December and January were, as usual, mostly devoid of beer festivals in London, but February sees a gradual resumption of decent beer-drinking opportunities. We’re expecting a larger number of beer festivals in March, but in the meantime here’s a handful of beery events to wet your whistle.
2-4 February: North London Brew Fest at the Snooty Fox
Canonbury’s wonderful Snooty Fox pub tends to host a beer festival every February; the theme this year focusses on craft brewers from across the UK (it seems that the ‘North London’ in the festival’s name refers to the location of the pub, not the brewers). Festivities kick off at 3pm on Thursday and last until end of play on Saturday night.
Details of the beer line-up are still a bit vague, but 25 cask and keg beers will feature, and beer nerds can get their fix of brewing chatter at a ‘meet the brewer’ session, featuring Sean Ayling from the Pig & Porter brewery, on Saturday afternoon.
For musical entertainment, the pub’s resident DJs will be playing soul, funk, and rock’n’roll on the Friday and Saturday evenings. At other times the pub’s excellent vinyl jukebox can provide some suitable drinking tunes.
Entry is free, with the exception of a separately ticketed ale and cheese pairing event, hosted by beer writer (and occasional Londonist contributor) Des de Moor, in the upstairs room on Friday evening.
23-25 February: Craft Beer Rising
The self-proclaimed 'UK’s biggest craft beer festival' (a claim that seems to rely on a rather narrow definition of ‘craft beer’) returns for its fifth year to Brick Lane’s Old Truman Brewery. The event promises beers and ciders from more than 150 brewers, a large number of street food stalls, and music from a number of fairly well-recognised DJs.
In previous years many of the bars have been staffed by the brewers themselves, who have often been happy to give out samples and chat about their beers, to the delight of beer nerds (and the quiet despair of their less-beer-obsessed friends).
Tickets for sessions on the Friday evening, Saturday evening, or Saturday afternoon cost £20 in advance (cheaper ‘early bird’ tickets have now sold out). Alternatively, tickets for a preview night on the Thursday evening are currently available from £12.50.
- We don’t usually feature the regular Wetherspoon’s ‘beer festivals’ in these round-ups, as they’re normally more about stocking a particular range of beers in dozens of pubs than holding a specific event. But their so-called London Beer Festival caught our eye, with its focus on serving some excellent beers from 15 independent London brewers. The full list of beers, with accompanying tasting notes, is available on the Wetherspoons website (PDF) — if you like the look of any of them then it could be worth popping into your local ‘Spoons between now and Sunday 5 February.
- This is not a beer festival at all, but it looks like good beery fun. CAMRGB — the Campaign for Really Good Beer, unrelated to any other similarly-named beer advocacy organisation — are organising a relaxed, beery walk between a couple of north London pubs (the Prince in Bounds Green and the Duke’s Head in Highgate) on the afternoon of Saturday 25 February. In case the beer consumption at either pub threatens to be insufficient, the Five Points Brewing Company have donated cans of beer to keep participants fully refreshed on the walk. Participation is free, but CAMRGB have requested that you register beforehand if you’re thinking of joining in.
If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, check out our ever-expanding database of the best pubs in London.