Social Media Buttons



What's new?

What's new?
My next beer book is fully funded but there's still time to pledge! Click here for details.
My latest @morningad column: what I did on my holidays
Busy autumn with lots of book events lined up. Check to see if there're any near you.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Craft Beer Rising

The thing I heard said by people most often at yesterday's trade session for the above event: "This is so much better than last year."

They said it was better organised. The stands were better. The space was used more effectively. And most interestingly: "Last year it was just the same old regional brewers bringing their ordinary beers and saying, 'Hey, we're craft brewers!' This year they've had a look, gone away and made some new and interesting beers."

The 'craft' ranges from the regionals were joined by true craft stalwarts such as Brew Dog, Thornbridge and Beavertown, as well as lots of US imports and plenty of brewers I've never seen before.

The food was amazing too - the stand that claimed to offer the 'the best ham sandwich you ever tasted' did a pretty good job of backing it up.

I didn't taste any beers that changed my life, or even my preferences. But I didn't taste a beer I didn't enjoy either.

Hipsters and young brewers mixed with industry greybeards and CAMRA stalwarts. All those 'craft versus keg' debates and other reductive musings suddenly seemed very old-fashioned and irrelevant. I only had one conversation all afternoon with people who were worried about a definition of craft beer. Everyone else seemed happy enough just drinking it.

I would post a link if you want tickets, but they've all sold out. If you've got one, lucky you. You're in for a treat.

Nearly two months into 2014, it was a great start to my beery year. I intend to continue in a similar relaxed, celebratory vein.


Dave Haste said...

I half agree with this. I went to the Friday evening session, and I would concur that it's a great festival, with an interesting mix of exhibitors and some cracking beers.

However, I think you're being a bit harsh about last year's event. In particular, I cannot agree with the comment that "last year it was just the same old regional brewers bringing their ordinary beers". From the best of my (admittedly cloudy) recollection, there was a great mix of new and well-established brewers last year too, and they certainly did not just bring their "ordinary beers".

Sharps, in particular, seemed very keen (both last year and this year) to showcase and talk about some of their lesser-known and more experimental brews, and I'm not sure there was a pint of Doom Bar to be seen, thankfully!

Pete Brown said...

Hi Dave,

I didn't get to last year's event. If you look, I was merely quoting what people who had been to both were saying on Friday. Enough of them were saying similar things for me to feel it was worth mentioning. Whether that's harsh or not, there's no taking away from how good it is this year.

Cooking Lager said...

Jeez, has it not risen yet? It's been at it long enough.

Pete Brown said...

I'd day it's now positively tumescent, Cookie.

Graham said...

I'm glad to hear that it was better than last year. Last year's event was horrible. The beer choice was pretty bland (I still find it hard to use the words "Greene King" and "Craft Beer" in the same sentence), the food was dull (but still managed to fill one room with acrid smoke), the queues for tokens and loos were ridiculous.
It was good to see the regionals making an effort on the whole with lesser known and new brews. I did get a mini barrel of Adnam's Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale from the brewery last week; it was one of the best beers I've had this year.

BarryOnions said...

I agree Pete - the guys did really well this year. Possibly the best beer event in the 2014 calendar?

CAMRA could definitely learn a thing or 2...

I particularly liked what the guys at Left Coast Distribution were doing with some great American beers (brand new to market).

Parrot said...

I've been to many a beer festival since the very first CAMRA one in the then recently closed Covent garden Flower market back in 1975. Craft Beer Rising is definitely the best I've ever been to and I eventually realised why. It was like wine festivals that I've been to in that the wonderfully complex ales were being served to you from individual brewery stands, by the enthusiastic people that worked where they were made instead of by stewards. This gave you a much bigger picture of the ales and their production. The only thing I'd do next time is arrive later as tasting these wonderful beers for five hours took it's toll!

Krispy said...

My first time this year, Friday night, and loved it. Completely different to the CAMRA festivals.. chatting with the brewers (or their reps) at their own stands in a really relaxed setting was great.

got offered so many tasters that I probably drank half again what I paid for.

Sausage rolls to die for too!

Phil said...

"Your family and your country are to die for. Food is to eat." - Marty Crane