Sometimes by accident or imposition I watch some of the X Factor and the now, very similar, Masterchef. At some point in these programmes you encounter the inane interview with contestants who have to confirm to the producers that winning does indeed mean everything to them with varying degrees of conviction, hysteria and sincerity. The first time I saw one of these I asked myself what achievement would mean that much to me? Winning the rugby world cup would have been nice and a number one single for my band Snot Trof would have been an unlikely but welcome financial gain. The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group Brewer of the Year however has been my X Factor for as long as I have known of its existence. Yesterday I found out I had won.
When I started my training back in 1996 I read in The Brewer Magazine that the Head Brewer of Marston’s, Paul Bayley had won the Brewer of the Year. I used to drive 20 miles to buy nips of Owd Roger when I was 18 and Pedigree was my Geography teacher’s favourite beer. At the time I thought one day I would like to work for him bringing happiness to chubby 18 year olds and geography teachers. I never dreamt that in 15 years time I would be receiving the same award. I still can’t quite take it in (clichéd but true). Looking down the list of great brewers who have won the accolade before me I felt somewhat of an imposter. This award is another dream that working for Sharp’s has helped to realise and I owe a vast debt of thanks to the team at the brewery for making the beer and the business what it is today as well as tolerating me day in day out!
While I am about it I should thank all those who have helped make me the brewer I am. Jean-Marie Rock, Tony Skipper, Chris Evans, Peter Scholey, Jeff Drew, Martin Kelly, Andy Rolstone, Kevin Mitchell, Paul Corbett, Peter Simpson, Buster Grant and Ade Redgrove have all been a pleasure to work and trade with and have shaped my career by varying degrees. Thanks should go to the Beer Writers; the late Michael Jackson, Tim Webb, Roger Protz, Adrian Tierney-Jones and Jeff Evans for helping ignite the spark of beer love back in the mid ‘90s. Thanks also to all brewers around the world who make the beers that I love and continue to be an inspiration to me.
Before the event I was pleased enough to have my beer paired with the starter, I never imagined I’d be getting the award. To anyone who was at the dinner last night I apologise sincerely for my appallingly unBritish reaction to the award. Seeing a grown man cry is never pleasant, especially one as big and ugly as me. Trying to compose myself after I received my tankard was not made any easier by Dave Wickett receiving a very well deserved lifetime achievement award directly after. A very emotional moment. Seeing Dave and watching him accept his prize made the evening complete.