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History of The Guild

The Hop Museum in Poperinge, Belgium: The first foreign outing of the newly-formed British Guild of Beer Writers in 1988

The British Guild of Beer Writers was formed in 1988 to help spread the word about beers, brewing and pubs.

In 1987, founding members Iain Dobson said to Roger Protz in passing, “I see there’s a guild of wine writers — why isn’t there a guild of beer writers?” And, as Roger says, the proverbial light bulb clicked on.

Why was beer not the subject of thoughtful appreciation, like wine was? They knew a few folk who truly valued this historic and contemporary drink in its many forms and variations.

Roger was designated the role of sending out the invitations. Enthusiasts accepted and turned up at the Waterside Inn in King’s Cross late autumn. But the meeting was abandoned because of the live music. Their return to the Waterside later that year was a success. And the Guild’s first AGM was scheduled for February 1988 at the Horniman in Hay’s Wharf.

Michael Jackson was elected chair of the newly formed British Guild of Beer Writers. The committee – Jackson (Chair), Michael Hardman (Secretary), Iain Dobson (Treasurer), Mike Ripley, Peter Martin and Roger Protz – met regularly in the Calthorpe Arms in Gray’s Inn Road. It was agreed right from the get-go that there should be regular seminars to help educate members on matter brewing and beer. And there would also be annual awards.

The awards were to shout to a sceptical world that there was massive diversity and huge interest in beer and pubs. They were to recognise the talent and commitment of those pioneering souls who were making beer-writing into a true artform. They were to encourage journalists, authors and story-tellers to embrace the endlessly fascinating world of beer and pubs in their work.

The legacy of the IPA seminar the Guild held at the Barbican in London in 1994 lives on. Organised by Roger Protz and Mark Dorber, and supported by broadcaster Oz Clarke, brewer Garrett Oliver, and a whole host of eminent beer writers and brewers, it can lay claim to having kick-started the revival of IPA as a beer style.

That is just one of many memorable events and legacies. Just look at the work of the Beer Writers of the Year and category winners from our Annual Awards over the years, and you will see a load more bequests to the world of beer and pubs.

The Guild now numbers over 250 individual members. Between us, we generate millions of words and tens of thousands of images – appearing in publications, on air and on digital platforms that collectively reach tens of millions of people.

Among us are journalists, editors, broadcasters, researchers, market commentators, publishers, bloggers. and podcasters. We have illustrators and photographers, marketeers, public relations practitioners, public affairs experts, event specialists, trainers and beer judges.

Although most of our membership is based in the UK, we are proud to have in our ranks members from Greece, Spain, Belgium, USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and Brazil. We would welcome more representation from all corners of the world.

In short, we are key influencers, adhering to a code of conduct, and celebrating the amazing world of beer and pubs. And we’d love you to join us…

Interested in joining as an individual member? Find out more here or contact Guild Secretary Mike Hampshire.

Interested in joining as a corporate member? Find out more here or contact Guild Director Kate Oppenheim.

Find more on the Guild’s history from founding member Roger Protz here.