The London beer scene reached a tipping point last night as pretty much every award at the British Guild of Beer Writers dinner was scooped by a London based journalist or beer writer.
After a marvellous beer matched dinner the evening started its nod towards the Capital when it was announced that Evin O'Riordain from Kernel Brewery was named the Beer Writers, Brewer of the Year. Evin launched his brewery in the railway arches of Bermondsey about two years ago and has never looked back, picking up award after award. His bottled IPAs, stouts and porters are unbeatable and the recognition is well deserved.
A few moments later, as Des de Moor picked up the next award for his London's Best Beer, Pubs and Bars Guide, it was becoming clear that it was going to be a night for London and I was on my feet leading a chorus of "maybe it's because I'm a Londoner !"
Those around me might say I was not leading a chorus, merely shouting incoherently like a drunk on the tube. I couldn't comment. Suffice to say my delight was becoming boisterous
There quickly followed prizes for Mark Dredge for his work on beer and food, the corporate communications award went to honorary cockney, Pete Brown, Mark Charlwood (sp ?) won silver in the on-line category for his beerbirrabier blog and the gold was scooped by Martyn Cornell, London's eminent beer historian. Glynn Davis won an award for trade press and the Beer Writer of the Year was once again, Ben McFarland.
A clean sweep for London !
(Not quite true as Marverine Cole took a gong for regional work and Adrian Tierney Jones took a prize for his work on national newspaper reviews. I hope they will both allow me to gloss over their achievements as I relish the fact that London is back.)
Only a couple of years ago, the London beer scene was on its knees. Our breweries were closing, flats were replacing pubs and cities like Derby and Sheffield were leading the vanguard of the microbrewery and craft beer scene. Beer lovers in London were forlorn and the rest of the nation was puzzled as we took comfort in championing each new micro that opened. Every one was a winner, Sambrook's, Redemption, Kernel, Camden Town et al. Every one well received.
A few pubs started changing, Cask, Craft, Rake, Southampton, Butcher. I don't have to name them all. Each and every one becoming a destination boozer.
My latest list of London brewpubs, micros, craft and family brewers now numbers 28 operating or coming very soon.
The London beer scene is back and vibrant and I am chuffed as punch !
(Apologies if I have any of the names or awards incorrect, or if I have missed anybody. My delight for London was only matched by my love for the great beers provided by the sponsors, Molson Coors, Fullers, Adnams, Brains, Thwaites, Shepherd Neame and Budweiser. My recollection and random notes are not 100% clear)
Thanks also to Black Sheep Brewery who invited me to the event as their guest and for their warming Black Sheep Imperial Russian Stout which was supposed to be taken home but never got beyond the coffee - delicious.