| Beer, Beer Books, Beer Writing, Books, British Guild of Beer Writers, Journalism, The Pub: A Cultural Institution

Beer Writer of the Year

On Thursday night the British Guild of Beer Writers named me their Beer Writer of the Year, for the third time.


I even bought a suit.

It caps an incredible year for me and I’m obviously delighted. But I still wouldn’t recommend three simultaneous book contracts to anyone, and won’t be repeating this trick any time soon.

I won two categories before picking up the overall award. First was Best Writing in Trade Media, for my columns in the Morning Advertiser. Luck always plays a big part in any success, and I think this year I was particularly lucky to have some great stories fall into my lap. The rediscovery by Carlsberg of the earliest generation of modern brewing yeast, and their successful attempt to ‘re-brew’ with it, was a unique event. And my chance to interview the man who invented nitro dispense – the technology that makes Guinness so distinctive and is now being explored by forward-thinking craft brewers – just weeks before his passing was something I’ll always remember. The research for my forthcoming book on beer ingredients also led me to some stories that I could write up as columns without taking anything away from the book.

In case you’re interested, here are links to the pieces wot won it:


I also won Best Writing in National Media mainly, I think, for my new book The Pub: A Cultural Institution (which is currently being sold insanely cheaply on Amazon), but I also entered pieces I’ve written for Ferment and Belgian Beer and Food magazines. I’m not the only decent writer in these excellent magazines – if you haven’t done so already, you should do yourself a favour and check them out.

As I said on the night, I owe the success of The Pub to Jo Copestick, a long-standing editor and publisher who specialise in food and drink and design, who has worked with and encouraged most good beer writers out there. We first spoke about the idea for The Pub ten years ago. She plays the long game, and she made this book finally happen. Even though it’s my name on the front I’m only a third of the team. People’s first reaction to it is that it’s a very beautiful book, and that is nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jo and designer Paul Palmer-Edwards at Grade Design. Sitting around the table with these two and being perfectionist about layout after layout was a wonderful working experience.

Having won these two categories, the judges then decided that overall, I was their Beer Writer of the Year.

It’s a trick of the order in which these awards are presented that my two awards were near the end of the evening. Earlier, it had looked like Mark Dredge was going to walk away with the big gong after sweeping Best Food and Drink Writing for his book, Cooking With Beer, and Best Beer and Travel Writing for his book The Best Beer in the World. I really hope this isn’t the start of a trend of publishing multiple books in a year because that way madness lies, but hearty congratulations to Mark for running me so close, and to the winners and runners-up in all the other categories.

Some of the stuff you hear around all awards ceremonies gets so repetitive it sounds platitudinous, but when you’re in the thick of it, phrases like ‘the standard was really high this year’ and ‘the quality of entries continues to improve’ get repeated because they are true. Having won this year, I’ll be chair of the judges next year. I’ve done this twice before. It’s always an interesting task, but the quality of work, often from writers I’ve never previously come across, scares me even as it delights me. No doubt this time next year, I’ll be here writing ‘the standard of entries was very high this year’ and ‘the judge’s decision was an extremely difficult one.’

I already know this will be true. As beer continues to excite greater numbers of people in all walks of life, many who fall in love with beer want to communicate their passion, and more and more of them are very good at it.

For a full list of winners in all categories, and comments from the judges, see the full press release here.




Dear "Shitehawk",

I'm not publishing your comment.

I'm sorry that you're so lonely you have to spend your Sunday afternoon posting abusive comments to people you obviously don't like. (Why not tell people you do like how much you enjoy their work instead?) But I'm happy to quote from your comment that you feel there's "Nowt like blowing your own trumpet is there ?" and that there's nothing particularly "interesting" in my post.

That's your opinion, and its a valid one. It's always difficult knowing how to talk about something like this and it's quite tricky to do without sounding like an arse. I think I have readers who would be interested and even happy to know about my success, but our culture looks down on people who are immodest. It's a fine balance. With that in mind, I'd urge you to actually go back and read the post, because if you did, you'd see that the whole thing is thanking and bigging up other people rather than talking about myself.

Bur the reason I'm not just publishing your comment is not because of what you said about me. It's because of your retrograde, neanderthal, twattish comments about other people in the picture who are not part of whatever quarrel you have with me. Believe me, by censoring your comments, I'm protecting you as much as them, because if I'd published it, you would have looked like a total fucking dickhead.

If you're the total fucking dickhead I think you are, I just want you to know that at the last event we were both at, people (not me) were worried and concerned about you, about your mental health. If you're a completely different dickhead, I apologise for the confusion and hope you find something better to do with your time real soon.


I was already interested in beer when I picked up Man walks into a Pub, but you helped take my interest to new heights and my appreciation has grown and grown.
After all you have had to go through in the past couple of years, including your "year of writing dangerously" (together with your back catalogue) this is very much deserved and you deserve to sit back and be appreciated.
Thanks again for all your hard work,


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