The British Guild of Beer Writers celebrated 25 years of activity with a party at Fuller’s Parcel Yard pub in King’s Cross on August 12, which featured specially brewed beers from many of the Guild’s corporate members.
The organisation was formed in 1988, after the UK’s two leading beer writers Roger Protz and Michael Jackson met over a pint and bemoaned what seemed to them to be a media blackout on the coverage of beer.
‘Michael grumbled that he was better known in Belgium and the United States than he was in his own country,’ recalls Protz. ‘At the time, the Guardian employed not one but two wine writers and would occasionally, once or twice a year at most, run pieces by Michael or myself. The rest was silence.’
Jackson, who died in 2007 and was famously known as the Beerhunter, went on to become the first chairman, while Protz served from 2000 to 2003.
The Guild now has a membership of over 220, including well-known journalists plus popular and prolific beer bloggers.
Meanwhile the amount of books written by members runs into many hundreds and includes such best sellers as Shakespeare’s Local, 300 Beers To Drink Before You Die and the Little Book of Beer Knowledge. Members have also (and continue to) write for every national paper and many regional ones, as well as consumer and trade magazines, at home and abroad.
With these millions of words, the Guild’s commentators have helped shift the public perception of beer during its existence: writers have celebrated regional differences, enlivened the debate over beer styles; promoted beer and food matching; grasped at and developed a new language to describe beer and supported the vibrant and emergent craft beer scene all the while being a general force for the important place that beer has in Britain’s culture and life.
Current chairman is Tim Hampson, who was also a founding member. He said: ‘Beer touches just about every corner of our lives: from the farm to the glass the production and consumption of beer is something that most people have an opinion of. And that is why beer writing matters.’
For more information on the British Guild of Beer Writers contact the Secretary Adrian Tierney-Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01398 324314.
Photo: Assorted members celebrating with Guild members Marverine Cole (l), Roger Protz, current chairman Tim Hampson and MP and Minister for Communities and Local Government Brandon Lewis
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