The world’s newest world beer awards judge

I’m new to this game. Not to drinking – I’ve been doing that for years – but to writing about drinking, finding new ideas about drinking, learning about our idiosyncrasies towards the beers we drink, the places we drink in and the breweries we favour. It’s still interesting to me. Exciting, even. I’ve been told that will wane. So far, so good.

Being new means you find lots of fresh opportunities. All that energy, all those ideas. No major enemies yet. Happy to contact anyone, go anywhere, try anything. Super jazzed to be here, sharing this space with people you’ve learned to look up to. If you use this window right, there’s plenty of work out there for you. I know. I’m in that window currently, forcing myself to not just step outside of my comfort zone but basejump from its precarious little platform high above the scary jungle of industry/human interaction.

I went full-time freelance in March, after years of working in an office as a content marketer – one those people Bill Hicks told to kill themselves. It took me two and a half years to be brave enough to hand in my notice and make the jump. Incidentally, that jump ended up feeling more like a tentative step down the front step of my house in the dark. Not actually that bad. I felt a bit silly to have made such a fuss about it. Turns out I’d been prepping internally for it for ages.

That didn’t make it any less terrifying to sit down on my first day at the kitchen table and think, “Everything I do now is my own fault.”

When I was asked if I’d like to judge at the World Beer Awards this year, there was an element of “oh what have I done now” as I read the email. If you’ve ever experienced imposter syndrome, you’ll understand. Somehow, I’d successfully convinced some beer industry bigdogs that I knew something about beer. How did that happen?

Well, I’ll tell you.

  1. I do actually know some things about beer.
  2. I’ve worked really hard to put myself in the right places to find opportunities like this.
My brain continued to tell me otherwise and I actually said “thanks but no thanks” first, before getting a bollocking from nearly everyone I know and changing my mind. And I’m so glad I did.
Travelling to London is actually Quite A Big Deal to rural northerners.
The World Beer Awards was a brilliant experience for a newcomer to the industry. Sitting at a table with an expert beer sommelier (Nigel Sadler) who was happy to answer all of my millions of questions was great. Being taught how to judge correctly was great. Having the opportunity to taste beers and give an honest opinion – which was listened to – was great. Putting all the reading I’ve been doing over the past year or two into practice was great. Meeting loads more people with the same interests as me was great. The whole thing was an amazing experience and I have to thank the whole World Beer Awards team for being so welcoming, especially to nervous newbies like me.

If you have a passion you want to pursue and you’re grounded by anxiety, self-doubt and The Fear, I wanted to write this post to assuage that. You are worth the space you take up. Your voice is valuable and new. Your ideas are interesting and exciting. Nobody else is like you. No matter how slow-going it feels at times, your skills are becoming more honed each and every day. If you’re not as good now as you want to be – don’t worry. I take solace in the fact that I will never be as good as I want to be. It’s necessary to force personal growth on yourself, and this makes sure I always strive to be better. Maybe you’re not as severe as I am. That’s cool, whatever works.
I’m still a content marketer, I’m just freelance now. That’s how I can afford to visit pubs and breweries so that I can write about them. What’s changed is my attitude. Beer hasn’t just given me a new job, it’s given me something I’ve never really had before – confidence in my abilities. 
But maybe that’s the pint I’ve just sank.
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4 thoughts on “The world’s newest world beer awards judge

  1. I'm sure you deserve to be where you are. Don't let self-doubt hold you back. Everyone – even the seemingly most self-confident – are scared little children deep inside. I know I am.

  2. Thanks so much for reading Ron – I'm a big fan of your work so it means a lot that you've commented! I think getting to know more and more people in industry has shown me that almost everyone gets these fears at one time or another. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one.

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