Ian Clayton has won a prestigious British Guild of Beer Writers award, picking up the Long Live the Local Award for Best Writer about Pubs for his book It’s The Beer Talking: Adventures in Public Houses, which was published earlier this year.
In his acceptance speech, Clayton said, ‘Public houses are like libraries, in that they both deserved to be looked after and cherished.’ A notion shared by the award’s sponsors, Long Live The Local, a campaign backed by a broad alliance of pubs, brewers and industry bodies to celebrate the vital role local pubs play in our community, culture and economy. The judges were briefed to find the best writing about the pub as a treasured national asset. The award was presented David Cunningham, programme director for Long Live The Local, at the Guild’s glitzy annual dinner held at One Great George Street in Westminster. Clayton received a framed citation, a specially engraved tankard and a cheque for £1000.
Clayton’s was the only book honoured at this year’s awards, which received more than 150 entries across 11 categories. Emma Inch, chair of judges for the Awards said ‘The standard of entries across all categories was extremely high and judges had a tough task choosing the winners and runners up. We were impressed by the levels of knowledge, energy and passion that shone through the works submitted by our finalists, whether they had written a column, published a book or produced a film.’ Inch described Clayton’s book as a ‘picaresque adventure’.
Inch was joined on the judging panel by Laurence Creamer, Social & Digital Lead on industry campaign Long Live The Local; Tim Hayward, food & drink author, restaurant reviewer and regular on Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet;: Charlie McVeigh, founder of Draft House; Tony Naylor, food & drink writer contributing to The Guardian and BBC Good Food; Ross O’Hara, head brewer at Greene King; Kate Oppenheim, hospitality sector journalist and communications expert, currently publisher and editor of BII News; Tony Sophoclides, Strategic Affairs Director at UKHospitality.
Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, Pete Brown, said of the award that he was ‘I’m delighted Ian’s book was a success because it shows us how many different ways there are to tackle pubs as a writer, which in turn reminds us how multi-faceted and essential pubs are.’
In It’s The Beer Talking, Ian Clayton turns his sights on one of the great loves of his life, the public house. When he started drinking in the 1970s, Clayton drank alongside men who’d fought in the First World War, thus by 2019 he’s shared first-hand stories that span over a century of life lived. In his foreword to the book, one of Britain’s leading beer writers, Roger Protz, bemoans the decline of the public house as the centre of British life, a victim of modern times. While the statistics of pub closures bear this out as undeniable fact, somewhere in Ian Clayton’s story lays a glimpse of something else. In this journey to the soul of the British pub, we see a spirit that endures, an eternal connection to public houses which is ever-present, behind the layers of paint, inside the stories, waiting to be released. Ian believes that pubs, like libraries, are repositories of wisdom, if we lose either, then the neighbourhood starts to shiver.
Ian Clayton is an author, broadcaster and storyteller from Featherstone, West Yorkshire. His stories are about making sense of where we come from. His books tackle subjects as diverse as rugby league, jazz and homelessness. His recent memoirs include Song For My Father, Our Billie and Bringing It All Back Home, described by Record Collector magazine as ‘one of the best books about popular music ever written’.