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Good Beer Hunting

Oct 16, 2021

Producing and hosting a weekly local radio show likely isn’t how most beer writers get their start—but that’s exactly where Emma Inch’s career in beer began.

With a passion for rockabilly music, which she saw as an outlet from the stress of her day job as a mental health crisis worker, Emma went from hosting club nights to approaching her local radio station with a show idea. Then a few years later—as she began noticing a change in her local beer scene in Brighton, England—she pitched an idea for a new show, and in late 2015 Fermentation Beer and Brewing Radio began.

Initially a live monthly radio show with a local focus on the beer scene in and around Brighton, Emma later decided to continue producing the show as a podcast instead. As she puts it, with most podcasts sought out rather than stumbled upon, as radio programs often are, this enabled her to not only broaden her geographical scope (from Brighton to the rest of Britain and beyond), but to narrow her focus and take a deeper dive with the stories she was telling.

And in 2018, Emma’s storytelling skills won her the U.K.’s highest accolade for a beer writer: the Michael Jackson Gold Tankard for Beer Writer of the Year. When I ask her to take us back to that moment, her memories are a bit fuzzy. Not from alcohol, but from the rather tough bout of sinusitis she was battling at the time. But when I ask her to reflect on how the win has impacted her career since, she rapturously reels off a list of the incredible opportunities it brought her way.

We also discuss the impact of her win on the industry more broadly, and what it means to be a queer woman taking home the top award in a space still dominated by straight white men. And with Emma’s recent election as Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, the organization behind the awards that recognized her work, she tells us how she’s keen to bring further focus to issues of diversity, representation, and equity within the beer writing community.

From looking forward to her newest role, we then take a look back at her longest-standing one. Alongside her current career as a drinks writer, audio maker, and podcast consultant, Emma is a part-time university lecturer in social work. We explore how that role—then and now—has influenced her perspective on the beer world, her approach to her work, and the stories she chooses to tell.