The British Guild of Beer Writers is the world’s most prestigious set of awards for beer writing. More than £20,000 of prize money is given out to writers from around the globe for their articles and broadcasts about beer, cider and pubs.
There are around 18 categories each year, with the winners taking home £1,000 and runner-ups taking home £500. The awards are presented at a dinner party, held in late November or early December.
With so much at stake, the Guild board has made huge efforts to ensure the judging process is as independent, unbiased and fair as possible. This starts with the previous year’s winner chairing the panel, to ensure the same person doesn’t win year after year. The rest of the ten-strong judging panel is chosen by a company contracted to organise the awards, with approval of the final list from the elected Guild board. Efforts are made to get a broad range of experience, position and seniority with a heavy focus on judges outside the beer and cider industries. Judges are not allowed to enter the awards.
Once the judges are selected, entries open on the Guild website, usually around June. Entry is free to Guild members, while there is a fee for non-members, and entries close in August unless there is an extension. Entrants can enter as many categories as they like, with a maximum of four pieces per category. The categories and their criteria are listed below.
A judge shall be considered ineligible to consider in a category, and moved to another, if she or he:
- Is entered as a writer, editor or other contributor or creator in the category;
- Worked on staff, during the awards year, of a publication entered in the category;
- Is the subject of an article entered or has a close association with the writer or creator entered in the category;
- Is a regular contributor to a publication entered in the category.
For the first round of judging, judges are given three or four categories to examine with at least two judges on any one category. They are given around a month to choose a shortlist of six, at which point they meet with the other judges of those categories to decide a joint shortlist.
For the second round, all the judges read the work on each of the shortlists to find their personal winners and runner-ups. They then meet up to decide the definitive winners, runner-ups and an overall prize for the Beer Writer of the Year.
The shortlists are announced a few weeks before the Guild dinner, and the winners unveiled on the night during a ceremony.
The Categories & Criteria
With the incredible diversity in beer, brewing and pub culture, each category and each piece entered is judged on its own merits by the panel. However, a few themes always come up in the winners. It’s entirely up to the judges what wins, and no one can predict what will do well. But the winning entries tend to have certain shared qualities:
- Passion: If you’re not that interested in your subject, it’s doubtful you’ll persuade anyone else to be. In the best writing, the love of beer and pubs is obvious – and infectious.
- Originality: This is relative of course – the big themes in beer and pubs are written about year after year. But the awards reward fresh perspectives. Knowledge and authority about the subject might seem essential, but can be beaten by an inspiring cry from the heart from a new arrival to the world of beer.
- Clarity and readability: In order to communicate well, you need to communicate clearly. It helps enormously if you are clear, engaging and accessible to anyone who may read, watch or listen to your content.
The categories are reviewed annually by the Guild board according to their relevancy, feedback from the Guild and judges, and the number of entries. The ultimate aim is to offer all kinds of beer communicators the chance to be awarded for their work, as well as to fulfil the key aims of the Guild, which can be read here. In 2023 the categories and entry rules are as follows:
Best Commissioned Beer Writing
This award is for written (not audio/video/photography) work that has been commissioned by a publication such as a newspaper, magazine, or other publication in print or online, rather than self-published. The best entries both inform and entertain the reader about the chosen topic, while also being perfect for the publication and target audience.
Best Book about Beer or Pubs
This category recognises the vibrant beer and pub books sector and gives them their own platform. Submissions are welcome from authors, photographers and illustrators, and publishers can nominate one of their books. Self-published books should be entered into the Best Self-Published Beer Writing category. The best entries are iconic, utterly original works that add to the wealth of beer books already on the shelf.
Best Audio Beer Communication
This award seeks to recognise and reward the individual making the best use of audio media to communicate about beer and pubs. Open to podcasts, audio documentaries, radio programmes and other audio. The best entries combine technical delivery with entertainment, education and editorial that makes the most of the medium.
Best Video Beer Communication
This award seeks to recognise and reward the individual making the best use of video media to communicate about beer and pubs. Open to YouTube videos, TV programmes, films, and other video. The best entries combine technical delivery with entertainment, education and editorial that makes the most of the medium.
Best Communication about No and Low Alcohol Beer
This award rewards the best written, audio, video, or photography work about low and no alcohol beer, including press articles in trade or consumer-facing publications, blogs, radio or TV broadcasts, podcasts or any other communication that reports on this topic. The best entries take a fresh approach to this important and fast growing area of brewing and drinking.
Best Communication about Sustainability in Beer and Pubs
This award rewards the best written, audio, video, or photography work about sustainability in the beer and pubs sector. Submissions can be press articles in trade or consumer-facing publications, blogs, radio or TV broadcasts, podcasts or any other communication that reports on this topic. The best entries go beyond championing those who take sustainability seriously and put their achievements (or lack thereof) in the context of the wider industry and world.
Best Communication about Beer and Travel
We’re looking for written, audio, video, or photography work about beers and or/pubs and bars you’ve experienced while travelling, either abroad or in the UK. The best entries will have a strong sense of place and create a thirst for the beers enjoyed there.
Best Communication about Pubs
This award recognises the best written, audio, video, or photography work about the great British pub. Print or online articles, radio or TV broadcasts and podcasts can all be submitted. The best entries tell original tales of pubs, putting them in a wider context while making the reader want to visit one.
Best Newcomer to Beer Communication
This award is open to anyone who has been communicating (writing, audio, video, photography, PR, training, marketing, other) about beer (in a paid or unpaid capacity) for less than 2 years. Entries for this category can be written, audio or video. The best entries show a writer with fresh ideas, beautiful forms of communication and a passion for the topic.
Best Beer Business Communicator
To win this award, we’re looking for written, audio, video or photography work about the business of pubs or beer. Maybe it appears in trade titles aimed at licensees, restaurateurs, BWS buyers for supermarkets or bottle shop owners – or maybe it takes a look from outside. The best entries explain the complicated world of beer brewing, buying and selling simply, passionately and originally.
Best Self-Published Beer Writing
This award is for written (not audio/video/photography) work that has been self-published rather than commissioned, including books, blogs, social media posts, website pieces, etc. Blogs and websites will be judged on both the quality of the writing and the design – as both are important in enthusing readers. The best entries show a strong personal voice, great passion for the topic and originality in approach.
Best Citizen Beer Communicator
This award is open to anyone who has never communicated (writing, audio, video, photography, PR, social media, training, marketing, other) about beer in a professional capacity. Entries for this category can be written, audio or video. No fee is required to enter this category. The best entries transcend the lack of budget to become original and insightful pieces that compete with the commissioned category.
Best Communication About Cider
This award is open to written, audio, video or photography work about cider and cider making. Print or online articles, radio or TV broadcasts and podcasts can all be submitted. The best entries both inform and entertain the reader about the chosen topic, while also being perfect for the publication and target audience.
Guild Award for Best Communication About Diversity in Beer
This award is open to written, audio, video, or photography work dealing with issues of diversity in the world of beer and pubs (e.g. age, gender, gender identity, sexuality, race, religion, ability and other aspects of diversity). No fee is required to enter this category. The best entries go beyond championing those who take diversity seriously and put their achievements (or lack thereof) in the context of the wider industry and world, as well as telling stories previously untold by other writers or broadcasters.
Best Beer Communicator – Regional Media
This award is open to work that has been published in a regional publication. If you’ve created written, audio, video or photography work that has been commissioned by a regional newspaper, website or magazine, had airtime on a local radio station, or work that is very clearly aimed at a regional audience, this is your category. CAMRA newsletters could also be submitted here, and/or in our Best Citizen Beer Communicator category. The best entries are specific and important to the chosen area, and display clear thought and originality.
Best Corporate Beer Communication
This category is open to companies and other organisations as well as individuals, who have created written, audio, video or photography work that has been produced for the specific purpose of promoting a business or product. Entries can be aimed at internal, trade or consumer audiences, and entrants should demonstrate how their work has achieved the organisation’s communications objectives. NB: the winner of this award receives a trophy but no prize money.
Ready to enter the Awards? Click here!