Now I understand why those nice people at Brains Brewery wanted to invite me to be on their table at the British Guild of Beer Writers’ annual dinner and awards last night. They knew – which I, of course, didn’t – that I’d won the “Best Use of Online Media” award, perhaps better described as “beer blogger of the year”, which Brains sponsored.
Alas, the need to earn a living kept me 6,000 miles away from the dinner, so I never found out until checking Twitter this morning, to see what people were saying about the event, that I’d won the online category. Thank you, Zak Avery, for letting me know. And very well done to all the other victors, especially Marverine Cole and Des de Moor, both first-time category winners, and Ben McFarland, who picked up his third Beer Writer of the Year tankard, a feat which puts him on a par with Michael Jackson and Allan McLean as a three-times winner, and makes him easily the most successful writer in the awards in the past 10 years. Only Alistair Gilmour has won more golds overall, and his first one came in 1998.
I was actually hoping for a runners-up mug – seriously, I’ve never won one of those, and I genuinely didn’t fancy my chances in the online category over-much, so I’d ruled myself out as a category winner: there are currently a large number of VERY good beer blogs from UK operators, all much more accessible than my 2,000 to 4,000-word rants and essays, I thought. Evidently the judges this year disagreed. Yay!
That was the particularly good news of the week: but there was excellent news from earlier, too. I love the British Library: it keeps making my life as a beer historian easier and more rewarding. You may have seen the announcement that thousands of old newspapers from 1700 to 1949, from the holdings of the British Newspaper Library at Colindale (a subsidiary of the BL at St Pancras), have now been scanned and put on line. Suddenly, from my own computer, and while supping a Mackeson XXX (brewed in Trinidad – more on that another time) I can seek answers to all sorts of interesting questions.
Such as? Well, were they really drinking pale ale in London early in the reign of George I? Why yes: here’s a tragic story from the Ipswich Journal of 18 September 18, 1725: Continue reading