This month sees the return of a couple of reliably dependable real ale festivals, a slightly new direction for London Beer Week, and some promising beer festivals in a couple of our favourite pubs. Get to it!
8-10 March: London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival
North London CAMRA’s annual festival returns to the Camden Centre near King’s Cross for its 33rd year, but for the first time, the main hall will be dedicated to serving beers brewed in London. The preliminary beer list suggests about 100 cask ales and 30 unpasteurised keg beers, as well as a large collection of international bottled beers. As if that wasn't enough fermented fare, 35 real ciders and perries, and a few English wines, will also be available.
There are two sessions on each of Wednesday and Thursday: a lunchtime session with free entry, and an evening session when entry costs £4 on the door. On Friday the festival runs uninterrupted from noon until 10.30pm, for which entry also costs £4 on the door. Card-carrying CAMRA members get £1 off the entry fee. Group tickets and season tickets are also available.
13-19 March: London Beer Week
London Beer Week returns, but the format has changed from last year — no more wristbands entitling the wearer to special beer discounts at various pubs and bars. The week’s festivities will feature a schedule of brewery tours (with rickshaw transportation between breweries), tasting masterclasses, food and beer pairing dinners, walking tours, a St. Patrick’s Day party, pop-up beer halls, and so on. See the London Beer Week website for details of the various events taking place.
The promotional pinnacle of the week is The Beer Edit — ostensibly a beer festival, running four sessions from the Thursday to the Saturday, in Bethnal Green’s Oval Space. Tickets cost £10 for the Thursday evening or Saturday afternoon sessions, or £12.50 for the Friday or Saturday evenings.
29 March - 1 April: Wandsworth Common Spring Beer Festival
Another regular fixture in the beer-lover’s calendar, the Wandsworth Common Spring Beer Festival returns to the Grade II listed Royal Victoria Patriotic Building (AKA 'Le Gothique') at the end of the month. 100 real ales and 25 ciders will be accompanied by food and live music (on Friday and Saturday evenings), all served up in the courtyard of the grand Gothic Revival building on the edge of Wandsworth Common.
An entrance fee of £4 (or £3 for CAMRA members or those who pre-register online) will get you into one of the three main sessions running from 1pm to 11pm on the Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Alternatively a pre-booked £25 ticket provides entry to the preview night from 6pm on the Wednesday, with all cask ale included in the ticket price.
- For a (probably) more low-key celebration of St. Patrick’s Day than the one offered by London Beer Week, the wonderfully old-school Dog & Bell in Deptford will be serving real ales from Ireland, accompanied by home-cooked food and some traditional Irish music. Festivities kick-off on St. Patrick's Day itself (17 March) and are set to continue until 19 March. Check the event’s Facebook page for more details.
- The next beer festival at the CAMRA-beloved Hope in Carshalton runs from 30 March to 1 April, and is awkwardly entitled ‘Great Fermentations’. Keep an eye on their website for details to emerge.
If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, check out our ever-expanding database of the best pubs in London.