In an attempt to finish this awkward year on a positive note, let’s celebrate the creativity, collaboration and talent shown in the beer industry. Here are some of the highlights of 2020.

Author: Malin Norman

Despite the pandemic, this year has seen some fantastic new beers, wonderful and inspiring beer writing, and encouraging brewery collaborations. In particular, I remember Other Half’s All Together project, in support of hospitality workers, and Weathered Souls’ Black is Beautiful, to increase awareness of injustices faced by people of colour. Both these projects have united hundreds of breweries around the world, how amazing is that?

As for this year’s best brews, over 2,200 beers from more than 50 countries entered the World Beer Awards 2020 and judges around the world connected via Zoom for the tasting sessions. To name a few of the winners, Niubic Riesling Sour by NBeer from China won World’s Best Speciality Experimental, McGargles Export Stout from Ireland was named World’s Best Stout, and Drunken Sailor by German brewery CREW Republic won World’s Best IPA English Style. Adrian Tierney-Jones, chair of the awards, said in a statement; “This year’s winners in the World Beer Awards demonstrate the verve and vitality of brewers and their wonderful beers around the globe.”

© British Guild of Beer Writers

2020 has also seen a wave of podcasts, YouTube channels, online tastings and other learning experiences. For instance, CAMRA’s Learn & Discover program with information about beer, cider, perry and pubs for beginners, enthusiasts and connoisseurs. CAMRA also launched the podcast Pubs. Pints. People. with hosts Katie Wiles, Ant Fiorillo and Matt Bundy. Every week, they have examined topics such as how micropubs are doing during the pandemic, the science of beer, how pubs improve our mental health, and much more. And of course my old favourite, The Craft Beer Channel. This is actually the world’s biggest YouTube channel about craft beer with nearly 100k subscribers, and hosts Jonny and Brad have continued to release entertaining videos to bring the beer community together.

And of course there are many talented beer writers who have provided great content, as seen at the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards. For example, the Shepherd Neame Award for Best Communication about Beer and Pubs during Lockdown was given to Emma Inch for the Fermentation in Isolation podcasts. This is a spin-off from her award-winning Fermentation Beer & Brewing Radio podcast, with updates from trade bodies, consumer organisations, brewers, and more. Oliver Fozard, head brewer at Rooster’s Brewing Co, won the Brewer of the Year title, sponsored by SIBA. And Lily Waite won the prominent Michael Jackson Gold Award for Beer Writer of the Year 2020. She’s a fabulous beer writer and also founder of The Queer Brewing Project, set up to provide visibility for LGBTQ+ people in and around beer. For all award winners, click here.

Talking of brilliant beer writing, below are three interesting books published this year:

The Family Brewers of Britain: A celebration of British brewing heritage, by Roger Protz: Award-winning beer writer Roger Protz celebrates the contribution to British brewing made by its family brewers. He examines the past, the present and the future of these breweries and highlights the important part they continue to play in brewing story.

Beer by Design: The art of good beer branding, by Pete Brown: There are over 2,500 breweries in Britain, with an ever-changing range of beers available to consumers. No doubt, design of beer labels need to stand out and in this new book, acclaimed beer writer Pete Brown dives into the art of great beer branding.

CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2021: The best-selling guide to beer and pubs in the UK. Now in its 48th edition, this is the complete book for beer lovers and for anyone wanting to experience the UK’s finest pubs.

Pictures: British Guild of Beer Writers, Patrick Fore on Unsplash