What a great day I had down in London yesterday, after being invited to the third Craft Beer Rising beer festival trade session. I bought tickets for the evening as there was no point in just going along for three hours, I had to have a couple or three more to do it justice.
The huge event is part of the larger London Beer Week – where pubs and breweries (and eateries) in London celebrate all things beer.
Last year I was amazed at how much space there was to move around – it was busy but not packed full. Well the trade session this year was RAMMED, with people from pubs, breweries, bloggers like me, and just tons of beer people. A few times I walked / struggled past a brewery stand and promised myself to visit it early in the evening session, which I did. The evening session was of course open to the public, and was much easier to navigate, again being busy but in a good way, and it was easy to get to not only try beers, but also chat with the brewers.
The New Zealand Posse are in Town
The New Zealand collective bar was always busy and popular, with a ton of great beers to try. I managed to try beer from three different NZ breweries, my favourite from last year Renaissance, plus the Yeasty Boys and Three Boys. I’ve read they are bringing a huge container full of NZ beer across to the UK soon, so if you see some, try it quick!
One of the interesting things at this craft ale festival is the number of large traditional breweries most of whom bring along something quite different. Even Guinness were there, handing out samples of their two new brews, the West Indies porter and Dublin porter. I tried the stronger West Indies porter, and it wasn’t too bad. Diageo (the parent company) have obviously seen that craft beer is no fad, and continues strong growth, and it wants a bit of it.
With 500 or so beers, I kept to just having 1/3 of pints, as it was such a great chance to try beers I’ve never had before. I’m no ticker, but I still like to find new favourite beers, else why go to beer fests?!
I did go back to an old favourite though – not a beer, a fantastic sausage roll. The Jack Horner sausage rolls are just fantastic – with a generous dollop of English mustard. I have hoped they would come to our local Peterborough beer festival, but I’m told they may be at another food event at the time.
Beer in cans, whatever next?
I also tried to learn something while I was there, so went along to one of the ‘talks’. Beer writing supremo Mellisa Cole ran a session on putting craft beer in cans, joined by brewers from Beavertown, Camden, and Fourpure, and Jamie from themthatcan.com, who are starting a mobile canning service.
Now I’ve been buying craft in cans for a few years now – the first coming from America via Beer Merchants. While canned beer has a bad image, and it’s often thought ‘better beer’ goes into bottles, that certainly isn’t so true in the craft world. Canning beer keeps all the oxygen off the ale, and aluminium = no light = better fresher beer. There’s also logistical reasons why cans are better – lighter, easier to stack = more on a pallet etc.
If you love beer, and love trying something different, get along to Craft Beer Rising asap – it’s open until the end of Sunday (22nd Feb 2015), and a few tickets are still available I believe. It’s taking place in the old Truman Brewery down Brick Lane (it’s a huge complex of buildings).
The Beers That Made me Happy n Hoppy
So below is the fine list of beers I had during my day in London, four of which were in the Shoreditch Brewdog (my first visit there) which was a fine place to stop and sample before the festival let me in, and then again between sessions (when it was very popular with many from CBR looking for somewhere warm out of the rain while we waited the hour for the evening session).
- Brewdog; All day long; a 2.7% decent low alcohol beer, as they say, you surely could drink it all day long.
- Stone; IPA. I’d to my shame not had much Stone beer until I tried some in Leeds earlier this week, so I’ve made up for it now, having their flagship beer, a classic USA IPA.
- Stone; Quadrotricale. Wow this was a big beer, just a 1/3 to warm me up after being out in the rain/cold.
- Mikkeller; Brew puppy – Mikkeller beers are often found in Brewdog bars, and they usually hit the mark, as this one did. Grapefruit n citrus, an unfined pale ale. Amazed it was only 5.2 as feels like a meaty USA IPA.
- Yeastie boys; Gunnamatta IPA – what a beer this was! A good NZ IPA stuffed full of tea leaves. It creates a really really different taste, kinda spiced rather traditional ‘tea’ flavour – but then I don’t drink Earl Gray (or much tea) so I’m not a good one to judge. Quite special.
- St Austell; Steady as she Gose – yep a gose style beer from St Austell – and it wasn’t bad at all. Subtle salt – for those who don’t want their sour beer too sour.
- Bad seed; Barrel aged Saison. A honey and ginger hint with tons of oak, I believe 6 months in those barrels maturing. I’m not a fan of oaked wine, but beer can be stunning.
- Signature brew; Backstage IPA. Not a bad IPA – but possibly my tastebuds were not as sensitive after being attacked by some of the other bigger IPAs. A brewery which is looking to crowdfunding to help grow.
- Portobello; VPA. As it says on the tin, a very pale pale ale. Quite refreshing and light, reminded me more of a hopped lager.
- Three Boys IPA. Another New Zealand based brewery collective. Not a bad IPA – didn’t match the Renaissance MIPA but not much does for me.
- Beavertown Bloody ell. OK I had this in Leeds earlier in the week, but this time it was FROM A CAN. They were given out as part of the chat on canning craft beer, rude not to have one. It’s a stunning beer and the can keeps it how it was intended by the brewer, so win-win. Orange and highly hopped IPA, what’s not to like.
- Fourpure– Transatlantic Overdrive. A collab beer with American brewers Bear Republic. Big American hopped IPA. I think this is the last of this beer so I was lucky to try some.
- Fourpure; American red. Loved this beer – improved on the good Overdrive. A red ale, but far from a malty beer, stuffed full of hop.
- Williams bros brewing Co; Joker IPA. This beer couldn’t excite my taste buds – not enough hop flavour to make me stand up and take note. Not a bad beer by any means, probably more balanced and not hop forward than the style I go for.
- Nene Valley Brewery; Release the Chimps. I think this may be a special – decent beer from the only ‘local’ brewery (to me, not the festival).
- Nene Valley Brewery; Bible Black Stout – I just had to have a sample of this again as it won Pboro beer festival champion beer (which I was a judge for), a good 6.5% stout.
- Lagunitas; Lagunitas sucks. The big brother to the now very available Lagunitas IPA. Rye, Wheat and oats join the malt, but it’s the hops which sing to me. Great beer.
- Beer Cat (Spain)- Pa i Roses. Wheat beer flavoured with lime peel, giving it a nice refreshing citrus edge (rather than the usual banana).
- Guinness; West Indies porter. Not too bad actually – way better than standard Guinness.
- Thornbridge; Jaipur X. I was really looking forward to trying this, the ten year anniversary version of the very popular and good Jaipur. I was really let down. Again maybe due to the number of beers I had tasted I didn’t ‘get’ the flavours in this right, but I felt in the race to add abv, the malt was dominating and the hop was lost in this one. Needed far more hop to balance the strength out in my opinion.
- Renaisance – MIPA. Once again this was up there in my favourite beers of the day, just as it was last year. I just love those NZ hops which really burst out of this beer (from bottle). I’d love to go to NZ just to taste it fresh!
Gallery of images from the day
Click on any image to see it larger…