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London Craft Beer Festival 2018!
The haze is slowly clearing, and we are looking back on what has to be one of the best beer festivals ever held in the UK.
This year was the biggest yet for the people behind London Craft Beer Festival, taking on the historic Tobacco Dock and turning it into a maze of incredible beer, street food and music. The last few years felt like the world’s best house party, while this year was on a whole new scale in one of London’s most iconic sites. But they absolutely nailed it.
It was a big year for us too. We’ve had a takeaway stall at every festival since 2015 and at the same time have imported some very special Lervig beers to be poured at the brewery’s stand. But this time we had nearly 250 different beers in our pop-up shop – including rare Americans such as Finback and Against the Grain and beers from people are far flung as Australia’s Kaiju – as well as seven of our import brands pouring and five of our British breweries. In fact, all told, we represent one in seven of the breweries that were there.
Lervig took a whole archway, and their resident artist Nanna Guldbaek decked it out with an amazing bar and pop-up people – the crowds went mad for Going Nowhere, the official beer of the festival, as well as their new core beer House Party. We’re really excited for the future of this beer, which is endlessly drinkable but has a big pineapple aroma and a decent hit of bitterness. Lervig are so well known for their bold, experimental beers but they have a finesse and lighter touch in their smaller beers that mark them out as very special indeed.
Next door to them, our new Canadian brewery Collective Arts had eight beers pouring, DJs playing, loads of merch for sale and some live art going down, truly announcing their arrival in style. Regularly heard over the music though were the guys behind the stall at White Hag, who were impressing people with their bog ale and Puca beers.
Sweltering in one of the non-shaded parts of the festival were Garage Brew Co, pouring their delicious hazy IPAs and some very refreshing fruited sours, which is also the speciality of Oedipus from the Netherlands who we have just started working with. Lindheim and Loverbeer were there too, pouring their spontaneous fruit beers to general astonishment among drinkers, who had no idea these kinds of beers had reached such quality and maturity outside of Belgium.
The British brewers were creating plenty of noise too. We’ve claimed it and been wrong many times, but craft lager is finally becoming the force it has always threatened to be and in the 30 degree heat Lost and Grounded slaked the thirst of hundreds of drinkers while Wild Beer Co poured mixed ferm beers as good as anyone in the world.
Our range of brewers is a microcosm of the incredible work and talent in the brewing industry today. If it felt like the beer world was changing super fast for the last five years, it feels like it’s only going to get faster. In a market that used to have no variation at all, we’re now lucky enough to have access to every flavour under the sun in Europe. On top of our own breweries we were amazed by the quality of the beers on show, both from breweries we know who have rapidly improved to new guys on the block we had never heard of – in particular the four winners of the Raise the Bar competition that we hosted at the Beer Merchants Tap. Box Car, Burnt Mill, Unity and West By Three will all be names well known around the UK by this time next year.
While the traditional brewing nations of Belgium and Germany will always be in our hearts, we’ve put a lot of time, effort and passion into creating a portfolio that is suitable for every kind of pub, bar and restaurant in the UK – whether you have 20 taps of the most exciting and unusual beer or one quality pouring lager to match some beautiful food. We’re really proud to work with all the breweries we’ve listed here, and also proud to be part of a burgeoning beer scene that allows us to spend our weekends like this.
All images courtesy of Lily Waite & We Are Beer.