The 5th Beckenham Beer Festival! This was the second beer festival of the year for us, and one situated down the road from the shop. I've always enjoyed the Beckenham Beer Festival, run by Bromley CAMRA, as the line up has always been pretty fantastic. This year didn't disappoint with the likes of Siren Craft Brew, Tiny Rebel and Beatnikz Republic bringing some absolutely awesome brews for us to sip on.
We always aim to go on the Thursday, the best day for the freshest beers and all are pretty much available. We started with Arbor, Mosaic, a gluten-free session ale and Bristol Beer Factory, Nova, a nice session ale.
What we liked about this years line up was the fact that around 20 odd beers were vegan friendly, this is a great step forward for CAMRA, meaning loads of ales were naturally hazy, thanks to the casks not having finings. Signalling which beers are vegan is also great for vegans themselves, and us at the shop are always proud supplying a great range of vegan beers.
After polishing off the first two brews, we headed back into the tent. By then it was nice and busy, with plenty of beers being poured. We scouted the line up and our eyes were drawn to two beers that we knew we would absolutely enjoy. First was Siren Craft Brew, Suspended in Enigma, a big ol' hazy number. I've had a number of different Suspended in brews, usually either bottle or keg, getting a cask version was exciting, it was great to see how this beer works in several different formats. It was a lovely drop, and worked well in cask.
The other beer we went for was Mad Squirrel, Peachy 5th, a peaches and cream pale ale. For me this was awesome, lovely and sweet with a great peach hit. However, the casks were starting to struggle under the extreme hot weather and I felt that if this beer was slightly cooler, or served through a keykeg, this would of been my beer of the festival.
After tasting Peachy 5th, I tried a brewery I've been meaning to for some time. Manchester's, Beatnikz Republic, Spring, a proper session beer that I could have tucked into all day. I felt this beer was made for cask, I've only ever seen them in tallboy cans and in keg before, and it was nice to see a relatively new brewery creating an outstanding cask beer. Both the Mad Squirrel and Beatnikz Republic will be making an appearance in the shop in the coming months.
The final beer was one I had my eyes on from the start, Tiny Rebel, Cheery Bomb, a modern take on the classic kriek. This was super refreshing, rich, sweet cherry flavours and a beautiful sourness, the perfect beer to end my session before having to head in to open up shop.
The festival itself was a great success, with record numbers on day one, a great selection of vegan beers, and a gluten-free beer too. These are all things I believe beer festivals should take into account when deciding their line up. However, there was one thing I felt was missing from this beer festival, that, if added, would really make it something special. I know some CAMRA members aren't to keen on keykeg beer or anything that isn't dispensed through cask, but the trend is slowly changing. The idea of a keg bar has many benefits for any beer festival. One merit is that by having a keg bar, you can introduce people who are used to keg beers to cask. In fact, were it not for the likes of Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn Brewery and BrewDog, I wouldn't have searched out and explored the world of cask. There are plenty of other CAMRA beer festivals with a keg beer, Catford Beer Festival for example, and I don't want to see Beckenham Beer Festival slowly being left out.
Another point to make on having a keg bar, (which isn't anyone's fault) due to the extreme heat the casks started to struggle later on in the day, by having a keg beer it would allow people to have something a bit more chilled when the temperatures are getting a little out of hand, thus releasing pressure on the cask selection.
The final point for me, is being able to bring in some of the countries best new breweries, many of which only package in keg. Not only is CAMRA then supporting these new breweries, introducing more people to great beer, but this also brings more people to an already successful beer festival.
Overall I had a great time, the beer line up was fantastic and it was great to see so many vegan beers on offer. The weather was beautiful, the beers were lovely and it was busy. We can't wait to see what they have on offer next year!