Appreciate a good brew or seven? Get yourself to one of these beer festivals in March.
15-17 March: Dog & Bell St Patrick’s Real Ale Festival
While many would associate one specific brand of mass-market keg stout with the vast majority of St Patrick’s Day celebrations, there’s plenty of scope for marking the occasion with other brewed beverages. To prove the point, Deptford’s wonderfully old-school Dog & Bell will be pouring somewhere in the region of 20 real ales, independently sourced from Ireland, as part of its St Patrick’s Real Ale Festival.
Alongside the ale, this proper old boozer will be serving up home-cooked Irish-influenced food, and put on traditional Irish music. Festivities kick off on Friday 15 March, and run until the Sunday.
16 March: Cask 2019
We’re happy to observe the slow but steady evolution of the perception of cask-conditioned beer, often seen as a boring, low-quality, cheap pub drink, but now being rightly recognised as a potentially unique, specialist, artisan serving style. We’ve always argued that the ‘craft beer’ moniker does not need to exclude cask-conditioned ales (although many have disagreed with us), so it’s good to see a festival focussing on cask beer from a handsome selection of ‘craft’ brewers.
Cask 2019 runs for one day only (and at the time of writing, tickets only remain for the evening session) in the TESTBED1 venue, conveniently located near the western end of the Bermondsey Beer Mile. A £20 ticket gives you entry to a five-hour session, a festival glass and programme, and tokens for six half-pints of beer from any of the festival’s 42 featured brewers. Further half-pint tokens are available for £2.50 each, which initially seems quite steep when compared to the prices of pub-served cask ale, but when you consider that many of the beers will be unique one-off expressions, it’s probably not a bad deal.
27-31 March: Wandsworth Common Spring Beer Festival
As regular as clockwork, the end of the month welcomes the 11th instalment of the Wandsworth Common Spring Beer Festival. Attendees of previous years’ events will know the formula by now: 150-ish beers and ciders served up in Hogwarts... sorry, the grounds of Wandsworth Common’s impressive Grade II listed Royal Victoria Patriotic Building (AKA 'Le Gothique'). There's food and live music to go with.
The festival’s main sessions run from 1pm to 11pm on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with an entrance fee of £5 (less for CAMRA members) on the door. Online pre-registration is highly recommended to guarantee entry. Alternatively, a pre-booked £30 ‘all-inclusive’ ticket provides entry to the preview night from 6pm on the Wednesday, with all drinks (and a tasting glass) included in the ticket price.
Finally, for those who feel inclined to make the ambitious case for combining Mother’s Day with a beer festival, a pre-booked £20 ticket gives you access to a session from 1pm to 6pm on the Sunday, with a roast meal and one pint of beer included.
If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, check out our ever-expanding database of the best pubs in London.