For information about my tutored tastings, consultancy, led walks, beer tours and other services I can offer, see my In Person page.
Amongst other things, I’m a beer writer, beer educator and accredited beer sommelier. Yes, I know, it’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it. Actually sometimes it can seem like hard work, for example if you’re sitting on a judging panel for a beer competition and have 30 beers to taste and rate before lunchtime, half of which are No or Low Alcohol Beers, but I grant you it’s not as bad as moving furniture, cleaning toilets or completely revising a £5 million project budget with a two-hour deadline and only a basic knowledge of calculated fields in Excel to help you. I know, I’ve done them all.
I’m based in London, and though I was born in England, have an English mother and speak English as a first language, my dad was Dutch. I can just about muddle through in Dutch and have even managed to judge beers using it — remarkably, I know quite a few technical brewing terms which aren’t in the usual vocabulary of second language speakers at my level.
July 2011 saw the publication of my first book, The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars, at a time when the ‘green shoots’ of the brewing renaissance were starting to show. I like to think my book made at least a small contribution to the subsequent explosion of London brewing. A new edition, essentially a near-complete rewrite, appeared in 2015, and like its predecessor won me the Best Travel Writing award from the British Guild of Beer Writers.
I also compile the UK listings for editors Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb’s Pocket Beer Book (Pocket Beer Guide in the US), a modern successor to the late Michael Jackson’s regular update on the world beer scene. This appeared in 2013 and 2014 and a new edition should appear shortly.
Since 2002 I’ve been writing regular bottled beer reviews for the member magazines of Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) , first for What’s Brewing, then for BEER, as well as the occasional feature on topics like beer retailing and pub and brewery walks. Among others I’ve contributed to both runs of the now-defunct UK-based newsstand glossy Beers of the World, Beer Advocate in the US, Time Out, Londonist website, Hoptical magazine (Beer Hawk), Craft Beer Rising magazine, Canadian title Buze, and the beer-themed entry in the world famous series of postmillennial canon-forming tomes, 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die.
I’ve hosted numerous talks and tutored tastings, including at the Great British Beer Festival, the Ludlow Food Festival and the Groningen Beer Festival in the Netherlands, and judged beer at competitions in the UK (Beer Awards, Champion Beer of Britain, International Beer Challenge, World Beer Awards), the USA (World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival), the Netherlands (Bokbierfestival), Ireland (Killarney Beer Festival) and Italy (Birra del’Anno).
I drink and judge beers from across the world in a wide variety of styles, though I’ve got most experience of the beer scenes in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and increasingly the USA.. What really interests me is how beer is appreciated and received, the culture that surrounds it and how that relates to wider features of the societies that produce and consume it, and the places where it is made. Beer is an artefact of human society, not a simple intoxicant but capable of being enjoyed and appreciated in the same way as all the other finer things in life, and should be celebrated as such. Thus the title of this site, and the philosophy behind the writing collected here.
The site was started mainly to archive my tasting notes and pieces about specific beers that have appeared in diverse places over the years, but I’m also hoping to add news, and information and views about places and events, as well as features, both reprints of pieces that have appeared elsewhere and original pieces that I feel should see the light of day but can’t find any takers for.
There has been much discussion online on the issue of ethics in beer blogging and writing, so you may like to know that I’m an independent, freelance writer, not employed by a brewery or any other organisation involved in the brewing industry, though I have worked for a variety of different breweries and beer retailers on a paid freelance basis. The material on this blog represents my honest opinions.
This blog isn’t sponsored or financed by anyone other than me, with the exception of the pitiful handful of pennies that occasionally accumulates on a pay-per-click basis from the Google Ads in the clearly marked panel in the left hand column. Much of the material is original, though some of it was originally written on a paid-for basis for print publications. This is always clearly indicated.
While I buy a lot of the beers I review out of my own pocket, as a beer writer I do sometimes receive free beers from breweries or distributors. I never undertake to write about a beer purely because it was supplied for free, and the fact that it was free certainly wouldn’t sway my view of the beer. Although no-one has ever offered to pay me to write positive things about a beer, I would never present such writing as my unbiased opinions.
In the interests of transparency, I have started to note in reviews whether or not they were based on tasting samples supplied by the brewery or distributor, although I haven’t had time to revise previous reviews on the site with this information where it was not included at the time.
I rarely write about beers that I don’t have something positive to say about — I usually ignore beers I’ve found technically flawed or boring and dull. This is a position shared with many beer writers and bloggers, and I know not everyone in the beer community is happy with it, arguing it’s a writer’s duty to highlight the negative aspects of the beer world alongside the positive ones. But I have limited time to write about beer, and I’d rather spend it celebrating good beers than criticising bad ones.
More about me
I also write about other things — I’ve had quite a bit published in the Ramblers magazine walk and used to be their books editor. Until May 2015 I worked for the Ramblers as a day job, mainly on promoting everyday walking for health, developing projects and doing policy work. In a more leisurely frame I have a walking blog focused on walking in London, London underfoot, at http://desdemoor.blogspot.com. I’m interested in all forms of transport and travel, but walking and trains are my favourites.
Music is another passion and I have been a musician, performer, songwriter and translator specialising in European-influenced musical cabaret and chanson. I ran a club in London putting on this sort for stuff for over 12 years from 1994. In the early-mid 2000s I had some modest success with Darkness and Disgrace, a musical cabaret from the songs of David Bowie developed with the late, great pianist and performer Russell Churney. Since then it’s tailed off a bit, though I’m currently working on more Bowie material with another pianist, Clifford Slapper See www.desdemoor.com for a now-outdated overview of my musical career.
An interest I haven’t yet managed to turn into a job is film and the moving image in general. My current Top 1,001 recommended titles list is on my IMDb profile, along with a handful of reviews.
I was born in 1961 in Ipswich, and I live in Deptford, southeast London, with my partner Ian Harris.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the site. Please leave comments, become a follower, send feedback — and visit again. Thanks.
Des de Moor