Beer writer, blogger and photographer Breandán Kearney was named Beer Writer of the Year 2015 at the British Guild of Beer Writers’ annual awards ceremony, staged yesterday (3 December) in London.
The Beer Writer of the Year title is the top award in the Guild’s annual competition for writing about beer and pubs, which this year received close to 150 entries and nominations across nine categories. Kearney, who hails from Ireland but lives in Belgium, lifted two category titles – for Best Young Beer Writer and Best Beer & Food Writer – on his way to the overall prize.
Robert Humphreys MBE, chairman of judges for this year’s competition, said, “We were impressed by the quality and variety of this year’s entries. All the judges, including those who’ve worked around brewing and pubs for many years, were excited by what they read and also learned something new.
“The best writing demonstrates passion, curiosity and originality, and there was no shortage of these qualities among the entries. We’re delighted to see beer writing in such good health and congratulate all our winners.”
Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC’s The Food Programme and one of this year’s judges, said, “Breandán’s articles were a joy to read; informative, entertaining, full of quirky facts and written in a flowing, accessible style. He also understands that it’s the people behind the beer that make for an interesting story.”
Humphreys added, “We’re pleased with response to the Best Beer Broadcaster category introduced this year to reward broadcast communicators on mainstream media channels. They play a vital role in taking beer out to a wider public.”
Humphreys and Dillon were joined on the judging panel by: Sarah Bridge, leisure correspondent at the Mail on Sunday: Toby Heasman, head brewer at Hall & Woodhouse; Nick Hewer, Countdown presenter and lately of The Apprentice and Larry Nelson, publisher of Brewers’ Guardian.
The Guild’s Brewer of the Year Award was presented to Jenn Merrick, head brewer at Beavertown Brewery in Hackney Wick, London where she oversees the production of five core beers including Gamma Ray and experiments every few weeks with a new beer – be it using new yeasts, barrel ageing or souring.
Guild chairman Tim Hampson said: “In the last 12 months Beavertown has transformed from a hip start up brewery into a brand that is becoming internationally recognised. This is in part due to Jenn Merrick’s brewing creativity, skill and persistence to always make better beer.
“Jenn has become an inspiration for many other brewers and she is a fantastic advocate for beer culture who has shown a great willingness to share her ideas, especially about slightly wild flavours.”
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 chef Andrew Bennett, with each dish accompanied by a beer selected by a handful of the Guild’s Beer Sommeliers and other beer and food experts.
Brewer of the Year: Jenn Merrick, Beavertown Brewery
There’s A Beer For That Award for Best Beer Broadcaster
Winner: Sarah Warman
Badger Ales Award for Best Young Beer Writer of the Year
Winner: Breandán Kearney
Silver Award: Daniel Tapper
Guild Award for Best Beer & Travel Writer
Winner: Des de Moor
Silver Award: Roger Protz & Adrian Tierney-Jones
Shepherd Neame Classic Collection Award for Best Beer & Food Writer
Silver Award: Melissa Cole
Guild Award for Best Beer Writer – Corporate Communications
Winner: Richard Taylor for BrewDog
Caledonian Brewery Award for Best Beer Communicator – Online
Winner: Pete Brown
Silver Award: Matthew Curtis
Fuller’s 1845 Award for Best Beer Writer – Trade Media
Winner: Jane Peyton
Silver Award: Robyn Black
Adnams Award for Best Beer Writer – Regional Media
Winner: Gavin Aitchison
Silver Award: Alastair Gilmour
Molson Coors Award for Best Beer Writer – National Media
Winner: Martyn Cornell
Silver Award: Tim Hampson
The Michael Jackson Gold Tankard for Beer Writer of the Year 2015: Breandán Kearney
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