The beer festival calendar tends to become more sparse as we approach the end of the year, so we’re rounding up London’s best beer drinking opportunities in November and December in one hit here.
8-10 November: Watford Beer Festival
The 24th instalment of the Watford Beer Festival sees it returning to the West Herts Sports Club, a five minute walk from Watford tube station, from Thursday evening until the end of play on Saturday. The format is similar to previous years': with more than 80 beers, ciders and perries being served in the club’s function room and heated marquee, alongside hot and cold food during the lunchtimes and early evenings.
No beer list has been published at the time of writing, but it would be fair to expect a focus on real ales from breweries in the local area, balanced with some UK brews from further afield. For additional entertainment, the festival will feature a ‘pub’ quiz on the Saturday evening, with the top prize offering the opportunity to “be a brewer for a day” at Paradigm Brewery (based in the small Hertfordshire village of Sarratt).
Doors open at 4pm on Thursday, or 11am on Friday and Saturday, and the festivities last until 11pm each day. Entry will cost a mere £2.50, or nothing at all if you’re a member of CAMRA or the sports club.
4-8 December: Pig’s Ear Beer & Cider Festival
Easily the biggest (and sometimes the only) December beer festival in London, the Pig’s Ear Beer & Cider Festival returns to Hackney’s beautiful Round Chapel for its 35th instalment at the beginning of the month. The formula should be familiar to previous attendees of this venerable festival: more than 230 beers, with a typical CAMRA focus on UK cask-conditioned ales, as well as a good selection of bottled beers, ciders, and beers from overseas.
Doors open at 12pm each day, and beer is served until 10.30pm on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, or 11pm on the Friday and Saturday (or until the beer runs out). Entry costs £5 (or £3 for CAMRA members) for each of the Tuesday-Friday sessions, or a discounted rate (due to possible beer shortage) of £2 (£1 for CAMRA members) for entry on Saturday.
- Parson’s Green’s White Horse pub, long beloved mainstay of beer lovers and well-spoken West Londoners, will be staging its Old Ale Festival for a remarkable 36th year, from 22-25 November. Expect a formidable selection of dark (and sometimes strong) beers, including some rarities from European brewers.
- If you’re as interested in making beer as you are in drinking it, the return of Brew Con London to Bethnal Green’s Oval Space on 24 November will provide an afternoon of useful resources, with talks and workshops from industry experts, and a range of exhibitors showcasing their homebrewing wares. Tickets cost £15, plus booking fee.
- If the White Horse’s Old Ale Festival gives you a re-invigorated taste for dark beers, you have the opportunity to consume more of that genre one week later, courtesy of the ‘A Winter’s Ale Festival’ at the well-regarded Hope pub in Carshalton from 29 November to 1 December. As usual, the festival’s holding page remains rather sparse until close to the festival’s dates, but keep an eye on it for details to emerge.
- Following last year’s celebration of Scottish beers, Deptford’s Dog & Bell pub will this year be focussing on Welsh beers from 30 November to 1 December, with their Rare Welsh Beer Festival. Expect something in the region of 30 independently-sourced beers that have (according to the organisers) “never been seen this side of the English border”.
If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, check out our ever-expanding database of the best pubs in London.