I'd previously referred to the nascent London Brewers Alliance. Being based in London, with a finger on the pulse of the beer scene, the good blogger has been tracking the development of this initiative, and indeed it has been subject to a good deal of interest in the trade. I, on the other hand, found out about it when I tried to send prime mover Phil Lowry a birthday greeting via Facebook.
Phil is a Renaissance Man of Beer. His day job, Beermerchants.com has been busy encouraging the UK spoogebeerian to empty their piggybanks with his enticing range of quality craft beers from around the world. He has also 'til recently been found making productive use of the brewery plant at Brew Wharf, drawing plaudits for his (and his associates') interpretations of the New Craft Beer, turning that venue from a restaurant that sold overpriced bottled beer, to a destination bar for interesting and drinkable cask beer.
He's opened himself to beer movements elsewhere, principally the craft brewing guilds located in some of the US beer hotspots, and he decided that London needed something similar to nurture the resurgent London brewing scene. He got a bunch of brewers around a table, got himself a nifty logo (left), and lo, The London Brewers Alliance was born.
Like London itself, the Alliance is a diverse and cosmopolitan group. Members include Fuller's, who brewed almost a quarter of a million barrels in the last year; Meantime, Sambrooks and Twickenham; brewpubs such as The Florence, Brodie's and the long-established Zero Degrees in Blackheath; and recent start-ups like Kernel Brewing in Bermondsey, Camden Town Brewery, and there's a seat for the craft brewers of tomorrow who currently express themselves as the London Amateur Brewers. There are brewers from London, Austria, New Zealand and elsewhere.
From top left: meta Phil Lowry; London Amateur Brewers; Lizzie & Jackie Brodie; meta Camden Town Brewery; Simon Siemsgluess (Zero Degrees) & Evin O'Rioirdain (Kernel); John Keeling getting down; Rabid Bat Fly (geddit?); I'm not stalking Mark Dredge - honest; two responsible licensees
The Alliance hopes to see an inaugural London Beer Week in Spring 2011 (New York's is next week, San Francisco has one in March), but in the meantime, they met their public on Friday 17 September at the London Brewers' Showcase, hosted by Brew Wharf in their impressive Upper Hall. A special collaborative Alliance London Porter was brewed at The Redemption Brewery in Tottenham, and 35 firkins will be available to the on-trade. Fullers have five, and are deciding which of their pubs will have it, says Head Man John Keeling.
I'm not going to bang on about the event itself at any great length. The general point is that there is now a body that isn't representing special interests or protecting a type of dispense. It's a body that will allow the new and young brewers to network with the established producers, and vice-versa, to hopefully find new markets for their products and reinvent a brewing tradition that might have stagnated, the way London has always reinvented itself, by attracting talent, ideas and energy from elsewhere. British brewing, London brewing, is patted benignly on the head by some of our overseas friends. Garrett Oliver is the most recent commentator to declare himself "disappointed". But we are opening up to new ideas, and when they eventually express themselves more widely, it'll be as a fusion of their ideas and our tradition, and London will be at the front!