre… well, talk about putting Burton back on the beer map.
Ruth stressed that nothing is definite yet – discussions are ongoing. But if this came of, it would fill the gap left by the extremely premature demise of Beer Exposed after just one fantastic event in 2008. It would be a phenomenal event for everyone involved in the global beer industry, and could be the start of something much bigger, giving Burton a new role on the global beer stage.
I urge everyone connected with the National Brewing Centre to play nicely on this, and any potential sponsor or media partner to jump in. Let’s make this happen.