I've probably written too much about writing about beer rather than about beer itself in recent months but please indulge me one last time, because this one is important.
Last December I was named Beer Writer of the Year at the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards. Blimey, but it's gone quick.
One of the perks of the job is that this year I have to chair the judges for Beer Writer of the Year 2010. I've assembled a panel of judges who I feel will be thorough and fair in terms of rewarding work that fulfils the Guild's stated aims "To improve standards of beer writing and extend the public knowledge of beer." I'm the only beer writer among them: there's a brewer, a national newspaper journalist and a food writer. Between us, we're looking for writing where the passion for beer is obvious - and infectious.
The rise of beer blogging has seen a huge increase in entries to the awards, which is a fantastic thing - bloggers have re-energised the whole discipline of beer writing. There's a category for online beer communication which potentially covers everything from tweets to e-books, but there are other categories such as beer and food writing or the travel bursary where blog posts can also compete. Entries are judged on their merits. At least two of our judges don't know their Protz from their Cooking Lager, so if there are any conspiracy theorists out there thinking of wading in about old boys' networks (two of the four judges are women by the way), the difference between 'professional' writers and amateurs, old media versus new media, forget it - we just want to reward the very best beer writing, irrespective of where it comes from or where it's going.
The press release for the awards is here. And this year, to encourage as many entries as possible, I've gathered received wisdom from previous Beer Writers of the Year/Chairmen of Judges to write a detailed set of guidelines for entrants. We've also tweaked the wording of the six categories of the awards, to make things as clear and open as possible.
This year we've also imposed a rule limiting the maximum number of entries in any one category to six. It's about quality, not quantity - in recent years, prizes have been given to people who submitted a single piece of work. So if you're a blogger thinking of entering, now's the time to look back over your work this year and choose the pieces that really stand out. (If you haven't got comments from people after a post saying how good it was, and you're still thinking of entering it, just have another look).
So the field is open. Anything written in the 12 months to 30th September 2010, to be submitted by 8th October. If you have any questions, please do read the press release and the guidelines for entrants, and if they don't answer them, let me know!
Looking forward to reading your work in October.