August sees the return of the ‘big boy’ of annual beer festivals in London: CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival. But drinking opportunities are certainly not limited to this behemoth; there are plenty of other festivals in London over the next month. We’ve selected some of the more interesting ones; as always let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything notable.
7-16 August: London Beer City
Returning for a second year, London Beer City comprises a week (or so) of beer-related events in various locations around the capital, focussing on (but not exclusive to) London-brewed beer. The packed schedule features tastings, tap takeovers, brewery open days, brewing workshops, talks, walks, music and general partying. Collaboration is the name of the game here, so organisers have worked closely with members of the London Brewers Alliance, and teamed up with Fourpure Brewing Co to produce a summery pale ale to mark the week’s festivities.
11-15 August: CAMRA Great British Beer Festival
The CAMRA Great British Beer Festival (a.k.a. GBBF) has become so well-established over the last few decades that the organisers clearly gave up trying to make changes to the formula a long time ago. We can see their point — whatever you think of CAMRA, it’s hard to fault the organisational prowess of a beer festival that, year after year, manages to serve up more than 900 different real ales (from more than 350 British breweries), typically in excellent condition, to 50,000 attendees over a five-day period, in one of London’s largest exhibition halls (Olympia). A wide variety of beer-soaking food, and a selection of utterly superfluous live entertainment also features, but make no mistake — the beers are the real attraction here. Tickets cost £10 in advance (£8 for CAMRA members), or a couple of quid more on the door. See the GBBF website for all the details.
13-16 August: London Craft Beer Festival
Providing an alternative to the real-ale/non-hipster-beard/beer-belly stylings of the GBBF, the London Craft Beer Festival positions itself as a younger, cooler event, as evidenced by the claim (for the third year running) that it is “a new kind of festival”. Unlike the GBBF, tickets for the London Craft Beer Festival are ‘all inclusive’ — £38.50 will buy you entry to one five-hour session, a tasting glass, and unlimited 90ml tasters of any of the beers being served by 25 or so independent brewers.
If you’re looking for something on a more modest scale, there are several less monstrously-sized beer festivals taking place in (or around) London in the next month:
- As we mentioned last month, the Epping Ongar Railway Real Ale Festival runs from today until Sunday. Beer, trains, buses. Nice.
- Stratford’s Tap East is celebrating beers from Yorkshire, including one-off collaborations, with their aptly-named Yorkshire Open Brewhouse Beer Festival, which starts today and runs all weekend.
- The Hope in Peckham is celebrating World Beer Day (yes, apparently that’s actually a thing) from 4pm on 7 August with their ‘Around the World in 18 Beers’ event.
- Normally a weekday-only opener, Holborn’s pub-that-is-actually-in-Cambridgeshire, Ye Olde Mitre is planning to showcase past winners of the CAMRA Champion Beer Of Britain award over the weekend of the Great British Beer Festival (15-16 August).
- Alexandra Palace will be hosting their Street Food & Craft Beer Festival on 22 August. Expect 20 craft beers (or Pimms, for those who are that way inclined), tasty food and a variety of live music and DJs; entrance is free and the festival runs from 11am until 10pm.
- For one day only, 29 August, the Orpington Liberal Club Beer and Cider Festival will be serving up 22 real ales, as well as a selection of ciders and perries. A £6 advance ticket will pay for your first two pints, and all further pints will cost a mere £3.
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.