Oliver Fozard with his award

The head brewer of a pioneering family-owned Harrogate brewery is celebrating after scooping a coveted industry award.

Oliver Fozard, of Harrogate-based Rooster’s Brewing Co, was awarded the title of Brewer of the Year at the prestigious Guild of Beer Writers’ Annual Awards, which took place as a Zoom event on December 10.

The Guild’s annual competition for communications about beer and pubs received close to 150 entries across nine categories, with a record number of brewers nominated for the Brewer of the Year award, which was sponsored by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). Oliver won the highest number of votes in a poll of Guild members.

Commenting on his award win, Oliver Fozard said: “To be considered and even shortlisted for Brewer of the Year, alongside such an eclectic group of talented people, was reward enough for what has been such a challenging year for me personally, for Rooster’s and the brewing industry on the whole, but to be recognised by a some of the most knowledgeable and revered writers in our industry and winning this award isn’t something I’ll forget in a hurry. The people I have around me at work, and further afield, are particularly important to me and have kept me going throughout the year. My next pint will be raised to them!”

James Calder, chief executive of award sponsors SIBA, said: “Massive congratulations to Oliver Fozard of Rooster’s on being named the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year 2020 – I can think of no more fitting recipient of this prestigious award. Oliver’s talent of absolutely nailing a diverse range of beer styles in varying formats is second to none and the work which he has done over the last twelve months to raise awareness of mental health issues is hugely commendable and necessary. The industry is lucky to have him and on behalf of everyone at SIBA I’d like to say a huge well done and congratulations. Cheers!”

Presenting the award, Guild chair Pete Brown said: “Oliver is a hugely popular figure in the brewing industry and his win this year in our vote was decisive. He’s taken on the mantle at Rooster’s and overseen the move to a new brewhouse, while continuing to produce a stunning core range of beers at the same time as creating new ones under the Outlaw Project. But on top of that, he’s been an excellent ambassador and role model for positive mental health in the industry with the launch of collaboration beer Mind Games, and through speaking out and writing publicly about his own experiences.”

Earlier this year, Oliver, alongside fellow brewers Colin Stronge of SALT Beer Factory and Daniel Price of Exale Brewing, spoke candidly about his own struggles with anxiety and his desire to promote mental health awareness within the brewing industry.

As part of this initiative, the trio created Mind Games, a cask-only, low ABV beer, to raise awareness of mental health within the brewing industry and amongst men in general.

2020 saw Oliver, alongside his father Ian and brother Tom, complete a £850,000 investment into a new, state-of-the-art brewery and taproom at Hornbeam Park in Harrogate, enabling Rooster’s to almost double its production capacity and keep up with strong demand for its award-winning beers. Earlier this month, the brewery confirmed that its taproom will be open every day in the run-up to Christmas, with a host of different street food traders lined-up.