Friday 29 July 2011

GBBF: A Week of Events?

When Denver is over-run by beer drinkers for GABF each year, the city’s beer bars all put on events to coincide with it. Because of this, the peripheral events are as much as a draw as the festival itself, with beer dinners and tastings taking place for the time of the festival.

The Great British Beer Festival is next week but London doesn’t have the same external focus on events as GABF, but could or should it?

CASK is putting on two excellent meet the brewers: Odell and Kernel (11 Kernel beers on cask and keg. ELEVEN!) will be there on Saturday 30th and Monday 1st respectively. The White Horse has shifted their US beer festival back a month so that it’s now in line with GBBF. The Dean Swift are holding a beer and food event for #IPADay. But is there anything else?

I think it’s a great time to go all-out on beer. GBBF gets in the news, lots of people talk about it and lots of people will want to drink it. People come into London for the festival and also want to take the time to visit other pubs in London. What if places did meet the brewers (who are also in London for the festival)? What if there were beer dinners? Special tastings? Brewery tours? Even an alternative after-party (keg?!) festival? 

GBBF is a different set-up to GABF, where you go in for an allotted slot and drink 1oz samples of as many beers as you can/like, but I think there’s definitely space for a few more events around the week of GBBF to really promote beer to more people.

What do you think? Would you go to events after going to the festival or are you beered-out by then?


  1. There has been much talk lately of a "London Beer Week". It is my honestly held belief that this should be in GBBF week. At GABF, I enjoyed the peripheral events as much as the actual festival. I am really looking forward to some of the fringe events next week. Not everyone goes to gbbf every day and as you rightly say , it is a great week to go all out on beer. Hopefully We can build on ths.

  2. There is this as well

  3. yes, tehre is also the flying dog meet the brewer/ beer and cheese tasting at the white horse also on thursday


    Do you hope to get to any of the events Mark?

  4. One of the drivers for holding the ratebeer event in London was the confluence of GBBF and other beery opportunities. So we'll have meet the brewer sessions, a beer & food grand tasting, time at the White Horse for the US festival plus a dozen pubs and an after-event party too.

    GBBF cries out to have fringe events. It's something that the London Brewers Alliance ought to drive forward in 2012. And I expect a certain Scottish-brewery-owned bar will have its own alternative offering too...

  5. I think the Old Mitre opens for the GBBF weekend.

  6. The Rake was setting their outside stillage up ready for some beery treats through the week. Glyn told me some of the beers he was getting, but I forget now. Watch their twitter feed. The Old Fountain are also having a Saltaire thing through the week. Might also have the brewer in, IIRC.

    Dredgie's question is a good one - I was leafing through the latest London Drinker and wondered about the number of coincident events. I don't agree that London Brewers Alliance should create an event to run alongside. LBA has its own message and aims to promote - would it be better to just get some bars to put some beers in front of a larger number of interested punters, or is it better to run their showcase as the culmination (or launchpad?) of a week of dedicated events that get some media interest that isn't swamped by the messages CAMRA ties to GBBF.

  7. There's a lot of stuff going on tangential to GBBF but if it were gathered under an umbrella it would be all the better for it.

    Kernel meet the brewer? IPA night at Dean Swift? White Horse USA beer? All great events, which could be promoted through a central point. Like the Edinburgh Fringe, it'd be a counterpoint to the main event. Because even Londoners and tourists would tire of five days at GBBF.

    And who better to co-ordinate that than LBA? Raise their profile, promote their members.

    Now that London has a critical mass of brewers and bars that are truely world-class, if LBA don't get behind a fringe programme than someone else will.

  8. Here at the infinitely more prestigious and world-renowned GCBF (Great Canadian Beer Festival), we ALSO drum up lots of beer festival related activity throughout the city (Victoria, BC — go, erm, Salmon Kings!). The most popular activity is gathering up armfuls of books to throw at festival organizers:

  9. Really glad you posted on this, Mark -- been thinking something similar myself ever since going to GABF last year, and as various posters have picked up here, it could largely be about pubs, brewers, organisations running their own events and just promoting them through a central point. Will be glad to join in any practical discussions with a view to making this happen next year -- but let's start talking as soon as GBBF is over. Would be great to approach CAMRA about it too.

    I can't see why LBA shouldn't be involved though they might think they want to put their major effort into another awareness event that isn't overshadowed by GBBF.

    One thing to note: next year is going to be an unusual one as it's at Olympia, and it's during the Olympics, which could be a good thing as there will be lots more visitors around, but getting round London will be more of a challenge than usual (and much more of a challenge than some people realise, according to my sources at TfL). Also 2012 is as far as I know currently the last GBBF with a confirmed venue as Earls Court is being redeveloped after its stint as a London 2012 venue. There's even talk of it moving out of London -- which I personally think would be a big mistake but I gather it's not been ruled out.

  10. I'm glad others would be interested in events. I think there's a great opportunity to make GBBF the focus point of a general, bigger celebration of beer. LBA would be the ideal umbrella organisation to coordinate it and attach names to it but everyone is busy brewing and there isn't any dedicated staff to such a thing, so it's difficult. I'm sure it could happen though. I do also agree with Des, however, that a another focus event might raise the profile more. Perhaps it's a matter of pubs pulling together to try and make more things happen to make the most of so many beer drinkers being in the city,