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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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What's new?
My next beer book is fully funded but there's still time to pledge! Click here for details.
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The 2016 Beer Marketing Awards are now open for entries! Find out more by clicking here.
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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Shakespeare's Real Local?

A tantalising new scrap of evidence about the bard's drinking habits has emerged.

The Tabard Inn, Borough High Street

When I wrote Shakespeare's Local I upset some readers because I failed to prove the contention in the title of the book - that William Shakespeare drank in the George Inn in Borough High Street.

At a time when most people were illiterate, very little got written down. Information about Shakespeare's life is so scant there's not even really any evidence of where he lived when he was in London, let alone where he enjoyed a pint. When I wrote the book, there was not one single mention of Shakespeare ever having been recorded as being in any pub, ever.

And yet we know he did live in London for many years, even if we don't know exactly where. And we know that unless he was a very unusual man for his time, if he lived in London he went to the pub in London. Because everyone did. Beer was safer to drink than water, and you had to go to the pub and get it. And if you wanted to sit back and relax with friends, there was nowhere else for most people to do that other than the pub.

In the absence of evidence, you can only make informed guesses - just because there's no proof of something doesn't mean it didn't happen, so you have to construct the most likely scenario based on the soundest possible assumptions.

My argument in the book was that Shakespeare definitely worked in Southwark, where the Globe Theatre was, so it's likely he lived close by - most historians believe he did. If he lived and worked in Southwark, he would have visited Southwark's pubs. We know he was aware of the White Hart pub on Borough High Street, because he set a scene in one of his plays there. The White Hart stood next to the George, so he must have been aware of the George too. The George and its immediate neighbours were the most famous pubs in London at the time, which we know thanks to the meticulous work of John Stow, a contemporary of Shakespeare's. It's thought Shakespeare lived in the area for ten years. If he was going to pubs most days, it's far more likely that he did drink in the George at least occasionally than that he didn't.

On this, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (and the 452nd anniversary of his birth) I would love to be able to announce that new evidence has come to light that Shakespeare really did drink in the George. But in all my research on the place, it never quite works out like that.

I was indebted to an American academic called Martha Carlin when I was writing my book. She's done more research on medieval Southwark than anyone else, and she recently contacted me to tell me that she's found the first and so far only record of someone claiming to see Shakespeare in a specific pub.

Of course, it's not the George. It's the George's next door neighbour. It always bloody is.

The White Hart stood to the left of the George on Borough High Street. Not only did Shakespeare write about it, Dickens used it as the location of a crucial scene in the Pickwick Papers. To the right of the George stood the Tabard. This was the inn which Chaucer used as the starting point for the Canterbury Tales. At the time he wrote those stories, he could have picked any of several inns lining Borough High Street. He could have chosen the George. Instead he chose its next door neighbour, immortalising the Tabard for ever as the birthplace of English literature.

The three greatest names in English letters, then, each of them associated strongly with the old inns of Borough High Street, each of them making their strongest link with the inns either side of the George.

Now, Martha writes, the words of an anonymous actuary writing in 1643 have been unearthed, describing “Some notes for my Perambulation in and round ye Citye of London for six miles and Remnants of divers worthie things and men”.

The author announces that his survey is intended “only to notice those places and things that have been passed by or littled [sic] mentiond [sic] by those greate Antiquaries that have written of this noble Citye and ye which places are fast ruining as the Tabard Inne and ye many houses of Priesthood old Monuments Halls Palaces and Houses of its greate Citizens and Lords and may be useful to searchers of Antiquitye in time to come.”

The Tabard Inn, like many of London's great landmarks, is by now falling into ruin - so we learn that the lamenting the passing of great pubs is nothing new.

When he gets to the Tabard, our anonymous correspondent writes, “Ye Tabard I find to have been ye resort Mastere Will Shakspear Sir Sander Duncombe Lawrence Fletcher Richard Burbage Ben Jonson and ye rest of their roystering associates in King Jameses time as in ye lange room they have cut their names on ye Pannels.”

So graffiting the pub was nothing new either! 

Unfortunately, Shakespeare's vandalism of the Tabard was lost when the inn burnt down along with the George and the White Hart, in the great fire of Southwark in 1676. All three were rebuilt the following year. The George is the only one that has survived until today. 

So the Tabard - already already famous as Chaucer's Local - now has a far better claim to be Shakespeare's Local than its neighbour. 

But thanks to this find, we now know that Shakespeare really did go to the pub in Borough High Street. Did he and his fellow 'roysterers' ever do a crawl of the great inns? Did he graffiti the George as well as the Tabard? Most likely, we'll never know. The idea of the group of players carving their names into the panels suggests, to me at any rate, that they were regular visitors who wanted to leave their mark. It makes perfect sense that Shakespeare would choose the Tabard because of its associations with Chaucer, placing himself in a great literary tradition. But did he only ever go to the Tabard, and never to the pub next door? I find that hard to believe. 

The point is, the George is the only one of those great inns to have survived the coming of the railways. The Tabard, as well as the White Hart, fell into ruin because they were up for sale for years and no one wanted to buy them. By the time the Tabard was finally demolished, it looked like this:

The Tabard, 1870s
The George was the only one of the great inns to escape this fate, the only one that's still there to write about and to visit. The main reason it did so was thanks to an extraordinary landlady who used every means at her disposal to keep it going as the inns either side were being pulled down - including telling outrageous lies and exaggerations about its associations with Dickens and Shakespeare to attract tourists and build fascination with this last survivor. 

Let's just say I make no apologies for having sympathy with her aim.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

When Michael met Stef and Martin

Trawling through old notebooks can yield unexpected treasures.



The new beer book I'm currently working on was initially inspired by a few experiences that I'd never properly written up and used.

Sometimes I'll visit a brewery or go to an event and I'm inspired by it, taking pages of notes, and I'll decide to write them up for one of my columns. A typical column is 700-800 words long, and while the column itself might be good, it only skates across the surface of the notes and observations I've made.

When I decided to write a book about hops, it was because I knew I had unused material that I'd gathered on a visit to the National Hop Collection in Kent, a jaunt to Slovenia to see the hop farms there, and a hazy account of Chmelfest, the hop blessing festival in the town of Zatec in the Czech Republic, home of the revered Saaz hop. I'd written up the National Hop Collection and Slovenia for short Publican's Morning Advertiser columns, but I'd never known quite what to do with the Chmelfest notes. That's where the idea for this book was born. About thirty seconds after deciding to use these three stories as the basis for a book about hops, I thought, 'Why just hops?' And What Are You Drinking? was born.

So now I'm deep into pulling the book together, writing up notes from trips over the last year and digging into my pile of old notebooks to find bits from over the last few years that also belong in this book.

I went to Chmelfest back in 2007, just as I was starting work on the first Cask Report and while I was trying to plan the sea voyage that would become my third book, Hops and Glory. So I dug into my pile of notebooks trying to find the one I'd been using in early 2007.

It turned out to be the same one I'd been using in late 2006 - number 6 in the stash of anally numbered notebooks I began when I first started travelling to write about beer. Chmelfest is about two thirds of the way through, and the notes are more intact and coherent than I have any right to expect. But near the front of the book, undated, is a short set of notes - just two pages - about a meeting between Michael Jackson and Stefano Cossi and Martin Dickie, who were then two young brewers at a new brewery called Thornbridge.

I remember this meeting taking place at the legendary White Horse pub in West London. I can't remember why I was there, why I'd been invited, but the two brewers were sitting against the wall with Michael facing them across a table. I was sitting two seats down, watching, not daring to join in.

I remember being inspired by Michael that night, and later feeling lucky that I was there. A year on from this meeting Michael would be dead and Martin would have left Thornbridge to start up BrewDog. Martin has spoken often about what an inspiration the meeting was to him. It's become part of BrewDog folklore, a key event in the origin story, which makes me feel weird that I'd been there as a silent observer.

The occasion was the launch of a new beer called Kipling. Michael thought it was interesting because it used a new hop called Nelson Sauvin which came from New Zealand, and no one had brewed in Britain using New Zealand hops before. (In my notes I wrote 'Nelson Sauverne', which is how it sounded when Martin said it.) Martin and Stef had encountered a sample of these hops and immediately ordered some in. They wanted to make a beer that celebrated their flavour, because they were already, according to my notes, 'bringing in obscure US hops' for beers like Jaipur.

In a demonstration of my stunning beer writing skills at the time, my tasting notes stretch to 'grapefruit in the finished beer.' I also wrote down 'Fills in the gaps that are left by the flavour spikes in spicy, deep-fried spring rolls.' I don't know if I wrote this because that's what the beer was paired with because I didn't write any more detail about what we were eating and drinking. I may have been quoting someone. (Does anyone really think spring rolls have flavour spikes?)

I'll spare you my clumsy notes about Thornbridge and my observations about its two young, moody brewers. The reason for sharing the reminiscence is the notes I made about Michael Jackson. I was paying more attention to him during the interview than I was to the two brewers.

I'm tempted to tidy up my notes and write them better. It's a rubbish piece of writing, embarrassing in parts, but I wanted to share the sentiments it contains, so here it is quoted as I wrote it, unvarnished by later experience or hindsight:

Michael going on - interesting enough stories. Meeting some of these people is a bit special. He's created this thing, still sees it w the novelty he genuinely discovered for the first time.

Gentle, warming method of questioning that draws the best out of his subject - "Why this beer?" "What did you think of the hop the first time you tasted it?"

It doesn't seem like much, written up. But this was an absolute inspiration to a fledgling beer writer. The obvious passion, undimmed after thirty-odd years. And the focus on the people, how they felt, making it about them and getting the best from them. I remember sitting there thinking, "THIS is how you do it."

I still think that. My own notes are better now.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Why I haven't been blogging much

A cautionary tale, with a happy ending. 

About two years ago I started getting shooting pains down my left leg. I went to the doctor about it and they said it was sciatica. Although the pain was in my leg, it was actually a result of nerves in my spine being irritated. "It'll go away eventually," said the doctor. "If it gets too bad, just take some painkillers. Exercise will help, as would losing a bit of weight."

Eventually the pain did go away, but every now and then it would return. In January 2015 it came back and didn't go away.

One morning at the end of January, I was in a hotel near Heathrow airport where I was attending a brewer's brand conference and workshop. I woke in quite extraordinary pain, the worst I've ever felt. I went from thinking "This is embarrassing. I hope there's no one next door who can hear me screaming," to thinking, "Actually, I hope there IS someone next door who can hear me screaming, and they call for help." I realised I was in quite a lot of trouble and decided to phone someone. My phone was six inches away from my grasp on the bedside table. It too me half an hour to reach it.

Very soon after I did, I was in the back of an ambulance greedily sucking down most of a canister of gas and air. When I got to the hospital they gave me liquid morphine. It took the edge off a bit, but I still couldn't move without yelling.

Two days later I was discharged with a pile of drugs including Tramadol and Diazepam. I spent the next three weeks feeling fucking wonderful in a kind of dissociated way.

It turned out I had two slipped discs at the base of my spine that were pushing against my spinal cord. I had to have an injection of steroids into my spinal column to sort it out. I'm fine now, but the pain is still there as suggestion, reminding me of my promise to lose weight, improve my posture, take regular exercise and build my core strength so it never comes back properly again.

I haven't yet kept that promise, mainly because of what I did when I was fucked and bombed on very strong drugs.

About a week after I stopped taking the drugs, the latest issue of the Publican's Morning Advertiser came through the door. As soon as I saw it I thought, "Shit! I was supposed to write my column for this week!" I briefly wondered why they hadn't chased me for it, before turning to the page where it usually runs to see what they'd done instead.

There was my column.

I had written and submitted it as usual, but had absolutely no memory of doing so. Technically it was a bit sloppy, but it was uncharacteristically warm and affectionate.

I later discovered that I'd written four different features while I was high. Four that I've been able to find, anyway.

I had also done something else that was really, really stupid.

My last narrative book, Shakespeare's Local, was very successful when it launched. It was picked up by BBC Radio 4 as their Book of the Week and read out by Tony Robinson, who made it much funnier than my writing is, and the book spent the week before Christmas sitting comfortably in Amazon's Top 100, outselling Hunger Games books and Downton Abbey tie-ins. It was easily the most successful book launch I've had to date. And it almost killed my book publishing career.

The issue was, it represented a transition point from my being a beer writer to being a mainstream, general non-fiction author. The publisher who had bought my first four books - and specifically, the man who had edited the last two - felt quite understandably that my next book should push me right into the bestseller lists, that I should be, if not the new Bill Bryson, then perhaps the next Stuart Maconie or Simon Garfield. I was very happy to agree.

The problem was coming up with an idea for a book that fit the bill.

I spent the next two years submitting ideas that were rejected. The usual response was along the lines of "Well, I'd read it like a shot, but I'm not sure it's going to sell beyond your current audience."

Mainstream publishing is changing and getting more difficult. There's no longer room for 'the midlist' - books like mine that sell OK and cover their costs but don't build and break out. My confidence began to plummet, until we reached the break-up conversation that goes along the lines of, "If you'd like to move on and see other people, that's OK with me."

I started pitching ideas to other people. I didn't have a clear strategy, I just knew I wanted to start work on another book. If writing books is what you do - and for me, everything else is filler that keeps me busy and pays the mortgage between books - whenever you finish one you're effectively unemployed until you sign a deal for the next one.

Did I want to carry on trying to crack a different, broader market? Or did I want to go back to writing about beer and pubs? Yes.

So I was having various different conversations with various different publishers about various different ideas when my back went and I got taken to hospital.

Then, during a particularly rotten, bleak and desolate comedown from the drugs that was every bit as miserable as the high was euphoric, I realised that I'd signed three different contracts, with three different publishers, to deliver three different books - all within the same timescale.

This was a really fucking stupid thing to do.

It normally takes me two to three years to write and research a book. Now, I had to write and research three in little over a year. And I had to break it to each publisher that while I was very happy about our new relationship, I was also seeing someone else.

This did not make for the kind of stress-free time I needed if I wanted to get happier and healthier. And so I haven't. But now, fourteen months later, I've just finished writing the second of the three books, and I've managed to delay the third one, which I've started writing up today. I've mentioned them all at various times here and there, but with the first two now out of the way and with their release dates confirmed, here's what's coming up.


The Pub: A Cultural Institution
Publication Date: 18th August 2016


For all I've written about pubs, I've never really done pub reviews. This book is one of those coffee table, picture-led affairs with lots of gorgeous photography of old inns, pubs signs and real ale casks. But I also wanted it to be much more than that.

The book contains reviews of 300 pubs across the UK. 250 of these are short, 80-word listings, but fifty of them are double-page spreads featuring longer essays. Rather than just say what beers are on or what the decor is like (information which would quickly go out of date and is better sourced from websites) I've tried to review each of these pubs on its atmosphere, which is, after all, the main reason we choose one pub over another.

It's much harder to do than reviewing the physical space or offering, and I don't quite succeed with every one of the fifty. But I've also tried to make each one a story about the many different reasons why pubs are so special: a couple focus on legendary publicans, some focus on the relationship between the pub and its environment, one celebrates the ritual of that coming-of-age moment many of us experienced in our first pub, another talks about the institution of the pub juke box. One is about a marriage proposal, while another sees a pub help sort out an old man who has been made temporarily homeless.

I'm now going through the inevitable phase of "Sounds good! Did you write about the Three Old Codgers in Little Frumpington? Whaaaaat? You've never been to the Codgers? You haven't lived, mate." If you know the best pub ever, it's probably not in here. But I promise you the 300 featured pubs are very good indeed.

Available for pre-order on Amazon - click the pic above for a link.


The Apple Orchard
Publication Date: 29th September 2016

When I wrote World's Best Cider with Bill Bradshaw, I spent a lot of time in orchards. I was moved by these beautiful places, enraptured by the customs and traditions around apple growing, and the people who kept them alive. I made loads of quite lyrical notes and observations, most of which never made it into the cider book because it wasn't that kind of book. So I decided I wanted to revisit the subject.

The result is a book that follows the apple year, from blossom time in spring through to wassail in January. It explores the cultural meaning of the apple as well as its practical value. Was the apple the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? Could it have been? Does it matter? If it wasn't, why do we think it was? Exploring questions like these was like pulling a loose thread that led me all over the place. There are ancient Pagan festivals, an appreciation of soil, discussions about GM, and quite a bit of morris dancing. It turned into a sort of affectionate tour of British life and customs, as well as an exploration of our relationship with food and where it comes from. It's possibly the best piece of writing I've done to date. It has nothing to do with beer, although quite a bit of cider is drunk.

I'm enormously chuffed that Penguin will be publishing The Apple Orchard under their 'Particular Books' imprint. We haven't quite sorted the cover yet, but it is already listed on Amazon and available for pre-order here.


What Are You Drinking?
Publication Date: TBC Spring 2017

I've already written quite a bit about my book on hops, barley, yeast and water because it's being published by Unbound, who use crowdfunding to cover the cost of publication, so I've had to flog the idea quite hard to potential subscribers.

The best thing about this is that by having to tell people about the book before I'd really done very much work on it, the process of funding changed the shape and scope of the book. Brewers, maltsters and hop growers have been in touch suggesting I visit them to learn more about what they do, and something that started life as quite a theoretical idea has become much more hands-on. I've picked hops in Kent, sat on a combine harvester as it reaps Maris Otter barley, watched speciality malts being made in Bamberg, seen hops being picked in farms in the Yakima Valley that are bigger than the entire British hop crop, visited the laboratory in Copenhagen where single strain brewing yeasts were first isolated and cultivated, drunk Burton well water straight from the ground and delivered fresh, green Galaxy hops to a brewery in Australia and dry-hopped a beer with them. It's been utterly amazing, and if I can only do justice to the incredible source material I've gathered, the book will be worth the wait.

We reached our crowdfunding target back in October, but you can still become a subscriber if you want. Subscribers get their name in the back of the book, get access to exclusive updates about how the book research and writing process is coming along, and will also get their copies a month or so before publication. If you're interested, here's the link.

Some people have been uncomfortable with the idea of a crowdfunded book. If you don't like the idea that's fine, because on publication the book will receive the same distribution as any book from a traditional publisher and you can buy it on Amazon or any good book shop.



I will be blogging more frequently again now, having got the first two books out of the way. Sorry the last little while on here has mainly been me trying to flog stuff. I'll be doing some actual beer blogging again very soon.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Beer Marketing Awards: New Awards Date, Deadline for Entries Extended


The second annual Beer Marketing Awards have been moved from 14th April, and will now take place in 8th September at the Boiler House, the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London E1.

The postponement follows some uncertainty about availability of the venue. Everyone who attended the first event in 2015 thought it was a perfect venue for such an event, but for that reason it's a very popular space, so we decided to do it later and do it as well as we possibly can.

This means that the deadline for entries - which was originally this week - has now been extended until 31st March. Entries have been coming in thick and fast, but if you were running out of time for yours, now you have time to give it an extra polish.

The idea behind the awards is to celebrate the promotion of beer across all channels. In today's communications landscape, effective marketing is no longer about who has the biggest budget - the strength of an idea can compete across various channels. Last year we had global, regional and microbrewers going head-to-head in some categories, and it was by no means assured that those with the biggest budget and external agencies won out.

After feedback last year, we have also introduced staggered entry fees based on the size of the brewery (or if you're an agency, the size of the brewery you work for), to make it mort affordable for small brewers to enter.

More details and entry forms are available at http://beermarketingawards.co.uk/.

Monday, 25 January 2016

If you think you're a pub and... (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling)


If you think you're a pub and you try to ‘up-sell’ someone by forcing your staff to ask ‘Would you like some crisps or nuts with that?’ every time someone orders a pint,

If you think you are solving the problem of bar staff motivation and retention by ‘empowering’ your zero hours, minimum wage, untrained staff simply by referring to them as ‘colleagues,’

If you advertise free WiFi but ‘free’ turns out to mean ‘free for 20 minutes and then you pay,’

If you pour a pint for a customer that foams over the sides of the glass so vigorously that you have to wash your hands after pouring it, but you expect your customer to pick up the soaking glass from its puddle, knowing their hands will get wet and sticky, but not giving a shit about that,

If you advertise ‘craft beers’ and offer Peroni or Amstel to those who ask for them,

If you refer to yourself as a ‘Beer House’[1], ‘bar and kitchen’, ‘cellar and eatery’, ‘Ale dispensary and hob’ or any other similar term because you think you’re better than a mere pub,

If you charge more than £5 for a pint of beer without being able to tell the customer why it costs that much,

If you think the brand is more important than the guv’nor,

If you have keypads on the doors to the toilets because you’re so paranoid about walk-ins using the loos without buying a drink that you’re prepared to humiliate your customers by making them come to the bar to ask for the code,

And if, the code secured, your customer opens the door to the bogs and reels back physically from the ammonia stench of stale urine burning their nostrils from urinals that haven’t been cleaned for days,

Then you don't have the first clue about what matters to the earth nor anything in it , and - which is more - you ain't no pub, my son!




[1] For example, in a train station such as London Waterloo or Paddington.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The British Beer and Pub Industry in 2016

Just before Christmas, The Publican's Morning Advertiser asked me for my predictions about the events that will shape the UK pub industry in 2016. They said I could be irreverent. This is a bit parochial if you're not close to the UK pub industry, but if you are, just call me Nostradamus...

After a slow start to the year, notable only for a combined team of scientists from CERN, MIT and NASA discovering the true definition of craft beer, things hot up when the AB-Inbev/SABMiller deal finally goes through. The new combined entity decides to cut to the chase and announces its purchase of the entire continent of Europe, with Carlos Brito declaring himself President. All beer apart from Stella Artois and Becks is immediately banned.

In a desperate move, BrewDog launches Equity for Punks X and raises $100 trillion for a hostile takeover. As President Brito is making his President’s Question Time debut in the House of Commons, James Watt and Martin Dickie drive a tank into the chamber and announce that the National Anthem will be replaced by the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen. The Daily Mail gets confused as to whether to launch a vicious smear campaign against BrewDog for being disrespectful and challenging authority, or Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to sing the punk anthem, and self-combusts.

Brito doesn’t go down without a fight and launches weapons of mass destruction inside parliament, but because they’ve been made with the cheapest ingredients possible, they don’t work properly. Chemical weapons hit the toilets, and from the green haze emerges the dishevelled figure of Greg Mulholland, wearing his underpants over his suit. Realising the chemical soup has at last given him the superpowers he craves, Mulholland dispatches Brito before laying waste to the nation’s PubCos, reducing them to rubble with his laser eyes and thunderous voice. Anti-PubCo campaigners continue to blame Punch and Enterprise for pub closures anyway.

Against the backdrop of a declining beer market overall, cask ale volume rises by 0.3%.




Friday, 18 December 2015

Beer Marketing Awards return for second year - call for entries



Last year I was part of a team that launched the first ever Beer Marketing Awards in the UK. The competition, and the event, was a great success, and the awards are now open for a second year.

There are two main ideas and ambitions behind the awards:
  • Rightly, there are a great many awards for beer quality. That's as it should be. But there's no point making great beer if no one knows about it. With 1700 breweries now in the UK, it's never been more important to make your beer stand out and let people know about it. At a time when some beer promotion is dodgy to say the least, we want to celebrate the best, and hopefully inspire the rest to do better.
  • Marketing is seen by some as the preserve of big brewers, but everyone does it in some way. What you call your beer, what you put in the label or pump clip, how you tell pubs about it, what you say about it on social media, all of it counts. These awards are not just about big budgets: our ambition last year was to have the world's biggest brewers competing with the UK's smallest on a level playing field. In categories such as social media and packaging, they did, and the gongs went to the best ideas rather than the biggest budgets. There's a category that suits any brewer of any size. We want this to be an event that could bring the whole industry together.
We've slightly rejigged and expanded the categories this year. Here's a full list:
  • BEST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN - PRINT
  • BEST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN - BROADCAST 
  • BEST ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS
  • BEST PUBLIC RELATIONS CAMPAIGN 
  • BEST BRANDING/DESIGN 
  • BEST USE OF COMPETITIONS 
  • BEST INTEGRATED CAMPAIGN 
  • BEST STUNT/GUERRILLA MARKETING 
  • BEST BUSINESS TO BUSINESS CAMPAIGN 
  • BEST INNOVATION 
  • BEST NEW LAUNCH 
  • BEST USE OF SPONSORSHIP 
  • BEST USE OF MERCHANDISE 
  • BEST EVENT 

And two special awards at the discretion of the judges:
  • OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT 
  • OVERALL WINNER: BEER MARKETER OF THE YEAR
You can see a bit more description of the categories here, and download an entry for for any of these categories here. If you'd like to see the spread of winners from last year, who represent all corners of the British brewing industry, check them out, and learn why they won, here.

One criticism we received about the awards last year is that we charge for entry. We appreciate that small brewers don't have much money to spend, but we're a small start-up too with no external financial backing, and we need to make the event cover its costs. We have to charge something, but this year we've introduced a staggered entry costs along the same lines that our friends at Craft Beer Rising use to charge exhibitors:
  • £60 (£50 + £10 VAT) for brewers under 5000 hectolitres
  • £144 (120 + £24 VAT) for brewers between 5000 hectolitres and 60,000 hectolitres
  • £180 (£150 + £30 VAT) for brewers over 60,000 hectolitres
We're delighted to welcome Boutique Beers by Matthew Clark back as our headline sponsor. If you're a brewer, client or supplier to the brewing industry who would be interested in sponsoring a category, drop me a line.

Entries are now open. The deadline for submitting them is 22nd February 2016. The Awards ceremony takes place in Brick Lane on 14th April 2016.

Good luck!