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The judges for the 2024 British Guild of Beer Writers Awards

2024 Judges

We are thrilled to announce the distinguished panel of judges for the 2024 Awards. This year’s panel promises to uphold the highest standards of independence, fairness, and expertise in evaluating the finest writing and communication in the beer and cider industry. With last year’s Beer Writer of the Year, David Jesudason, chairing the panel, the judging process ensures a new leader is recognised each year.

The 2024 Judging Panel

The judges for the 2024 British Guild of Beer Writers Awards

Ross Clarke – Travel, Food & Wine Writer + Editor

Ross is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in travel, food and wine. He’s written for a wide variety of titles, including the BBC, National Geographic Traveller Food, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Evening Standard, iPaper, and Vittles. He specialises in Spanish and Welsh food and drink culture and publishes a regular newsletter all about Welsh food and drink called The Welsh Kitchen. Ross is also a lecturer on the MA Magazine Journalism course at Cardiff University.


Rosalind Erskine – Food & Drink Editor – The Scotsman Podcast Host

Rosalind Erskine has been working at The Scotsman since 2017 and is the Editor of Food and Drink.  She covers all things food and drink – from chatting to chefs and local producers to writing about whisky news and covering the latest restaurant and bar openings. As well as this, Rosalind also hosts Scran, the Scotsman’s multi-award-winning food and drink podcast. Rosalind has a weekly feature and column in The Scotsman and is the restaurant reviewer for the Scotland on Sunday.


David Jesudason – Journalist Current British Beer Writer of the Year

David Jesudason has been a British-Asian journalist since 2004. He was named Beer Writer of the Year at the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards in 2023. His book, Desi Pubs, also won Best Book about Beer or Pubs and has been called “one of the most exciting books about beer and pubs in recent years.” He has a newsletter called Episodes of My Pub Life.


Nicky Kong – Owner – The Cat in The Glass • Pommelier

Nicky Kong is the owner of The Cat in the Glass, an online bottleshop specialising in craft beer and cider. As a qualified pommelier, Nicky brings expert knowledge and a refined palate to the world of cider. She is also the founder of Manchester Cider Club, where she champions cider and perry by hosting and attending various events. Through guided tastings, engaging talks and informative panels, Nicky is dedicated to advocating for and elevating the appreciation of fine cider and perry. 

Her expertise and passion have earned her prestigious accolades in her previous role as a pub manager in Manchester, including CAMRA Pub of the Year 2019 and CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year 2020.  Nicky has also recently been cited as “the most important person in the world of aspirational British cider” (Adam Wells, Cider Review).


Garrett Oliver – Brewmaster – Brooklyn Brewery • Author

Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, author of The Brewmaster’s Table, and Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer. He received the James Beard Foundation Award in 2014 for “Outstanding Beer, Wine, or Spirit Professional.” A founding board member of Slow Food USA and a former Board of Counselors member for Slow Food International, Garrett has hosted over a thousand beer dinners in 17 countries, promoting beer as the ultimate beverage for culinary pairings. Joining The Brooklyn Brewery in 1994, his beers have earned numerous awards, and he has judged prestigious beer competitions globally, including the Great American Beer Festival and the Great British Beer Festival.

Garrett has shared his expertise through tastings and talks at cultural institutions like The Smithsonian, National Geographic, and the American Museum of Natural History. His influential book, The Brewmaster’s Table, won a 2004 International Association of Culinary Professionals Book Award. His later work, The Oxford Companion to Beer, is acclaimed as the most comprehensive book on beer, earning accolades from the New York Times and Amazon. 


Sir Geoff Palmer – Professor Emeritus, School of Life Sciences – Heriot-Watt University

Sir Geoff Palmer, KT OBE CD is a distinguished academic, pioneering researcher, and human rights activist. As Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, his groundbreaking work in grain science includes the discovery of the barley abrasion process and significant contributions to brewing technology. Palmer was the first black professor in Scotland and has received numerous accolades, including the American Society of Brewing Chemists Award of Distinction and a knighthood in the 2014 New Year Honours.

Beyond academia, Palmer is a dedicated advocate for racial diversity and inclusion, earning the Edinburgh Award in 2022 and Scotland’s highest royal honour, the Order of the Thistle, in 2024. Appointed Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in 2021, he continues to promote research and education across its global campuses. His career reflects his commitment to scientific excellence, educational leadership, and social justice, making him a respected figure both in academia and the broader community.


Helen Anne Smith – Co-Editor – Burum Collective

Helen Anne Smith is a drinks and hospitality professional based in South Wales. They are also the founder and co-editor of Burum Collective, a volunteer-led drinks publication and platform.

Helen is passionate about drinks education, with qualifications in beer, cider, and wine. In 2023 they were awarded CAMRA Campaigner of the Year, for their work towards helping to improve the beer and hospitality industry, focussing on workers’ rights, inclusivity, and accessible education. They were shortlisted for Young Beer Writer of the Year at the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards in 2021.


Melissa Thompson – Food Writer Live Fire Cook

Melissa Thompson is an award-winning food writer and live fire cook. Her debut cookbook, Motherland, was published in September 2022 and explores the evolution of Jamaican food, from the island’s indigenous population to today alongside the recipes. She has penned powerful articles on the British food industry that became focal points for important discussions around identity, diversity and inclusivity. She has won the Guild of Food Writers’ Food Writing award and was named PPA’s Food Writer of the Year. She is a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, is a columnist for BBC Good Food magazine and a regular recipe writer for The Guardian.


Natalya Watson – Author • Podcast Host • WSET Beer Educator

Natalya Watson (aka @beerwithnat) is an award-winning beer educator, Beer Sommelier, and Advanced Cicerone® passionate about sharing her knowledge of beer with others because she believes that beer is simply too delicious to remain undiscovered. She’s the founder of Virtual Beer School, host of the Beer with Nat podcast, and author of Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles. 

In September 2023, Natalya joined WSET as Business Development Manager to support the launch of the organisation’s new beer courses and qualifications. She’s a WSET-certified beer educator, holds her WSET Level 2 Award in Beer, and teaches both levels of beer qualifications at WSET School London.


Georgina Young – Brewing Director – St Austell Brewery Current Brewer of the Year

Georgina Young’s passion for brewing ignited during her student years at King’s College London, where she studied Biotechnology, followed by a master’s degree in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. In April 1999, she joined Fuller’s as a Production Brewer, where she played a key role in expanding fermentation capacity and developing new beers. After a brief stint as a science teacher, she returned to Fuller’s in 2013 as Brewing and Packaging Manager, eventually becoming Head Brewer in 2017.

In May 2019, Young joined St Austell Brewery as Head Brewer for Bath Ales, where she optimised brewing and bottling facilities and increased fermentation capacity. Promoted to Brewing Director in July 2020, she oversees both breweries and has introduced new products. Young has served as Chairman of the Southern Section of the IBD, a Director of Cask Marque, and is a member of the Worshipful Company of Brewers. She is dedicated to training and development in the industry, contributing to the Brewing Apprenticeship program and serving on the Advisory Board for the Brewing School at Heriot-Watt University.

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For more information about the judging process and criteria, click here.