The second annual Celebrate British Beer awards are part of a long-running campaign from OLN and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group designed to highlight the huge role our hard-working retailers play in making Britain a world leader in beer.
Graham Evans MP, new chairman of the APPBG, partnered OLN in hosting the awards and praised the contribution that beer retailers make to the economy.
A host of MPs joined the assorted retailers, beer writers and trade body representatives in the Thames Room at the House of Commons for the ceremony.
The first award was for the Best Retailer in the Midlands and it went to Favourite Beers in Cheltenham.
Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, presented the award to owner Leigh Norwood.
Next up was the award for Best Retailer in London, presented by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, who has just had to stand down as chair of the APPBG after he was appointed a Government whip by Theresa May.
The competition was fierce, featuring two recent Drinks Retailing Awards winners in Real Ale and We Brought Beer, but it was Hop, Burns & Black in Dulwich that took home the gong.
It was Edinburgh vs Glasgow in the battle for Best Retailer in Scotland and The Beer Hive in Edinburgh edged it, to the delight of presenter Deidre Brock, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith.
Helen Whateley MP gave out the award for Best Retailer in the South, which went to Inn at Home in Newbury.
Hop Hideout in Sheffield was named Best Retailer in the North, presented by APPBG honorary secretary Paul Hegarty.
Gwin Llyn Wines from Pwllheli took the final regional award for Best Retailer in Wales, much to the delight of owners Dean and Margaret Pritchard.
Evans returned to the stage to present Best Specialist Chain, which went to Majestic after the wine specialist increased its focus on British beer.
The final award went to Marks & Spencer, which finished ahead of Tesco and Sainsbury’s to win Best Supermarket.
The award was presented by Carl Middleton, head of sales for Marston’s Beer Company, the sponsor of Celebrate British Beer and the leading producer of British premium bottled ales.
We recruited local experts in each region to nominate the best beer retailers around, and were also flooded with entries from retailers themselves.
It was a long and arduous process to whittle them down to those shortlisted yesterday, as the level of quality was so consistently high, but we eventually managed to do it and the retailers that congregated in the Thames Room at the House of Commons represented the absolute pinnacle of beer retailing in the world, let alone the UK.
An expert panel of judges made up of independent writers, beer sommeliers and other experts, then pored over the entries of each shortlisted retailer and chose their top candidates in a closed and weighted voting process, and we arrived at the winners.
Evans said he was pleased to “celebrate the fantastic contribution retailers make to our beer industry”.
He added: “Not only does the British beer industry support nearly 900,000 jobs across the country, but the growth in the sector in recent years means that there is now at least one brewery in almost every constituency in the country, creating thousands of great beers and supporting local pubs.
“It’s estimated that across the country British breweries produce 11,000 types of British beer, and tonight we’re [it was an honour] to celebrate the country’s best beer retailers, many of whom have the unenviable job of choosing between the thousands of fantastic British beers we have seen come onto the market in recent years.
“Our beer retailers make a huge contribution to the beer industry and to the UK economy as a whole – thank you for all the work you do in championing great British beer.”