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Tributes paid to beer ‘institution’ Payne

Tributes have been paid to Glenn Payne, a man described as an “institution” of the British beer industry who transformed the UK craft beer scene, after he was found dead on a beach in Wales.

Glenn Payne. Credit: LinkedIn

The 61-year-old’s body was found on a Carmarthenshire beach on Sunday morning, according to reports from the BBC. 

An influential beer writer, brewer and former senior beer buyer for the off-trade, Payne worked as senior beer buyer for the supermarket Safeway from 1997 until 2004. His work to bring American craft beers to the off-trade was described as “revolutionary”, helping to shape the UK’s craft beer industry.

Payne later became sales and marketing director at Meantime Brewing, of which he was a founding investor, and served as a judge for numerous beer festivals. A member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, in later years Payne founded Beer2Love, a food and drink consultancy firm.

Paying tribute to a man he described as “an institution”, Alastair Hook, brewmaster and founder of Meantime Brewing described Payne as a “man so kind of spirit that he would drop his plans at any time in the pursuit of pleasure for others.”

“If anyone has read Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘The Tipping Point’ they will recognise ‘Glenn’ in his chapter about ‘Mavens’….. Without the institution of ‘Glenn’ we could still be walking in to our local boozer and getting a choice of warm ale, cold lager or Guinness”, he said in a tribute posted to Meantime’s website.

Acknowledging his contribution to the industry further, Hook added: “He opened the supermarket door to the new wave of American, European and British beers that were hereto being ‘gagged’ by the use of indiscriminate listing fees. It was here that he gendered an astonishing relationship with the brewers of the American craft brewing revolution that has now changed the brewing world for good.”

Beer writer Roger Protz said Payne’s biggest contribution to the industry was to change the way supermarkets viewed beer, which before he took over at Safeway was “confined to heavily discounted brands from big brewers”.

“Glenn introduced drinkers to great beer from independent brewers and showed, above all, that american beer did have taste. He became an expert in the field by visiting major brewing countries to seek out the finest brews. When Safeway morphed into Morrison’s, Glenn used his time to good effect by judging beer festivals, in the US in particular, and by using his experience to help guide Meantime Brewery in London. I will miss his knowledge and experience of the world of beer and his uniquely droll sense of humour.”

Dyfed-Powys Police said inquiries into Mr Payne’s final movements are continuing, but that his death was not being treated as suspicious.

A funeral service will be held on 17 December 17, at 11am, at Llanelli Crematorium.

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