Beer & food matching for a tough crowd

For the third year in a row I have been lucky enough to get involved with choosing the beers for The British Guild of Beer Writers annual awards dinner, each year I have had the pleasure of working with executive chef Simon Young and some of the best beer writers in the country.  The event, to be held this year on Thursday 4th December, is attended by 220 leading beer writers, brewers and beer lovers at The Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel, Knightsbridge.

In my mind, despite some very useful guidelines, there are few absolute ‘rights and wrongs’ in beer and food matching as personal preference comes in to play an awful lot.  Do you love your spice to be heated up with an IPA or do you prefer the mellowing notes of a wheat beer? Do fruit beers float your boat with chocolate or do you turn to the darkside and sink bottle of imperial stout? With a room full of 220 beer lovers there is certainly no shortage of opinions, so choosing the beers to pair with the four course meal can be a minefield… ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’ I remind myself. Thankfully, it really is a task which I relish, and this year alongside Tim Hampson (Chair of The British Guild of Beer Writers) and Sophie Atherton (Britain’s first female accredited Beer Sommelier) I think we have come up with some fantastic beer and food pairings.

The menu, as always, is adventurous for a banqueting meal. Simon likes to push the boat out and enjoys coming up with menus for us, helpfully tweaking his dishes to help the pairings shine. Hundreds of emails, several meetings, two beer tastings and one food tasting precede the final decision, it’s a tough job 🙂


I’m not going to spoil the surprise completely, so hopefully you’ll be there to enjoy the dinner, and to see the current Beer Writer of the Year, Will Hawkes, dish out the 2014 awards. I hope you enjoy the meal and the beers we’ve chosen. I know you’ll be enjoying the free beer from the sponsors bars from 6pm, but if you fancy a pint beforehand, I’ll see you at The Nags Head for an Adnams or two.


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