Judging beer awards in Leeds
Spent today in Leeds. Itís actually the first time Iíve been to this city, although aside from three nice pubs, I didnít see all that much of it.
I was one of the four judges of the annual beer writersí awards. In case you are wondering, I was the non-beer person on the panel, and as a non-beer person it was interesting to read all the entries, which gave me a snapshot of the current state of beer writing in the UK. (The panel was chaired by Zac Avery, with Sean Franklin and Larry Nelson the other members.)
I also got a feel for some of the hot debates in the world of beer. A recurrent theme seems to be that although CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has done some good things for beer in the past, they currently seem a bit out of touch and stubbornly defensive of their own particular vision of Ďreal aleí. Another controversy surrounds the brand ĎBrew Dogí, who rather bizarrely created a controversial beer and then complained about it to the Portman group about it, getting it banned. Itís just that they didnít tell everyone that they were the ones to get their own beer banned until much later. This created quite a storm in the beer blogosphere.
I canít give any specifics about the entries (youíll have to wait until December 3rd for the results), but all four of us were very satisfied with the quality of the winning entries. Some decisions were easy to make; others much tougher. Today we will have made some people very happy indeed; others weíve probably annoyed/disappointed a great deal. I know what itís like to be on the other side of awards judging, and no decisions were made lightly.
Judging was at the Cross Keys, not far from the station. The food there is excellent: I had a corned beef hash with a fried egg on top that was close to gastronomic perfection. It was washed down with an excellent pint of Roosterís Leghorn (Sean's brewery). After competing judging, Zac took us on a tour of a couple of local hostelries. Pints of Leeds bitter and Timothy Taylor Landlord went down smoothly. The second of these was consumed in a pub just next to the Tetley brewery. Itís threatened with closure, but tonight the smell of brewing beer hanging in the air was quite intoxicating.