Brown grew up in a pub and was recognised as beer drinker of the year for her love of beer and pubs. She charmed the Great British Bake Off judges with her ginger bread pub featuring a sticky ginger pub carpet and since winning has used her celebrity to encourage apprentices and other young people working in the pub and brewing sector.
Previous beer drinkers of the the year
1994 - Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP
1995 - Jack Charlton OBE
1996 - Anna Chancellor
1997 - John Lowe
1998 - John Cryne
1999 - Michael Parkinson OBE
2000 - Edward Kelsey aka Joe Grundy of the Archers
2001 - Darren Gough
2002 - HRH the Prince of Wales
2003 - Lord Jones of Cheltenham
2004 - Roger Protz
2005 - Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP
2006 - Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff
2007 - Michel Roux
2008 - Nick Hewer
2009 - David and Robert Aynesworth
2010 - John Grogan
2011 - Sriram Aylur
2012 - Peter Hendy OBE
2013 - Rt Hon George Osborne MP
2014 - Robert Humphreys MBE
2015 - The Sun Newspaper
2016 - Cathy Price
2017 - Andrew Griffiths MP
'Learned to cook in the pub'
Earlier this year, she attended a House of Commons reception for apprentices from the brewing and pub sector hosted by small business minister Andrew Griffiths MP. She told the audience she had learned to cook in the pub and picked up many other important life skills there too.
The beer group also recognised more individuals who have gone above and beyond for the sector with six further awards:
- Brewer of the Year: Sara Barton, Brewster’s Brewery
- Lifetime Achievement: Annabelle Smith and Jane Peyton
- Special Award: Colin Valentine and Tim Page, CAMRA
- Beer Parliamentarian of the Year: Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke North
- Pub Parliamentarian of the Year: Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield
- PubAid Award: Stonegate Pub Company
Twenty-five years of the beer group
The beer group, which was first set up in 1993, celebrated its successes over the past quarter century with group chairman Mike Wood highlighting the fact that Britain’s brewers and pub are “unequivocally forces for good, economically and socially”.
Wood said: “In the 25 years since Robert Humphreys and Sir Alan Meale set up the beer group, the sector has changed enormously and the group has changed in response to the challenges that the industry faces and the opportunities for the industry to succeed.
“We’ve seen – and I think this is trademarked to Andrew Griffiths – we’ve seen the hated beer duty escalator first introduced then abolished, and the introduction of the small breweries' relief scheme which has helped to generate an explosion in the quantity and quality of small brewers and is fair to say is now generating similarly explosive debate about the best way of supporting that part of the sector.
“Now we’re looking at possible opportunities and potential decisions that will have to be made as Britain prepares to leave the EU. Over the past year the group’s big campaign was on beer duty and on business rates and its success has been down to the remarkable unity and discipline of parliamentarians, brewers, pubs, industry groups and membership organisations who campaigned so well with a single voice.”
Pub and beer successes
Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, also spoke at the event in support of pubs, brewing and hospitality.
“Beer is a significant export industry for the UK. The rest of the world is beginning to understand what we have always known, that British beer is the best in the world.
“Last year £526m worth or more than 1.1bn pints of British brewed beer [were sold overseas]. We export beer to over 120 countries, it’s enjoyed from equatorial rain forests to the Arctic Circle. It’s one of our top 10 food and drink exports… and often leads the way in opening new markets.”
The minister said his department was committed to supporting UK beer companies to begin exporting or to expand existing operations overseas with experienced trade advisors on hand across the UK.
He said: “UK pubs and the wider hospitality sector have a vital role to play in showcasing everything the UK beer industry has to offer. Going to the pub for a pint is top of the list on any tourist itinerary. Visit Britain research shows pubs are the third most popular attraction for visitors after the British Museum and the Tower of London, so it’s history, culture and refreshment.
“And staying in pubs is fast becoming the preferred option for visitors wishing to experience local hospitality, with 5,500 pubs offering somewhere to sleep for the night, with 50,000 rooms between them.
"It’s easy to deduce that the success of Britain’s pubs is directly linked to the success of our beer exports. Beer is a fine example of how the success of global businesses in each [parliamentary] constituency translates directly to exporting success and the economic health of the UK.”