Some say that the meaning of life is found at the bottom of your glass. Others suggest that said prism provides the ideal view of any environment. So when it comes to looking at London – a city that has loved its beer for centuries – the end of a week filled with hops and glory provides the perfect vantage point.
In the past seven days or so (you’ll understand if I’m a little sketchy on the detail) the city has basked in beer, been inundated by India Pale Ale and been barraged by brews from the very top drawer. A staple event for ale aficionados in London has long been the Great British Beer Festival, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale. The Olympia venue once again opened its extraordinary doors this past week to the some of the nation’s most storied brewers – and a fair few of its most enthusiastic imbibers if the guts on display were anything to go by.
But in the capital this month this has been just the tip of a delicious, beery iceberg. We’ve also enjoyed London Beer City, a new kid on the block in terms of organised ale-based revelry and a celebration of what its coordinator, Will Hawkes, rightly describes as a renaissance particularly in the independent brewing sector.
Meanwhile, Bethnal Green boasted the London Craft Beer Festival at the same time. Favourite tipples such as The Kernel, Beavertown and Redemption lined up alongside some serious international players including Sierra Nevada – one of the US’s finest, a bastion of excellence and a real driver for the burgeoning London craft-brewing scene. All across London this week-long extravaganza has left thousands with freshly inspired palates and maybe some pretty sore heads.
And it is not confined to these events. Regular visitors to the city (and local connoisseurs) will have hopefully noticed how mush easier it has become to source and enjoy quality beer in a proper pub, bar or local drinking den. Something slightly wonderful has happened in London over the past 10 years, as the originators and visionaries of the craft-brewing scene have been followed by disciples, then looser followers and now probably dozens of entrepreneurial characters and savvy landlords who have learnt that good beer equals good business.
The past week’s events, even reviewed through a slight fog of overindulgence, offer a reassuring sense that the city’s beer revival is going strong. And here’s another delicious thought: what if there’s still plenty more to come? I’ll drink to that. Cheers!
Tom Edwards is executive producer for Monocle 24.