Bristol already has a well-established and popular annual real ale festival but this is the first beer festival dedicated to craft beer. Organised by the London Craft Beer Festival, it coincided with the final day of the Bristol Beer Week and the opening session was billed as both a trade session and a closing party for annual event.
The festival featured Bristol breweries such as Arbor, Wiper and True, Lost and Grounded and Left Handed Giant; UK favourites Cloudwater, Magic Rock, FourPure and Thornbridge; and international breweries Sierra Nevada (US), Sori Brewing (Estonia), Two Road (US) and White Hag (Ireland).
Held at Motion – a series of old warehouses that have been converted into an acclaimed nightclub – the venue consisted of a high-ceilinged single warehouse with a mezzanine floor for a bottle shop. Motion is around a 10-15 minute walk from Temple Meads station so is easily accessible.
I liked that the venue wasn’t too large but still managed to squeeze in around 30 breweries. I attended the Friday day session which wasn’t busy so was very easy to get served and the staff weren’t overly busy so you could have a chat about the beers.
Unlimited Pours Format
When beer festivals have dozens or even hundreds of beers to taste, and a minimum measure of a third of a pint, you have to formulate a strategy for choosing the beers that you want to try and perhaps avoiding too many strong beers or beers that sound too crazy to risk buying a third of.
A popular format for beer festivals in the US is to offer a single entry fee and then unlimited samples over a set period of time. The aim is to allow you to have the freedom of trying as many different beers as you like and not having to worry about throwing away the beers that you don’t like.
This format is still new in the UK and this was the first festival that I had attended in the UK that had adopted this format although I had experienced it in the US at the Great American Beer Festival and and at the Copenhagen Beer Celebration.
I had read some comments prior to attending mentioning how many small measures you’d have to drink just to get the price down to £5 a pint which may well have been true but I preferred paying a flat fee and not having to worry about how much each beer is going to cost. I paid £30 for my ticket which was great value for a five hour beer tasting session.
Standout beers from the session included a stunning cucumber IPA called ’Summer O’ from a French brewery (the name escapes me), Bloom IPA from Verdant Brewery, Patrons Project 1.02 – a Costa Rican Coffee Porter from Northern Monk and Delirious – a DIPA from Sori Brewing out of Estonia.