Following the traditional December and January ‘breather’, beer festivals are finally returning to liven up the winter gloom, and hopefully put an end to the traditional (and foolhardy) post-January abstinence. We’ve rounded up the best beer drinking opportunities that London has to offer here.
30 January-1 February: North London Brew Fest 2020
Once more, Canonbury’s excellent Snooty Fox pub marks the transition from January to February with a festival that aims to celebrate the joys of drinking beer in north London (but not, as the name seems to suggest, beer exclusively from North London). 20 cask ales from independent brewers around the UK are promised, as well as opportunities to ‘pair’ beers with both pies (on the Friday) and chocolate (on the Saturday)!
Combine a few fine ales with the Snooty Fox’s solid grub and music offerings for a fine itinerary for exiting a gloomy January in style. (We’re very much pro-Jexit here.)
6-8 February: South Norwood Beer Festival
South Norwood Beer Festival looks set to further cement its position in the annual beer festival calendar, as it returns for its fourth year to Stanley Halls (five minutes’ walk from Norwood Junction station).
As a CAMRA festival, cask-conditioned ale is the main drinking focus, with the provisional list (PDF) indicating an interesting selection of 40 real ales from around the UK, with more variety than the ‘usual suspects’ that repeatedly crop up at many of London’s beer events. The real ales are supplemented by some crafty key-kegs (TBC) and 10 ciders and perries; all served in pint, half-pint, or third-pint measures.
Doors open at 12pm each day, with festivities lasting until 10.30pm on the Thursday and Friday, or 5pm on the Saturday. Entry costs £3 (or £2 for card-carrying CAMRA members).
13-15 February: Love Beer London Keg Beer Festival
A collaboration between Craft Beer Cares, the Society of Independent Brewers (South East), and the London Brewers Alliance, this three-day festival features keg beers from almost 100 brewers (see here for the full tap list). The action takes place in the event space of the excellent Two Tribes Brewery — a cool venue only slightly marred by its mildly awkward location (somewhat north of King’s Cross).
Tickets for each half-day session cost £12, and included a branded tasting glass. All proceeds will be donated to The Benevolent drinks industry charity.
21-22 February: Cask 2020
It’s good to see this festival — which aims to celebrate the heights of excellence that well-treated cask-conditioned beer can enjoy, whilst still maintaining a contemporary ‘craft’ attitude — returning for a third year. At the time of writing, about 30 brewers have signed up, with a handful of traditional real ale titans (such as Harvey’s and Timothy Taylor’s) sharing the bill with many more modern brewers who normally only supply their beers in kegs (or cans or bottles). It’ll be interesting to see how the beers from these ‘craft’ brewers taste in a cask-conditioned format.
As this festival goes from strength to strength, it moves to a larger venue — Peckham’s Copeland Park warehouse — and spreads its two sessions over two days. The entry price has also risen (to £35 per session), but it now includes all of the beer that you want to drink.
27-29 February: The Hope Keg Beer Fest
This time last year, the CAMRA-beloved Hope pub in Carshalton devoted one of its regular beer festivals to keg beer (under the moniker ‘Evil Keg Filth’), urging their normally cask-focussed clientele to put aside their preconceptions and keep an open mind about colder, fizzier keg beers. It obviously went quite well, as they are repeating the exercise this year. As always, keep an eye on the festival’s web page for more details to emerge in due course.
If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, check out our ever-expanding database of the best pubs in London.