London Beer City
Dear beer lovers, we stand before a momentous moment. The floodgates are about to open, the sweet amber nectar will flow freely and all the people will rejoice in the glory of beer. There’ll be laughter and dancing and singing and the occasional tear, born out of pure wonder and delight. It’s time for the first ever London Beer City, a week long celebration of this wonderful drink, packed full of events all over the city. We caught up with Will Hawkes, the man behind this brilliant initiative, to learn more about what’s going to happen.
Will is probably the perfect man to put on a celebration of this magnitude. He’s a freelance journalist, who’s written extensively about beer for a range of newspapers, the author of Craft Beer London, a book and an app that helps you find good places to drink, and he was beer writer of the year 2013. London Beer City is his ambition is to fill the city with beer events – tap takeover, live brews, meet the brewer, dinners, beer talks – it’s all going to happen, all at the same time, all over the shop. He’s lost count of how many events there’ll be, but he reckons between 85 to 90. The idea stems from similar initiatives from other parts of the globe, namely Good Beer Week in Melbourne, Australia, and Philly Beer Week in the US, both of which tally over 200 events each. So Will still sees London Beer City as small in comparison.
After Will took this generous undertaking upon himself, the first thing he did was to start a limited company. The second thing he did was to talk to Evin O’Riordain at The Kernel. He seems to be the go-to guy if you want to make sure that your beer related initiative has some sort of legitimacy. Will tells us that there are certain breweries you just need on your side if you want to make something like this happen. So he also talked to Jasper Cuppaidge at Camden Town Brewery and Logan Plant at Beavertown. They were all keen and the proverbial ball was rolling. Next he got London Brewers’ Alliance involved and suddenly the events were stacking up.
With so many beer events on the horizon it’s difficult to single some of them out. We asked Will to tell us about the ones that excites him the most. First up is of course the two beer festivals happening during the week – The Great British Beer Festival and London Craft Beer Festival. The fact that last year’s newcomer festival, London Craft Beer Festival, had the audacity to infringe on the holy week of GBBF baffled many minds in the world of beer. London Beer City has given the choice to put these two together a whole new meaning. A perfect fit that caters for all your beer needs.
Then there are the events. Siren Craft Brew has got a couple of interesting ones lined up. Siren is strictly not a London brewery, but as Will says, the beer week is London centric, but not London exclusive. Siren is planning a live brew at the Earl Of Essex, where members of the public are invited to bring ingredients to be included in the brew. Of course, only if it passes the scrutiny of head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew. They’re also putting on an event at Mother Kelly’s, called ‘Beer Voyage’. We’ve heard rumours that it’ll be some sort of murder mystery, with beer. There will also be food based events. Camden Town Brewery is joining forces with Caravan in King’s Cross where they’ll be pairing their beer with some delectable dishes. And if you fancy a bit of a pub crawl combined with puzzle solving you can join the London Beer Hunt, courtesy of brewery and online beer shop Honest Brew. The idea is that you sign up online to receive clues that needs to be solved in order to find out where to go next, following a path starting at Old Street Station. The first 100 to solve it all will receive a ‘unique reward’. Hopefully not a bottle opener.
There are so many more events to mention. Kernel is opening their brewery for a shindig along with Partizan and Brew By Numbers, Pete Brown will be holding beer and music matching sessions and Brodie’s is putting on a sour beer takeover along with an interactive brew at their pub King William IV. There’s so much good stuff in the pipeline. Brace yourself liver, it’s going to be a tough ride for you old friend.
Will’s ambition with London Beer City is to make beer more accessible and enjoyable for people. It’s beer for christ sake, it’s fun. The idea is that wherever you travel in the capital you’ll encounter some sort of beer event. He wants to get more people drinking the good stuff. And specifically to make more women get involved and start enjoying beer. Although the UK can claim to be one of the biggest beer nations in the world, women aren’t drinking as much of it as in other countries. That’s got to change. For Will this is just the beginning. His aim is to make London Beer City the best celebration of beer in the world. Wowser. And it’s up to all of us to help him make that happen. All you have to do is to join in and drink a shitload of delicious beer next week. Cheers.