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Apr 18, 2014

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Triple Gold for Michael Jackson

Beer Hunter wins award as Britian's top beer writer

Jan 7, 2003 - Michael Jackson emerged from the holiday season with his third Gold Tankard as Britain's "Beer Writer of the Year". This is the top award in an annual judging run by the British Guild of Beer Writers. In the 15 years of the competition, Jackson has won a dozen Gold, Silver or Pewter Awards and a Budweiser Budvar Travel Bursary.

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His prize-winning articles juxtaposed American and Yorkshire hops; attacked brewers in the United Kingdom for failing to enter the Beer World Cup ("The British Aren't Coming"); and satirised the decision to close Brakspear's brewery and rehab the town-center building as apartments ("Only a hopelessly old-fashioned town would still have at its center a brewery. St Paul's Cathedral is a prime city-center site. Westminster Abbey is another. Shouldn't they be turned into apartments, too?") Those three pieces appeared in The Independent, a British national newspaper. The portfolio also included an article inspired by a tasting of Imperial Stouts at the Russian Tea Room, New York (for the British bar and lifestyle glossy Class Magazine). There was also a two-parter on "Beer As Wine" for Brewers' Guardian.

Michael Jackson
The Gold Tankard is immediately put to good use. The beer is named after British boxer "Bombardier" Billy Wells. It is produced by the Charles Wells brewery, which sponsors the awards. Pouring the pint for Jackson is managing director Paul Wells.

Writers from the county of Yorkshire, in Central Northern England, have featured strongly in the awards over the years. Jackson is from Yorkshire. So is Barrie Pepper, who won the Silver Tankard for his semi-autobiographical book The Landlord's Tale, about growing up in a Northern pub. Unusually, two Silver Tankards were awarded. The other went to the BBC radio Food Program, for a special on hops.

An article on Brooklyn Brewery's collaboration with John Willie Lees, of Manchester, provided a subject for another Northern writer, Arthur Taylor. His story, for the Manchester magazine City Life won a Pewter Tankard. So did Sky TV for a training video on cask ale.

To complete the Northern flavor, writer Alastair Gilmour, of the Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, won the Budweiser Budvar Travel Bursary. The man who runs the Czech brewery, Josef Tolar, was special guest for the evening. Steve Wellington, of the Bass Museum brewery joined him at the head table. Wellington won the annual award to a brewer: a special accolade in that it comes from the critics.

Jackson has also been winning awards for his writing on distilled beer. His most recent honor is "The Jury's Grand Prize" in the Gold Laurel Awards, in Zurich, Switzerland. These awards, for books on food and drink, are made by Historia Gastronomica Helvetica.

Jackson's honour was for his book Scotland and its Whiskies, with photography by Harry Cory Wright (published by Harcourt). "For many people, this book will be the key to new territory," commented the organisation's president, Bruno-Thomas Eltschinger, making the award. He said he discovered "the Scottish soul" in the text. "It's a 'must' for any trip to Scotland, but it's also a bedside book: readable, humorous, personal." Scotland and its Whiskies had previously been honoured in Périgueux, France, in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.


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