The thing I heard said by people most often at yesterday’s trade session for the above event: “This is so much better than last year.”
They said it was better organised. The stands were better. The space was used more effectively. And most interestingly: “Last year it was just the same old regional brewers bringing their ordinary beers and saying, ‘Hey, we’re craft brewers!’ This year they’ve had a look, gone away and made some new and interesting beers.”
The ‘craft’ ranges from the regionals were joined by true craft stalwarts such as Brew Dog, Thornbridge and Beavertown, as well as lots of US imports and plenty of brewers I’ve never seen before.
The food was amazing too – the stand that claimed to offer the ‘the best ham sandwich you ever tasted’ did a pretty good job of backing it up.
I didn’t taste any beers that changed my life, or even my preferences. But I didn’t taste a beer I didn’t enjoy either.
Hipsters and young brewers mixed with industry greybeards and CAMRA stalwarts. All those ‘craft versus keg’ debates and other reductive musings suddenly seemed very old-fashioned and irrelevant. I only had one conversation all afternoon with people who were worried about a definition of craft beer. Everyone else seemed happy enough just drinking it.
I would post a link if you want tickets, but they’ve all sold out. If you’ve got one, lucky you. You’re in for a treat.
Nearly two months into 2014, it was a great start to my beery year. I intend to continue in a similar relaxed, celebratory vein.