I'm a London-dwelling northern lass who swapped the East End for Far East on the trip of a lifetime. I blog about food, travel, yoga and spirituality. www.sophiesnotinkansas.com
No beer bellies please
This weekend we got our drinking caps on at the Craft Beer Rising Festival which took place for the first time at, fittingly, the Old Truman Brewery 22nd - 23rd February. It turns out that we were lucky: tickets were a total sell out, proving there is a great demand for this kind of event, even in the Hipster heart of East London.
The organisers are staunch in their belief that the enjoyment of ales is no longer simply the domain of paunchy old men sporting comb overs. They say that there is a new audience of younger, more discernible consumers that brewers can and should be appealing to to. Citing 7.8 million craft beer drinkers in the UK, the CBR folks say there's enormous potential for brewers to cater to this growing audience.
CBR's raisson d'etre is to "throw off the shackles of of a traditional beer gathering by crafting events, experiences and environments that take craft beer to the masses". With this in mind they took over one of the East End's coolest event spaces, threw in a fantastic line up of DJs and bands, sprinkled in some of London's finest street food - et voila! An ale event to be seen at.
We wandered around many stalls and took in samples from the likes of Meantime, Curious Drinks, Brewdog, Duvel, Two Cocks and The Botanist brewers. Some of the highlights included whiskey flavoured and elderflower flavoured cider by the Thistly Cross Cider, chocolate porter, porter aged in whiskey barrels and even black lagers which tasted incongruously light, given their stormy hue.
Interesting cider selection from the Thistly Cross Cider stall
I'm not normally a fan of dark ale but the absolute winner had to be Quadrupel - a delicious, treacley number by Sharps Brewery, although at 10% it should perhaps be treated more like wine than beer. Another interesting choice was the Jacobite Traquair House Ale. Brewed in the wings of one of Scotland's oldest houses, this was a complex and intense beer that tasted of oats.
We were disappointed to have missed out on the signature festival beer which was horseradish flavoured (anything 'horsey' is undoubtedly 'on trend' right now). Sadly, we had spent so much time at the other stalls that by the time we finally got to it they were all out. So we rounded off the evening with beer and chocolate (a very tasty combination) and then, perhaps unwisely and in a fit of nostalgia for our by-gone student days, finished with a Snakebite from Thistly Cross Cider.
With all that beer washing around, we had to soak it up with some of the irresistible street food that was on offer. We had a 'Fish Dog' starter from Hix's Fish Dogs followed by an absolutely dreamy stilton pork pie from Hartland Pies.
A mouthwatering selection of pork pies from Hartland Pies
We didn't catch many tunes but visitors later in the weekend would have been entertained by classic disco and house music and none other than legend Norman Jay on Saturday night. If the beer wasn't enough then surely that would have tipped you over the edge. I'm pleased to say that CBR certainly achieved it's objective. The average demographic was definitely 'younger and hipper' - there were even a few girls in the crowd. And no - not even a beer belly in sight...