In “Meet a Member,” we highlight the people who make up the North American Guild of Beer Writers. It’s a chance to learn more about the wide collection of journalists, podcasters, bloggers, and vloggers who cover the industry. See and archive of these Q&A profiles.
Where can people find your work?
Good Beer Hunting, Pellicle, BBC Culture
What topics do you regularly cover?
Racism is the lettering that runs through the stick of rock that is my career—people relate to my personal insight on this issue. But I’m also really interested in the unheard stories of pubs, publicans and punters—they can be radical places and, sadly, they can be ultra conservative unsafe areas.
What topics would you like to cover more in the future?
I’m obsessed with racial segregation in the UK mainly because so few people know that it happened. Apartheid to many is something that happened in South Africa but while we sanctioned that country the UK was barring people of color from its discos, pubs and skilled jobs. It’s a secret shame that needs to be discussed in public.
People should consider me an expert on ____ … :
South London breweries. I live in Lewisham and we’re gifted with an array of awesome beer makers that produce very different drinks. Any residual skepticism I held about craft was blown away by Villages in Deptford who experiment with flavors but produce beer that has changed my palate ending up with me grudgingly ordering a Cosmic Disco Egg or Big Salad IPA. Then in the other direction, you have Kernel which makes serious beer seriously well. I’m a fanboy of both.
What’s a favorite thing you’ve created in the last year?
I have to say that my definitive work (so far) was published recently. My essay into the life of anti-racist campaigner Avtar Singh Jouhl took months and months of research and allowed me to explore world events, such as the partition of India, war rationing, Malcolm X and the colour bar in UK pubs, which saw white rooms only. I wept when the Jouhl family were really overjoyed with the piece as they entrusted me with their lives and they had a natural skepticism towards journalists who only superficially engaged with the subject matter.
How did you get into covering beer?
By accident. I’m interested in culture, social history and unique stories but I’ve found my pitches ignored by mainstream publications because I have what I thought was a unique background—my parents repressed their Asian culture and pretended we were very British. It turns out that I’m not the only Empire child like this, but commissioning editors (who were always white) had a fixed idea as to what race should be about. Because beer writing wants to be more inclusive my pitches were read, especially after the fallout of the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
What’s a fun fact, hidden talent, or something you enjoy that has nothing to do with beer?
I’m a vintage gamer and I have a lifelong obsession with Tetris-style games gained from my mum! No one can beat me at Super Puzzle Fighter. Maybe my mother can.
Meet more NAGBW Members