Saturday, 7 June 2014

The British Guild of Beer Writers

The first example of beer
and pub writing that I read
Sometimes when I've read an article on a beer-related issue on-line or in a magazine, I see the phrase, "X is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers". This reminded me of how sometimes during the credits of television dramas in the 60s and 70s, a voice would reverently say of a member of the cast, "X is a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company".

I'd never really given the guild much thought until recently when I decided to find out something about it. The website states: "The British Guild of Beer Writers was formed in 1988 to help spread the word about beers, brewing and pubs, and our website is dedicated to exactly that pursuit." That's all well and good.

I then had a look at how you qualify for membership, and it's quite simple: pay them £40 per year. Presumably it's better if you have done more than just drink beer, otherwise your CV on the website would look rather silly, but I was slightly disappointed that I could join with no need to prove my credentials. In fact, I'm probably quite well qualified: as well as writing this blog, I was until recently the editor of our local CAMRA magazine, which I still contribute to, and have written a few beer and pub-related articles in the local press. But, basically, it's just a club. I have no problem with that at all; it's just that in future when I read the someone is a member of the guild, I'll know that all it means is the writer has put a cheque in the post.

This is the logo, added after
info given below by Adrian
Tierney-Jones, BGBW secretary.
One minor criticism I do have is that the application form looks as though it's been thrown together by someone who can barely use a computer. Considering that the guild is all about communication, I'd expect it to look professional. For a similar reason, I'm also surprised that they don't seem to have a logo.

Will I be joining? No, not interested; belonging to CAMRA at £23 per year is much better value. And it's got a logo.

RedNev is not a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers.


  1. I do wonder how many free piss ups you get invited to as a BGBW member though!

  2. I never thought of that. Where's my cheque book?

  3. PR people tend to use the membership list as a one stop shop for event invites and sending samples so you'd probably recoup the membership fee in free beer fairly quickly. A free copy of the rather pricy BBPA statistical handbook isn't to be sniffed at, either.

    Having said that, we're not members.

  4. As the Secretary and the gatekeeper of membership I can assure you that I vet everyone who asks to join — it’s not a case of spending 40 quid and whoops you’re in. I’ve turned down several this year, gently asking them to get some writing experience, whether it’s blogging, CAMRA newsletter, whatever so that the Guild can help them. And it’s in the public domain, ie the newsletter on the website, that the committee has been looking at changing the rules of membership (I’ve actually produced a paper for it) — so a club of boozers’ club it is not. You’re welcome to apply.

  5. oh and here’s the logo — point taken though on the form though.

  6. Thank you Adrian for that clarification; I'm happy to be corrected. I like your logo, but I didn't realise it was one; I assumed it was an illustration, seeing that it has no name or acronym to indicate what organisation it represents, and with it not being on the front page of the website. I've added it to the article, as you can see.


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