While diligently working through The Rake's beer list at last weekend's Thank Goodness, No Guinness! Irish Craft Beer Fest, I started thinking about events. I'm not sure if it's me, or if it's A Thing, but I seem to be seeing more and more Meet the Brewer, tap takeover and tasting events in a growing number of venues.
Of course, venues like The Rake and The Bottle Shop in Bermondsey have always run reasonably regular programmes, and craft-focused venues like the Craft Beer Co. and Brewdog have always been somewhere to find events. It could be that I wasn't really taking notice of what was going on, but it feels like right now, there are two or three events a week popping up and as well as local brewers, some of the best of the young brewers from around the country are bringing their beers to London. For some of the bigger brewers like Beavertown, I can see it's a useful way to get their new or seasonal beers in front of their fans when they can't get to the taproom, but I wonder whether it means a younger or smaller brewer doesn't get a chance.
There does seem to be a gap which nobody is filling (not least the LBA), and that's an event which showcases new and younger brewers. I spoke to a couple of bar owners who said they took a lot of calls each day from local brewers wanting to get their beers on the bar, and they don't have time to devote to properly checking the beer out. Seems to me they need a regular-ish trade event with half-a-dozen brewers who can meet the trade for a couple of hours. Maybe food for thought. The lads I spoke to thought it was a good idea.
There's a network growing up and young people on the periphery of the industry with lots of ideas, and it doesn't take Nostradamus to see that eventually there will be an end-to-end events network catering to a wide range of demand, from launches and tap takeovers of local and other beers, to packages for pubs and bars who are keen on adding craft to their offer and want to engage their patrons. I've had more than one conversation with a beer enthusiast who wants to get into bars to host talks and tastings.
I've even been helping one of them. Step forward Alexis 'Big Al' Morgan, beer Everyman and brewery tour guide at Meantime. A chance meeting in December has led to my acting as wingman for an offshoot which sees the Big Man aiming to take his memorable presence into venues, where he'll take them though matching beer and curry, or the History of London Brewing, or some other ideas under development.
He'll be doing his History of London Brewing tasting and talk at The Arbitrager in Throgmorton Street, on April 5th from 6.30pm. If The Arbitrager is bigger than The Rake, then it isn't by much, and they've been developing a very nice London-centric beer offer across their eight taps.
The talk covers the history of porter, IPA, imperial stout, pale ale and bitter, and for £20, attendees will get third-pint samples of each style of beer and an insight into why London was the worlds' greatest brewing city for 100 years, all related in Al's inimitable style.
If you're interested, call in at The Arbitrager, call on 020 7374 6887 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are limited, so don't delay.
It occurred to me that it might be worthwhile doing a fortnightly summary of London beer events, with a feature on one or two which look interesting of offbeat. If you've got something planned you want to publicise, drop me an email or leave a comment, and I'll follow it up.