13 March 2024

Joint Statement regarding Beer Guide London

By admin

The following statement also appears in the News section of www.beerguideldn.com

The future of Beer Guide London – a note from Jezza:

We launched Beer Guide London in its current format 10 years ago, in January 2014. It started many years before then as a Word document on which I noted good places to drink beer in London. I used to send it to anyone who asked me for tips on the best places.

A collaboration with my long-time friend and fellow beer geek Fred Waltman, who knew more about IT than I’ll ever know, led to the Guide going online and that early 2014 launch. Since then, the Guide has continued to expand in line with the growth of the beer scene in London – it currently lists around 300 Guide entries and a comprehensive list of all London breweries.  

However, nothing lasts forever, hence this update. 

On 31st May 2023 Fred died (quite suddenly, after a short illness), leaving an enormous void in all things Beer Guide (London is just one of around 20 Guides that Fred set up online).

And in early May 2024, I am moving from London to Bruges. While one can never predict the future, this move is likely to be for the long term. It’s just not realistic or practical to continue my current role – visiting new pubs, bars and brewery taps, and tracking, recording and publicising changes in the beer scene in London – while living in a different country. So for these reasons I will not be continuing my work on the Guide.

Losing both co-founders within a year – albeit for entirely different reasons – presents a significant challenge, but we recognise that many people enjoy our work, and we’re extremely grateful for all the positive feedback.

At the minute, the IT side of the Guide is being looked after by Fred’s brother Bob, but this should only be considered a holding position and there is no guarantee that Beer Guide London or any of the sister sites will continue to have available the IT platform which Fred set up and looked after.  We are greatly indebted to Bob for his work to keep things ticking over for now.

For the last five years or so it’s been great to have Steve Jackson (@musinganorak) on board as both an extra researcher and a crucial sounding board. I’ve really enjoyed working with Steve on the Guide and greatly appreciate all his help and advice.  We have very similar views about the Guide’s criteria and which places should be included – or not – and that advice has proved invaluable over the years we’ve been working together.

While the Guide may or may not have a long-term future (given the IT situation in the post-Fred era), I’m delighted that Steve has agreed to try to keep things going for the moment.  Below he explains more about the interim arrangements that we’re putting in place.

Jezza, March 2024

The Time’s They Are A Changin – a note from Steve:

As I am sure the majority of you reading this know Jeremy has made public the news that he is living his dream and moving to Bruges for the not inconsiderable future. The first thing to do is pass on my public congratulations on achieving this step, I know it has been a long held ambition. Expect to see an awful lot of updates to Beer Guide Brugge in the next few years, and maybe even a mooted Beer Guide Brussels. This news comes after we suffered the sad, untimely, passing of Guide co-founder Fred last year. The two of them made the Guide what we know today.

So where does this leave the Guide?

I would love to be able to say that everything will continue as before, but I can’t. I will forever be in awe of the time and energy Jeremy put in to checking and re-checking Guide entries. This really is his baby. I am equally honoured to have been asked to join him as a lowly assistant. I shared his vision and enthusiasm, just not quite his stamina. We worked well together because we got on with each other from day one and we shared the same views as to what constituted the requirements to go in to the Guide. We have never disagreed over an entry, current or potential. This complete lack of animosity has made working on the Guide a pleasure, and never a chore.

However, I am not in the fortunate position of either living or working in London. I’m tucked away on the outer edge, near LHR, which makes every research journey more of a military operation and I certainly can’t squeeze Guide research around ‘handy work meetings’ in a way that Jeremy could when he was working.

It would be easy to quit and leave the current version of the Guide as an homage, but I don’t think that this would be fair on anybody. A lot of you look to our guidance, I have no idea why but I thank each and every one of you!

We, therefore, have been trying to find a way to keep things rolling along, albeit at a slightly slower pace than currently. For a while now there has been a loose “committee” of trusted friends who have provided valuable feedback on the ever changing beer scene, alerting us to new venues, checking them out and updating us on changes to current entries. Going forward, the Guide will be more reliant on this approach. It is going to take a group of us to be able to come anywhere close to the amount of work that Jeremy put in.

The other elephant in the room is a consequence of Fred’s passing. He wrote the database, the website and the app. He knew all of its foibles and we are no longer able to e-mail him at any time of day when a problem occurs. For now it is all still ticking along, but we have no idea as to how long this will continue. I am therefore looking at other ways of presenting the Guide data to make it as accessible as possible. I don’t know yet what this approach might end up looking like, but I do know that I don’t want to lose all of the valuable data that has been accumulated over the years.

So, hopefully the Guide will continue but you may notice some changes. Bear with us, we will do our best to provide the same level of information we always have. It may just take a little bit longer.

And, finally, if you feel that you can offer assistance in any way, no matter how small, then please do get in touch and we can have a chat over a beer some time, somewhere!

Steve, March 2024