For some reason there’s a liver-punishingly dense concentration of beer festivals taking place in London this week, followed by a much more relaxed schedule for the remainder of the month. Here are the highlights; as always let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything.
2-5 July: Ealing Beer Festival
Threatening somewhere in the region of 300 real ales, 30 ciders and perries, and an impressive range of European bottled beers, this is one of London’s largest annual beer festivals. From midday tomorrow until the beer runs out on Saturday, £4 (or £2 for CAMRA members) will allow you one day’s entry to the site in the middle of Walpole Park, and a further £3 will get you an all-important festival glass with which to consume the “reasonably” priced drinks. Satisfyingly unpretentious foodstuffs of the pie/sausage/curry/hog variety will be available, and a special ‘Beer and Cheese Tasting’ (requiring a separate ticket) will take place at 5pm tomorrow, with cheeses provided by Ealing’s local Cheddar Deli shop. See the festival’s website for more details.
3 July: City Beerfest
The impressive surroundings of Guildhall Yard host what must be one of the briefest open-air beer festivals in London, running from 3:30pm to 9pm on Thursday 3 July. Many of the beers are supplied by well-established large breweries (Fuller’s, Marston’s, Wells & Young’s, Greene King, etc.), so attendees are unlikely to encounter any great palate-challengers, although the list does include some dependably decent ales. Entry is free, but you can buy beer tokens in advance to beat the queues.
3-6 July: The White Horse American Beer Festival
Another welcome annual fixture sees Parson Green’s excellent beer-focused pub, The White Horse (a.k.a. the ‘Sloaney Pony’), conducting a celebration of beers from, or in the style of, US craft brewers in their American Beer Festival (PDF). As always the festival is timed to coincide with Independence Day, and if previous years are anything to go by, it should deliver some excellent examples of contemporary stateside brewing. Warn your wallet though: some of those imported transatlantic brews are every bit as expensive as they are supercharged with hops and alcohol.
4-5 July: The Gun “Independents” Day Beer and BBQ Festival
Notable Docklands gastro-pub and beer haven, The Gun, has gone one step further with the July 4th theme, punning on the independence of their featured brewers, while promising an assortment of Americana with beers, food and music all taking a transatlantic tinge. The confirmed beer list, while not huge, appears well-judged and well-balanced, and the views from the Thameside pub should also deliver satisfaction.
4-5 July: Cuddington Beer Festival
Expect a local atmosphere at this Worcester Park scout group-organised beer festival, which runs in three four-hour sessions from Friday evening to Saturday evening. More than 30 real ales and ciders should be available, with advance tickets available for £5 online or from a couple of local retailers. It looks like the venue is a bit of a trek from the nearest stations, so the festival organisers have laid on a free coach service.
4-5 July: Hersham Festival
Further into Surrey (but still within the M25) is another beer festival associated with a local scout group. The annual Hersham Festival offers not just an appealing selection of beer, cider and perry, but also live comedy from Arthur Smith, Romesh Ranganathan and others, as well as live music from several local bands. The cheaper early-bird tickets have all sold out, but some non-discounted ones are still available (from £17.60 upwards).
12 July: London Vegan Beer Fest
Back for a second year, this one-day event in Bethnal Green celebrates a love of beer made without animal-derived ingredients. In many cases this beer will be slightly hazy, as the ‘finings’ used to clarify most beers are often made from isinglass or eggs, but this shouldn’t put you off, especially as unfined beers have become more popular recently (regardless of their vegan-friendliness). The rather pretty brochure (PDF) promises beer from seven small UK brewers, as well as vegan food, live music, and charity karaoke; advance tickets for the latter part of the day are still available for £8.
24-27 July: Wandsworth Common Summer Beer Festival
This latest beer festival at the magnificent Le Gothique venue sees the London Brewers Alliance promoting the capital’s burgeoning brewing scene by showcasing somewhere in the region of 120 different beers from London-based brewers. Advanced booking is mandatory (there will be no tickets on the door) and in most cases entry costs £10 – although the £25 entry fee for the preview night on the Thursday includes “all you can drink” beer from cask and keg.
If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, why not buy the Londonist book of London pub crawls for less than the price of a pint.