Annabel Smith has been named Educator of the Year at the Imbibe Personality of the Year Awards. In an unusual twist, the judges awarded the accolade to two nominees, the other being Myles Cunliffe of the Mixology Group.
Smith is a veteran of the beer industry, having previously held roles as a long term licensee, training manager at Diageo GB and The Cask Marque Trust. More recently she has set up her own training and events company, BeerBelle. She was one of the first qualified Beer Sommeliers in the UK and is a founder member of Dea Latis, the group set up to make beer a more appealing proposition to women. Over the past two years she has undertaken a number of educational projects, most prominently with the industry wide ‘There’s a Beer for That’ campaign. She still acts as a training consultant for Cask Marque and heads up a team of nationwide trainers for them.
Entrants were asked to nominate themselves, supported by organisations they had delivered educational programmes to. Shortlisted nominees were then asked to submit a written application providing information about their credentials, successes and future strategy.
Chris Losh, Editor of Imbibe magazine, announced the award by saying, “Our first winner has made the journey from pub landlady to beer expert, and has a long-established track-record of making beer accessible for all. She’s been a trainer for Diageo, Cask Marque’s first female beer inspector, and the co-founder of an organisation promoting beer to women in and outside the industry. Whether as an educator or a regular guest on both radio and TV, she continues to use her passion, enthusiasm, and down to earth approach to inspire others”.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Beer Sommelier and British Guild of Beer Writers member Jane Peyton, who won the Educator of the Year in 2016, Imbibe has clearly recognised the growing importance and impact of education in the beer industry.
Smith said, “I was both delighted and stunned that the Imbibe judges had chosen to recognise a beer educator for another year running. Beer training and knowledge benefits the whole of the hospitality industry, and is a refreshing change for consumers who are becoming increasingly adventurous and curious about the beer category as a whole”.
The ceremony was held at Oriole Bar situated in Smithfield Market and was attended by hundreds of industry professionals.