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5th September 2022

James Clay receives Honorary Knighthood of the Brewers’ Paddle

On September 3rd 2022, James Clay, Managing Director of James Clay and Sons was inaugurated to the Knighthood of the Brewers’ paddle, in recognition of his work in furthering Belgian Beer in the UK.

James follows in the footsteps of his Father Ian Clay (founder of James Clay and Sons), and colleague Nigel Stevenson, who were knighted 20 years ago for their efforts in developing the market in the UK for Belgian beer.

On receiving the honour James said ’it is a great privilege to receive the Honorary Knighthood just as it is to share Belgian Beer, a pinnacle of global brewing, with British beer drinkers. During the past decade we have observed the globalisation of craft beer but Belgian Brewing has remained delightfully unique owing to centuries of refinement and their discerning beer culture.’

It’s now 20 years since Ian was knighted and he describes himself as ‘very proud that James has now been recognised for the work he and all at James Clay & Sons do in promoting the great beers of Belgium here in the UK. It is great that the independent Belgian brewers remain so proud of their beers that they acknowledge those involved with this annual ceremony and display of their beers in the magnificence of the Grand Place in the heart of Brussels.’

Knighthood is obtained through nomination by a member of the Belgian Family brewers, and James was nominated by Karel Boon of Brouwerij Boon. Karel decided to nominate James as he’s ‘not only an importer of Belgian beers, but also a huge fan of the category and someone who understands the work and quality behind it. As a family brewery, we are also big supporters of other family businesses such as James Clay with whom long term and steady relations can be built across generations.’

The Knighthood of the Brewers’ Paddle is administered by the Union of Belgian brewers, that can trace its roots back to the 14th century, making it one of the world’s oldest guilds.

James Clay and Sons are an independent family owned importer of specialist beer to the UK, operating since 1978. The company was established by Ian Clay to facilitate bringing interesting beer in for the pub he ran at the time, starting off with a handful of crates for himself. Today it has grown to be the UK’s biggest importer of specialist beer, and is now in its second generation of Clay family stewardship. The focus on quality and passion for beer remain the same as day one, and will never change.

(From L-R) Alain de Laet (Huyghe Brewery and Grand Master of the Knighthood of the Brewers’ Paddle), Olaf Blancquaert (Duvel-Moortgat), James Clay, Ian Clay, Nicky Boon (née Clay), Frank Boon (Brouwerij Boon), Xavier Vanneste (De Halve Maan)

Press release from James Clay.

For further questions or more information, please contact Joe Dick on