Holy Smoke! I won a Beer Writers award!


Wow. I mean seriously. WOW. I won an award. Not just any old award.  A GOLD award at the most prestigious annual gatherings of beer writers in Britain. For that I am overwhelmingly honoured. And humbled.

The 2011 British Guild of Beer Writers dinner and awards ceremony took place at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London, our dining room overlooking the Thames. You might find it hard to believe there’s such a guild, but it’s so important to have an organisation like this. It was set up in 1988 to help spread the word and improve the general standards of beer writing. Now the Guild has over 150 members.

The event brought together more than 230 people rings together people who write about beer for a living, who write for national newspapers, regional newspapers and magazines, who write books and who, like me, write about beer for fun, cos they love beer with a passion and truly believe in the beauty of beer.

This year’s judges for the seven categories of awards for beer writing were: Simon Jenkins, winner of the 2010 Beer Writer of the Year title; Fiona Matthias, executive editor of The Sunday Telegraph; Martin Ross, journalist, writer and home brewer; Martin Kellaway, founder of Wharfebank Brewery in Leeds and Joanna Copestick, who has commissioned and published a number of books about beer.

To be in a room of 230-plus stunningly talented people, many of whom I’m so proud to call my friends, was breathtaking. And also to be in a room with representatives from some of Britain’s finest breweries (who served beer at the pre-dinner drinks reception), sponsored the various awards categories, pub operators and others who support the beer & pub industry in a myriad of amazing ways was a true privilege.

The Hubz and I were mega impressed by the drinks reception – Molson Coors, Adnam’s, Thwaites, Shepheard Neame to name a few offering a little libation with some delicious canapés. You can guess where we made a beeline for first, right?

Getting up close & personal with some ESB. Of course.


The Hubz and his fave brew

And thanks to Fuller’s who kindly asked us to sit on their table. A fabulous time was had by all. I heart Head Brewer, John Keeling. Then again, so does The Hubz.

John Keeling and The Hubz bonding over beer

Of course, our dinner wasn’t just any old awards dinner. Each course of food was matched to a different beer, each one carefully thought-through by several Guild members (SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE FOOD AND BEER pics!).

The beer list and tasting notes


And after the dinner, last year’s winner of the Beer Writer of the Year, Simon Jenkins, took to the stage and announced the winners of each categories. I know Simon was a little nervous before getting up on stage to do the daunting task of presenting, but I also knew he’d rise to the challenge well and he didn’t show nerves when he was up there. In fact he was mega cool and did a wicked job.

This year’s Beer Writer of the Year was the gorgeous, funny and incredibly talented Ben McFarland. I first met him a couple of months ago when he was judging the Sainsbury’s great British Beer Hunt. He’s so lovely, seriously cute and hilarious. Click HERE to have a listen to Ben chatting to me after he collected his award.

Ben McFarland & Simon Jenkins (Pic courtesy of Response Source)

So I won the Best Writing in Regional Media (which also allowed Broadcast TV and/or Radio). The award was sponsored by the fabulous Adnams and I was handed my award by Head Brewer Fergus Fitzgerald, who I’ve had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting and spending some incredible time with at the Adnams brewery and distillery in Suffolk earlier this year. Cheers to everyone who whooped and hollered in congratulations for me too. It was an awesome experience. Thanks to all the judges who deemed my TV feature to be a worthy Gold winner. I can’t thank Adnams enough for sponsoring the category that I won and donating such a generous prize. I’ll treasure my Silver Tankard till the end of my days!! It’s now pride of place on the mantelpiece in my living room.

I’ve listed all the winners and Special mentions (those who were in close contention for Silver awards, I got a Special Mention last year for the Best Online category!) below. And attached is the link to the Beer Writers Guild press release of all the detail.

Brewer of the Year 2011 – Evin O’Riordain, Kernel Brewery. Evin and his team are as cool as. Making stunning beers, one of which was matched to most tasty dish of the night (see pics below)

Budweiser Budvar John White Travel Bursary – prize £1,000 plus trip to Czech Republic . Winner: Des de Moor (BTW Des reckons he and I blew the Clap-o-Meter wide open when we each won! Lol); Special Mention for my new chum, the super-talented Mark Fletcher who writes Real Ale Reviews.

Shepherd Neame 1698 Award for Beer and Food Writing – prize £1,000. Winner: Mark Dredge;  Special Mention went to another lovely new mate of mine, Jerry Barlett.

Thwaites Award for Best Corporate Communications – prize £1,000. Winner: Pete Brown

Brains SA Gold Award for Best Use of Online Media – £1,000 & £500. Winner: Martyn Cornell (gutted he wasn’t there so I could meet him but he works abroad!); Silver Award: Mark Charlwood

Adnams Award for Best Writing in Regional Media – prize £1,000 & £500. Winner: Marverine Cole (ME!!!); Silver Award: Gavin Aitchison; Special Mention to my darling friend, Sophie Atherton

Fuller’s ESB Award for Best Writing for the Beer and Pub Trade – prize £1,000 & £500 . Winner: Ben McFarland , who writes Dwink.com with Tom; Silver Award: Glynn Davis

Molson Coors Award for Best Writing in National Media – prize £1,000 & £500 Winner: Adrian Tierney-Jones; Silver Award: Will Hawkes

The Michael Jackson Gold Award – Beer Writer of the Year 2011: Ben McFarland 



The Hubz and I had an amazing time, met some wonderful people!

The Hubz (Austen Duffy), Mark Dredge and Mark Fletcher


Sophie Atkins (journalist), Ann Wedgwood (Hardknott Brewery) and me!


Cheers to you all who sent congrats on Twitter and Facebook – you KNOW who you are. I read them all and was bowled over by your love 😉

Here’s a reminder of what I won for: the BBC Inside Out feature I researched, produced and directed last year about the importance of women to the beer industry. Have another look if you’ve not seen it. It features Pete Brown and many more fab industry peeps.

Plus here are lots of pics of the FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD from the night (apologies for all the dark shots, iPhone 3GS with no flash. I gotta gets me an upgrade!) I totally forgot to take a pic of the 1st course with the Kelham Island Pale Rider – OOPS! But here are our other 3 courses!

Scallop, crab and mushroom soup dumplings with Wadworth Orange Peel Beer 6% (from their Best Bitter range)



Baby chicken, foie gras mousse, vegetable parcels with Kernel Pale Ale (5.7% ABV)


Passionfruit cheesecake with Brewdog's Alice Porter (6.2% ABV)



6 Responses to Holy Smoke! I won a Beer Writers award!

  1. Simon Jenkins says:

    Lovely post, great pictures.

    I can tell by the way you have written this and the way you were on the evening, that you were as genuinely pleased and surprised and kind of overwhelmed to win as I was last year.

    I may now longer be Beer Writer of The Year, but I am now, apparantly “mega cool”, something I have always aspired to but have never before achieved.

    Have a great year, gorgeous.


  2. Ella says:

    many congratulations Marverine! You so deserved this award as you clearly love what you’re doing and it’s something totally unique! Enjoy! :) xx

  3. Jennifer says:

    Wow, congratulations! How exciting. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling to be acknowledged by the peers you respect for work you love doing, isn’t it? What a lovely pre-Christmas present for you. :)

  4. I’m sorry I wasn’t there too, Marverine. Never mind, we will meet one day. Meantime, I note three out of the 11 winners had the initials MC – well done us!

  5. Frances Brace says:

    Brilliant, and a humongous, really well deserved achievement! you are doing an amazing job of changing the image of beer – for the better. And a great blog – your warm and lovely personality shines through. Hearty congratulations Marv! xx

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