Tuesday 22 May 2012

I Have a Dream!

It's been bugging me for some time now, probably 2 or 3 years. With between 3800 and 7000 pubs(depending on who you believe), numerous craft beer bars popping up here there and everywhere, 23 active breweries(and more to follow) and two active home brewing networks London is coming to the forefront of the craft beer scene in Great Britain.

As we should be.

So why then do we not have something akin to New York Craft Beer Week or as just announced Beijing Craft Beer Week! Beijing!! 

Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted that Beijing is enlightened enough to have a craft beer week but it makes me extremely frustrated that we haven't got something at least similar in the UK.

Yes we have a week where CAMRA puts on the Great British Beer Festival but it's limited in that it won't serve kegged beer and some of London's best brewers only keg beer.

Is the fact that some of us are so preoccupied with just arguing about the meaning of 'craft beer' rather than just enjoying the beer holding us back from hosting such an event?

We have the London Brewers Alliance so we're already halfway there. Should we set up another group for bars, pubs and restaurants? Would it help us get to the stage where we can pool our collective resources and actually market and put on an event which could help get craft beer noticed by the wider public and not just the beer geeks who already know about it?

Is our inherently 'British' or 'Conservative' nature holding us back?

So how do we make this happen? Someone needs to get the ball rolling because otherwise London will once again look like we're stagnating or indeed going backwards again.

Come on London, let's get our act together!


Anonymous said...

if you build it they will come.

I'll be there for a kick off!


Martyn Cornell said...

Glyn, will happily contribute whatever help I can.

rabidbarfly said...

Thanks Martyn.

daly's travels said...

Pure ignorance, in its philosophical sense, is the main drawback. Keg = nasty as far as many REAL drinkers are concerned, their loss IMO,some will try beers from Be, De, Fr, etc but refer to it as ''foreign muck''
showing a lack of understanding of different beer cultures, and, therefore an inability to get their heads around the next thing that is happening in brewing in Britain. As I said, their loss...

andrew_drinks said...

I completely agree with you Glyn - it's a great drinking city, and getting better all the time, but there's nothing tying it all together. I went to San Francisco for beer week in February and was surprised at how many things were going on, even in places that weren't solely beer-focused - maybe a model for London to follow?

rabidbarfly said...

Hi Andrew, I will be getting in contact with it's organisers fairly soon because I think it's a great model to base #LdnCBW on

benh said...

Just had a look on the san Francisco beer week website. I want one of them in London! Great idea...

Edward said...

I'm a mere drinker, and beer admirer but I think it is a tremendous idea. I'm there. Perhaps an Untappd badge could be on the cards too? Beervana in NZ sells out fast, I'm sure it would here too.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

You're back so soon !
But well said Glyn.
This whole bollocks about keg v cask is getting very boring.
I couldn't care less if a beer is brewed in Anne Widdecome's minge provided it tastes good.
Obviously I'd prefer it if it was brewed in Gisele Bundchen's twat and I got to drink it from the brewery tap.
But the fact remains Joe Pinter couldn't give a shit what vessel his suds come from.
CAMRA did the beer drinkers of this country a great national service.
But it needs to move with the times.

rabidbarfly said...

BenH - It seems I may have started something here, I certainly hope so, keep your eyes peeled.
PPT - My self imposed breaks never work very well, I get bored and inevitably come up with some sort of idea that needs voicing! Can open, worms everywhere!

Tandleman said...

It is a great idea Glyn, but aren't you worried about attracting nutters? :-)

rabidbarfly said...

And the difference to everyday is what exactly, Tandleman?

Tandleman said...

Ah. Fair point. But seriously, apart from the gratuitous jibes by some, it IS a good idea. You might have to think about how you make it inclusive. No point in wanting to include keg brewers only to alienate the others kind of worry.

London Beer Week?

rabidbarfly said...

Tandleman - I want this to be as inclusive as possible.

Professor Pie-Tin said...


I just spend a few days near Tampa,Florida which happily coincided with a local craft beer festival.
It was everywhere on TV,Radio and newspapers and bars all over were promoting the beer and its tie-in with food.
Nowhere did I get the impression that good beer was the preserve pf overweight fellers with beards which, unfortunately, is still the image created by the GBBF and its ridiculous pursuit of only a certain style of beer.

Tandleman said...

Grow up PTP. You are divisive, insulting, out of date and seemingly more interested in confrontation than Glyn's good idea. In short the nutter I warned him about.

Tandleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T_i_B said...

A few things to chuck in at this point.

1) I went to a CAMRA beer festival at the weekend with a "craft keg" bar selling beer from the likes of Lovibonds, Summer Wine & Magic Rock. Maybe times are changing more then some "craft"/cask partisans realize?

2) How about something like the 3 Valleys beer festival, which is bewing held next week? It's being held between a number of pubs in the Dronfield area, and even includes a Brewery. Could something like this be staged in London?


3) Norwich City of Ale might also be useful for ideas.


rabidbarfly said...

Apologies for the confusion T_I_B but as far as excluding keg goes, I was talking about GBBF only. I am looking to get as many bars, pubs, restaurants, breweries & groups such as involved in this as possible as well as groups such as CAMRA & SIBA.

Bryan the BeerViking said...

T_i_B - Norwich City of Ale was in some respects the model for CAMRA's London City of Beer campaign (www.londoncityofbeer.org.uk). As I've mentioned on Twitter, CAMRA as a whole and CAMRA London in particular are not anti-craft. The special LCoB visitors guide edition of London Drinker will mention good craft beer as well as cask ale, for example.

(Yes, CAMRA is "for" real ale rather than for craft beer in general - most real ales are also craft beers, of course - and yes, there's a vocal minority of cask zealots, but for most CAMRA types I drink with, the only keg we're against is crap keg.)

So, given that CAMRA is already running a campaign over July/August, and is promoting it to media, pubs, breweries, tourism groups, etc, it would make sense to (a) avoid confusion with LCoB in terms of hashtags, web addresses, etc, and (b) if there is a London Craft Beer Week, get it listed on the (free) LCoB website.

Just don't run it at the same time as GBBF! (-:

T_i_B said...

Let me put it this way Glyn. If "craft" keg takes off at other beer festivals then I'm sure it'll make it to GBBF at some point.

Personally I didn't go for the keg beer (had some of the bottled exotica on offer instead) but I was pleased that they had information about key-keg and eco-keg, so people at least get plenty of idea of what it entails.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Opinions are like arseholes - everyone has one.
But there's no need to behave like one simply because you disagree with them.
Fact is the term real ale was once a rallying call for a movement to preserve traditional brewing and beer in this country.
It worked.Fantastically well.
Now it's an outdated term,an outdated concept and a marketing disaster.
The craft beer movement in the US is cutting edge,fashionable nay even hip.
Here, real ale simple means fat train-spottery blokes with beards who fart a lot.
Ask anyone other than your fellow beer bloggers.

T_i_B said...

Proffessor Pie Tin. If Real Ale is "an outdated term,an outdated concept and a marketing disaster" then how come the only pubs round where I live that seem to be doing well are all real ale pubs?

Anyway, getting back on topic, there's also a question about whether or not we could do with a "Norwich City of Ale" type event in Sheffield, given that we have a large number of superb real ale pubs and a beer festival that struggles to find a suitable venue.

Professor Pie-Tin said...


Don't get me wrong, I love real ale.But then I'm a middle-aged bloke.
And we and our elder chums,mainly fellers, are really the only ones who care about it.
Even the term ale is redolent of some whiskery-chopped old geezer accompanied by a decrepit labrador drinking his usual pint of Old Fart Follow-Thru.
The craft beer movement in the US hits the entire age demographic and both sexes.

Unknown said...

"Real Ale" does suffer from a stigma, and could bee seen as an outdated concept.

However, it's hardly a marketing disaster as it clearly appeals to a certain audience. Some breweries market purely on Tradition. Nowt wrong with that. And indeed, some of the best traditional pubs and the best traditional beers do very well indeed.

The issue here is an alternative to beer festivals that do not allow beers unless it is cask conditioned. GBBF does what it does and might be difficult to change.

Still, a proper Craft Beer festival where all formats are chosen on individual merit would be a great idea.

But, I think it's more likely to happen in the North of the country before London.......

rabidbarfly said...

It's amazing how many people think I'm talking about a mere beer festival. Fuck small scale I want the city involved!

Tandleman said...


"The craft beer movement in the US hits the entire age demographic and both sexes."

So does Budweiser and Miller Lite.

Professor Pie-Tin said...


Likewise Heineken and all the other lagers in the UK.

But not real ale.

Yet CAMRA had a 15 year start on the micro-brewing revolution in the US.

Look around GBBF 2012 and count how many people under the age of 25 you see.

Or indeed even women.

CAMRA won the battle but they're losing the war.

Crafty said...

We just finished the second Good Beer Week in Australia. Created by a tiny group of passionate beer lovers working as volunteers with a miniscule budget and no government or other backing. We had 100-plus events all over Melbourne and Victoria (mostly sold out) in beer venues and plenty of non-beer venues, got some national media coverage, participating venues were busier than ever and we had guest brewers from the US declare it the best beer week they've ever been to - and we're just making it up as we go along. In other words, it's possible. Contact me through my website if you want to pick brains. Will be in London in September too.

Oh, and no nutters or trouble too as it's set up to be all about the appreciation, respect and showcasing of the best beers from all over the world.

Good luck.