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Get the Most from Your Year in Beer – 2019 part 2

Here at last is part two of my beer festival round up, here to help with your beery calendar planning. What I’m aiming for with this list is a selection of mainly craft-beer-focused festivals in or near the UK. I’ve excluded CAMRA festivals, mainly because there are too many of them and I couldn’t really justify putting some in but not others. If you want a more comprehensive overview of beer festivals coming up, check out the UK Beer Festival Calendar.

If you want to see what I listed for the beginning of the year check out part 1 of this post. Or if you want to see what was on this time last year, then you can do that too.

A list like this is never going to be exhaustive so if you think there’s something I’ve missed that’s worth a mention, let me know in the comments.

June

The London Brewers Alliance put on an excellent festival at Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick last year. Sadly it looks like this isn’t going to be repeated this year. This is a shame as it was an excellent event to highlight what’s going on in the capital’s brewing scene at the moment.

You might think there would be all sorts of events showcasing the best of London’s home-grown beer. After all it’s a world-class centre of beer culture with the sort of brewing heritage that most cities could only dream of. But no. We’re left instead with a strange silence on this point. With London Beer Week and London Beer City also no longer taking place, there now exists a huge gap in the beer festival market. Quite frankly, London is letting itself down.

I hope the LBA decides to put something like this on again in the future, otherwise you might well ask what it’s even for.

Bristol Craft Beer Festival, 7–8 June

3 sessions. Tickets cost from £40 to £65 or £100 for a ticket to all sessions. Tickets are all-in and include beer.

No such problems out west, where the We Are Beer crew return once again with the Bristol Beer Festival. These events include a VIP ticket option. For an extra twenty-five quid you get access to the sessions 15 minutes ahead of the hoi polloi – and if you miss that there is also a special VIP queue for quick access after that.

VIPs also get a goodie bag containing a t-shirt and one of the collaboration beers brewed specially for the festival. (These are usually pretty good.)

But wait, there’s more! You also get access to special beers in the We Are Beer room, or at the We Are Beer bar, and reserved seating to drink it in. Finally, you also get 20% off tickets to another session.

Nottingham Craft Beer Week, 8–15 June

There are loads of events taking place throughout the week at various venues. Check individual event details for ticket info.

Nottingham Craft Beer Week returns to the city for its fifth year and is increasingly recognised as one of the biggest beer events in the UK calendar. In 2019 there are a record 38 bars and pubs taking part across Nottingham. Hundreds of guests and representatives from breweries and beer companies across the world will descend upon the city for a week of appreciation of the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink.

Look out for Original Gravity Live and a tasting with Emma Inch, current Beer Writer of the Year and host of the excellent Ferment Radio podcast.

Paris Beer Week, 8–16 June

Tickets cost from €7 to €20.

2019 will be the sixth Paris Beer Week. As you might imagine, this festival encompasses a number of different events, all leading up to the grand final. Ooh la la! France is undergoing a huge explosion in brewing, so this should be a particularly interesting way to dip your toe into another brewing culture. There are all the usual types of events: met-the-brewer, food pairing, workshops, tastings, TTOs etc. But I’m also intrigued by the category titled ‘fun and games’. Hmm…

Brighton Craft Beer Festival, 20–22 June

5 sessions. Tickets cost between £38.50 and £49.50 with a VIP option at £71.50. You can also shell out £210 for a ticket to all sessions, or £310 for a VIP ticket to all sessions.

Excuse me? The top option of £310 has to be one of the most expensive beer festival tickets I’ve ever seen. The golden ticket gives you access 45 minutes before everyone else, access to a VIP room, discounts, a goody bag, and all that sort of stuff. Despite all this it still seems massively overpriced to me. Would not recommend.

The line-up of breweries looks solid, but not amazing. I can only presume they’ve controlled the ratio of VIP to ordinary tickets such that there’s still enough of the first-pouring beers once the 45 minute head start is up. I have to admit I’m not especially tempted by this one; the whole thing looks a bit derivative but the VIP options are being offered at a huge mark-up compared to other similar events, and it makes the whole thing seem a bit money-grubbing to be honest. I hope I’m wrong and it turns out to be a decent event anyway.

Carnival Brettanomyces, 20–23 June

There are no event-wide tickets. Some events that fall under the festival’s umbrella are free and others are ticketed.

Entering its 8th year, this ‘beer festival for the uncommon beers’ runs in bars, bottle shops, restaurants and breweries around Amsterdam, giving you the opportunity to wonder around from lecture to tasting, from workshop to beer dinner.

If you like the sour stuff, the list of breweries attending should definitely get your mouth watering.

Liverpool Craft Beer Expo, 27–30 June

5 sessions. Tickets cost £10 to £12.50 or £35 for a full-fat option.

Now in its 7th year, this event promises a modern craft beer festival, featuring a new breed of ground-breaking and innovative breweries from the UK, Europe and beyond. With over 300 beers, on both keg and cask and spread across 20+ bars and 100+ beer taps.

The venue is the Invisible Wind Factory, described as a beautiful indoor and outdoor arts, music and culture space. Sounds good to me.


July

Live in the midlands? Feel like the beer world has ignored your neck of the woods for too long? Well sulk no more! We Are Beer decided they’d quite like some of your money thank you very much, and have created something to extract it from your wallet.

Beer Central, 5–6 July

3 sessions. Tickets cost £45 or £65 for the VIP option, or £100 for a ticket covering all sessions. Tickets are all-in and include your beer. VIP gets you the same as outlined above for the Bristol Beer Festival.

This year Beer Central’s first, but the We Are Beer crew have been putting on successful festivals for a long time to the likelihood of ‘teething problem’ type mishaps is pretty low. The list of breweries is already extensive and includes a lot of the old favourites from the beer festival circuit. With more to be announced, some of the ones that stand out (for me anyway) are Black Iris, Braybrooke, BrewDog OverWorks, Dig Brew Co, Glasshouse Beer, Mahrs Bräu, Mothership, Neon Raptor and Turning Point.

Hagstravaganza, 26–27 July

2 sessions. Tickets cost from €26.19 to €53.75.

Run by the White Hag Brewery in Ireland’s County Sligo, Hagstravaganza has quietly been building a good name for itself for a while now.

As ever our ambition for HAGSTRAVAGANZA is to bring a mix of brilliant brewers to Sligo for an International brewery festival. Some are established as global industry leaders, while some are breaking onto the scene. All of them are breweries we admire and we think you’ll do the same.

White Hag Brewery

Birmingham Beer Week, 19–28 July

Tickets for the Birmingham Beer Debate cost £3.79.

Back for its third year, #BrumBW19 will bring together the city’s finest breweries, pubs, bars, bottle shops and restaurants to create a whole array of events with good music, food and of course beer. The week kicks off with the Birmingham Beer Debate.

On the panel will be Pete Brown the award winning author, beer writer and broadcaster; Marverine Cole the award-winning journalist, broadcaster and producer of the Beer Beauty video blog; John Keeling former Fuller’s Brewery brewing director and brewer of the year; Ash Corbett-Collins a national director of CAMRA and chair of their Marketing Committee and Sophie de Ronde, brewer at Burnt Mill Brewery and founder of the international women’s collaboration brew day.

Birmingham Beer Week

To see what else is on, it might be worth checking with the individual venues taking part.

August

Great British Beer Festival, 6–10 August

6 sessions. Tickets cost from £9 to £39 with special prices available for group bookings, CAMRA members, etc.

Lots of people love this festival. I’m not one of them. However, it’s been the Big Daddy of beer festivals for decades, so I’m including it here anyway. It is definitely old-school, and to me feels a bit tired and outdated. But there’s no denying that there is a huge variety of beers and ciders available to try.

This is one you have to know and navigate well to really enjoy. Go with friends, grab seating early, make your plan of attack to ensure you get to the sought-after beers before they go (and they will go, quickly) then get to it.

London Craft Beer Festival, 9–11 August

5 sessions. Tickets cost from £40 to £74.95; there’s also a ticket to all sessions at £175.

There’s a £15 booking fee for all the weekender tickets. That’s a huge fee — I wonder how they justify that one? Seriously… what’s it for? Admin? Payment processing?

UPDATE, 17 June: Tom from We Are Beer got in touch to point out the standard booking fee is £4.50, and the £15 fee is just for the Weekender tickets, not all tickets as I’d incorrectly said at first. He also explained the booking fee is a fixed percentage of the ticket cost. Tom says: “it covers processing fees, paying a developer to keep the ticketing platform working etc… the percentage is actually lower than most ticketing platforms.”

I still think £15 is a massive amount for a booking fee — after all processing transactions online doesn’t get more difficult as the value grows. It seems to me these fees should be fixed sums not percentages. But this issue isn’t unique to We Are Beer, or even within their control.

As with other We Are Beer offerings, there’s a VIP option that gets you in 15 minutes early. To me this sounds more reasonable than the 45 minutes you get at the Brighton Craft Beer Festival. If you miss that there’s a VIP queue for quick access. VIPs also get a goodie bag, one of the festival’s specially brewed collaboration beers and a tee shirt; access to special beers in the We Are Beer room, or at the We Are Beer bar; reserved seating for VIP ticket holders; and finally 20% off tickets to another session.

LCBF is back at Tobacco Dock again. This venue was great last year, albeit sweltering on a very hot day. Thankfully it’s a well run event and there was plenty of water on hand at multiple water stations around the place. For me this is always one of the main events of the year — being local certainly helps here — it’s got a good feel to it and the brewery list is always solid. Plus the prices feel reasonable. (It’s an all-in ticket so includes your beer.) I’d definitely recommend this one.

Peakender, 16–18 August

Too many ticket types to mention here. Follow this link for more info.

Get yer tents out, Thornbridge’s Peakender festival is back for its third year of beer, music, food, and sleeping in the great outdoors. The beer list looks good, and if the weather’s kind this could be a great event.

BXL Beer Fest, 24–25 August

2 sessions. Tickets cost €5 or €9 for both sessions. Beer is not included. Tokens cost €18 for 20.

If you fancy a quick jaunt on the Eurostar over to Belgium, then consider timing your trip to coincide with this festival. I did last year and it was great. It’s a relaxed and friendly event with less of the hype and crush you can encounter at some of the other, larger festivals on the circuit. The beer is excellent, especially if you like sour and spontaneously fermented beers of which there are of course plenty on show. Just check out the list of breweries attending to get your mouth watering.

Brighton and Hove Beer Week, 23 August–1 September

Back for its second year, this is a beer week that promises no wristbands, no lanyards, and no central beer tent.

Brighton & Hove Beer Week is all about the venues and the breweries that bring great beer to the city every day. Each participating venue will be organising events, collaborations and happenings throughout the week in order to showcase the very best in beer and brewing from Brighton & Hove and beyond. This is about world-class beer served where it should be: in the pubs, bars, restaurants and bottle shops that bring it to you all year round. And it’s about a whole heap more than that – because this is Brighton & Hove and we know how to throw a party.

Brighton and Hove Beer Week

There isn’t any information yet about this year’s venues and events. Last there were 60 events across 30 venues. The organisers say this year’s beer week will be bigger.

September

For the last two years Beavertown’s BeaverEx festival has been a popular way to kick off September. I haven’t found any information on whether it’s coming back again however. I suspect it’s not, but maybe keep an eye out just in case.

Leeds International Beer Festival, 5–8 September

6 sessions. Tickets cost from £5 to £12.50, or £90 for a ticket to all sessions that includes £40-worth of beer tokens.

2019 will be the festival’s eighth year, so this is one of the more established events on the craft beer festival circuit. There are already a few great names on the beer list, including The Kernel, Little Earth Project and Neon Raptor.

Funk Fest, 7–8 September

3 sessions. Tickets cost from £5 to £7 plus a £1.10 fee. That’s a much more reasonable fee that some other events.

This one looks interesting. It’s hosted by Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield, who believe it to be the only dedicated sour and mixed ferm multi-day beer fest in the North.

Expect a full line up of mixed fermentation and sour beer showcasing a multitude of amazing producers in this area as well as plenty from our very own Funk Dungeon barrel project, served across keg and cask. Of course we’ll have the ubiquitous Moonshine pouring from the tank too as that perfect palate cleanser!

Abbeydale Brewery

There will also be a homebrew competition on the Sunday. Get your sours out!

I’ll give a quick honourable mention here to Borefts beer festival, hosted by Brouwerij de Molen over in the Netherlands on 27–28 September. Tickets cost €36 or €56 depending on how many tokens you want to add on.

October

We’re reaching the point now where details start to get hazy. Event organisers, with their deadlines still five months in the future, are understandably keeping their powder dry. Or still busy organising stuff. Either way, from here on out expect less information on each event.

Indy Man Beer Con, 3–6 October

Tickets are not on sale yet (as of May 2019).

Manchester is a great beer city. If you haven’t been before you definitely should go and check it out. Over the first weekend of October the IMBC offers the perfect excuse to book those train tickets. Just avoid the Saturday evening session if you can, that one gets packed.

Independent Manchester Beer Convention (Indy Man Beer Con/IMBC) is a world class showcase for the best breweries from the UK and beyond. Taking over the stunning surrounds of the Grade II listed, architectural gem Victoria Baths for its 8th year from Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th October 2019, IMBC brings together the most progressive, forward thinking breweries from across the UK, Europe and USA for a multisensory, headlong, hop- forward beer extravaganza.

IMBC

Craft Beer Calling, 24–26 October

4 sessions. Tickets cost from £10 to £12.10, or £33 for a ticket covering the whole weekend.

Set in a great location, Newcastle’s Palace of Arts, this festival hosted by Wylam Brewery is small but has a great atmosphere. There’s not much information available yet but it’s definitely worth checking out nearer to the time to find out what they’ve got up their sleeves.

November

Salford Beer Fest, 31 October–2 November

5 sessions. Tickets cost £22 (including booking fee) or £88 for all sessions.

This independent is entering its sixth year. It’s still at the stunning Hemsley House, still donating all profits to charity. Expect microbreweries and small batch cidermakers alongside familiar names from the craft beer firmament. If past years are anything to go by this one’s going to be a fun event. Check out past years’ programmes to see for yourself.

This one’s possibly a bit niche, but if you’re up for trying 25 different smoked beers head to Smokefest on Saturday 3 November, hosted by Torrside Brewery. I love smoked beers, but plenty of people don’t. Their loss.

In past year’s Northern Monk have hosted Dark City up in Leeds around this time of year. I can’t find any information about it for 2019 however, so I don’t know whether or not it will go ahead. Check again closer to the time, I guess.

December

I have no events to list here. Presumably this is because everyone’s busy in December and no one wants to go to beer festivals because we’re all drinking more than enough already in the run up to Christmas. If you know better, pass it on in the comments below.

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