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Dwink, Dwink and be merry

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Cheeky chappies Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham

In the firmament of the current group of people doing beer talks two of the shining stars are Ben McFarland and Tom Sandhan.

The cheeky, chappy Dwink duo, which I caught yesterday at a Foodies Festival in Oxford, took an irreverent and sometime bawdy journey through the world of beer and cider. “We do corporate events and consumer tastings, stag events, hen nights and children’s parties, but prefer hen nights,” confides Tom with a mischievous grin and a sparkle in his eye.

Forget the notion that beer tastings are an extravagance of technical terms and facts about hop varieties, international bitterness units and measurements for the colour of malt. In triple quick time, well they had to make way for a Portuguese wine tasting, and a testy stage manager behind the scenes was giving a stern look, the pair took an entranced audience though five beers and an organic cider.

Most loved the Hall & Woodhouse elderflower flavoured Champion. The opening of a flip top bottle of Grolsch became a piece of crowd theatre. The flavour of a Molson Coors Blue Moon, a wheat beer, was enhanced by being poured over a piece of orange. Coopers Pale Ale confused several people as it was cloudy, giving the pair a chance to talk about bottle conditioned beers. The Westons Organic Cider showed there is more to alcoholic apple drinks than Magners or Bulmers. And the tasting ended with a glass of Innis & Gunn, which introduced people to the idea of wood aging beer in whisky barrels. And on the way they took in beer and food pairings, the health benefits of sensible drinking and told everyone that the beer belly was a myth.

The choice of drinks by the Dwink’s pair was clever. All easily available, all approachable and all a marvellous entry into the world of beers. The audience left with smiles on their faces, a greater knowledge about beer and that marvellous of feeling contentment from having had a good beer.

So who have you seen recently who has given a good beer talk?



Search for best beer writer begins

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Pictured from left - Budweiser Budvar's Ian Moss and Beer Writer of the Year Pete Brown

Search for best beer writer launched –

Have you got the words to be Beer Writer of the Year 2010 and win £1,000?

The British Guild of Beer Writers is giving beer communicators the chance to enter their work in six different categories, with one of the category winners to be named as the Beer Writer of the Year and receive the coveted Michael Jackson Gold Tankard Award*.

The competition is open to writers, broadcasters, photographers, poets, illustrators, designers, webmasters and bloggers whose work has broadened the public’s knowledge of beer and pubs. Nominations and entries are being sought for six categories:

Molson Coors’ Award for Best Writing in National Publications – prize £1,000 & £500

For the very best writing or broadcasting aimed at a general audience, published in the national (and international) press, consumer magazines, books, national television and radio.

Adnams Award for Best Writing in Regional Publications – prize £1,000 & £500

For the very best writing or broadcasting aimed at a specific local or regional audience, published in local and regional newspapers, magazines, radio, television and CAMRA newsletters.

Wells & Young’s Awards for Best Writing for the Beer and Pub Trade – prize £1,000 & £500

For the very best writing or broadcasting aimed at the brewing and pub industry, published in trade and company newspapers, newsletters, magazines, reports and websites.

Brains SA Gold Award for Best Online Communication – £1,000 & £500

For the very best use of blogs, websites and social media, whether that be writing or use of other tools such as video or social networking.

Budweiser Budvar John White Travel Bursary – prize £1,000 plus trip to Czech Republic

For the very best travel-themed beer writing (or beer-themed travel writing) or broadcasting. Entries can be from national, local or regional media, books, trade publications or online.

Bishop’s Finger Award for Beer and Food Writing – prize £1,000

For the very best writing or broadcasting on the subject of matching beer with food (an area formerly dominated by wine). Entries can be from national, local or regional media, books, trade publications or online.

How to enter

To enter the British Guild of Beer Writers Annual Awards send four copies (photocopies or printouts from PDFs accepted) of each entry, published or broadcast in the last 12 months up to 30 September 2010 – stating where it has been published. Authors of books need to send four copies of the book.

Website and bloggers entries – please send web address and URLs of the pages you want the judges to read.

Entrants can enter as many categories as they want, but they are limited to a maximum of six entries within each category. Remember, quality is more important than quantity so send one good entry in a category rather than six mediocre ones.

The entry should be accompanied by a letter stating which category or categories are being entered.

Entries should be sent by 8 October to – Beer Writers Competition, c/o  Seal Communications, Commercial Street, Birmingham, B1 1RH

Contact Seal: Nigel Pipkin 0121 616 5800 E: Birmingham@seal.uk.com

Entrants are asked to nominate which category they would like their work to be entered into but the judges reserve the right to consider work for other categories.

Editors, publishers and other third parties can nominate entrants to the competition.

Entrants do not have to be members of the British Guild of Beer Writers – they just have to communicate about beer or beer culture, new products or the ingredients and brewing of beer.

There is no limitation on the number of categories that an individual may enter.

Entries can only be returned if accompanied with a self-addressed, stamped envelope or packaging.

*Michael Jackson (27 March 1942 – 30 August 2007) who was also known as the beer hunter, dedicated more than 30 years to discovering, recording and then sharing the world’s finest beers in his many books, articles and TV programmes. He was the first Chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Guidelines for entrants can be found at http://www.beerwriters.co.uk/news.php?awards=1&showarticle=23

To book a place at the awards dinner – ticket price is £70 per person or £56 for BGBW individual members. For more information booking at the dinner contact Angie Armitage, at angie@cask-marque.co.uk or on 01206 752212

For more information on the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards contact Tim Hampson Tel: 07768 614283 – Email: tim@infopub.co.uk. Blog: https://beerandpubs.wordpress.com


Written by timhampson

August 19, 2010 at 9:29 am

Want to lose weight? Swap the wine for beer

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Some years back I was in Bass Brewing Museum, in Burton on Trent, though it might have been called the Coors Visitor Centre by this time. A group of women on the next table were from the local Weightwatchers group. And when it came to lunch, in the spiritual home of British brewing and one of the most important town’s in the world story of beer, they all ordered…….glasses of white wine.

A great pity they didn’t know that people can drink beer without putting on weight. In fact, swapping from wine to beer for just one week would save as many calories as a half-hour jog so some scientists have told me. Research shows that around one-third of men and women wrongly believe that beer has more calories than other alcoholic drinks. In fact, the opposite is true and, when drunk in moderation, beer people lose weight, cut their alcohol consumption and, more generally, supplement a healthy lifestyle.

So cut out the pies and kebabs and eat salad with a drizzle of olive oil instead. Now a takeaway green salad might not sound as exciting as the queue for a burger and chips, but perhaps this research could herald a new trend in late night eateries? According to the boffins half pint of 3.8% bitter contains 85 calories, a 175ml of 12% red plonk has 119 calories, the same size glass of a vino blanc has a tummy expanding 131 calories and a 5 per cent alcopop has 179.

And the good news for alcohol unit counter (yes there are some) is that they should shun wine too and turn to beer. Because beer is the drinks category with the lowest average alcohol content. Beer also contains no fat or cholesterol and very few free sugars. So for someone looking to lose weight, swapping their glass of wine for a beer every day would not only reduce their weekly alcohol intake by seven units – but also cut out more calories than are burned off during a typical 30 minute jog.

So no more beer bellies, but what should our expanding girths? Wine-waisters? Ideas welcome.

The research was published in Beer, the natural choice? http://www.beeracademy.co.uk/about-us/what-does-it-do

Written by timhampson

August 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm