I love autumn. It seems at this time of year, there’s a large number of beer festivals taking place nearby. In fact, since the beginning of September, I’ve been to nine! I’ve written a couple of posts already about York CAMRA and Craft Beer Calling. This time, it’s the turn of Sheffield Beer and Cider Festival, organised by Sheffield CAMRA.
In a recent post, I explored how the York branch of CAMRA were going about modernising the traditional CAMRA beer festival. This weekend, I attended a session at Craft Beer Calling, a non-CAMRA affiliated festival. So, what can beer drinkers expect from a festival that doesn’t have to toe the line of CAMRA policy? Continue reading Craft Beer Calling 2017
Talk beer to a modern beer drinker and you can probably expect Brewdog to come up at some point. Whether you like them or not, they have influenced the UK beer scene significantly since they arrived. They have challenged the way we experience beer, from flavour and style, to product branding and marketing. There isn’t often a day that goes by without something happening in the Brewdog world. Recently, this seemed dialled up to eleven with two significant events happening. First, the launch of Equity for Punks V, then Brewdog Collabfest.
For professional brewers, late summer and early autumn is an exciting time. This time of year, is hop harvesting time, which means a fresh supply of the plant that gives so much flavour and aroma to beer. With loads of different varieties of hop plants, plus new experimental hops being produced regularly, it means brewers can not only continue to brew their tasty core ranges of beers, but also get a little bit creative too.
Steeped in history, the Cardigan Arms has been evidenced to exist back in 1798, but is thought to be older than that. This would make it one of Leeds’ oldest still trading public houses, although a few decades younger than Whitelocks and a mere toddler compared to the claimed grand old age of the Bingley Arms in Bardsey, which it is said dates to before 1000 AD.
Having been sucked into the ‘craft’ beer world like many others, I have been quite hostile towards AB InBev (who own around 30% of the global beer market) and any other large drinks conglomerate (Heineken, Constellation etc.). I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker based on propaganda from independent breweries about the tragic taking over of other ‘craft’ breweries – think Camden Town and Meantime to name a couple. It’s not just the propaganda though, it’s word of mouth from people who work in and around the industry, where the stories are that smaller breweries are just being absorbed into the machine, with brands being killed off or quality diluted, and people being made redundant as production moves elsewhere.
One thing that has come under fire recently (amongst many other things admittedly!) from the social media masses is CAMRA-run beer festivals. An interesting fact that many may not realise is that CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) were responsible for introducing beer festivals to the UK. Popular across Europe, mainly Germany, the beer festival concept wasn’t adopted in the UK until CAMRA launched the first ever one in St Albans, in 1974.
We are fortunate in Leeds to have a City Centre that is so well populated with great beer pubs and bars. Like many of our Northern neighbours (Manchester, Sheffield), the people of Leeds have really taken a shine to the recent beer boom and the vast choice of drinking venues available to us is testament to that.
Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Keir McAllister-Wilde. Introduced by a mutual friend, it was an exciting time as it was one more brewery to add to Leeds’ growing list and an opportunity to meet another brewer.
It’s astonishing to think that it was only just over 6 years ago that Leeds’ brewing scene was still dominated by Tetley’s. After Carlsberg’s decision to close the site and move brewing elsewhere, it was a tough time for employees, beer consumer support groups and for the city of Leeds itself. Almost 200 years of brewing heritage gone in the blink of an eye.