London Beer City: reclaiming the Capital’s beer heritage

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2016 by kmflett

London Beer City: reclaiming the Capital’s beer heritage


I’ve been marking London Beer City 2016 over the last week or so, mostly in third of a pint measures.

I should underline that I’m on the drinking side of things only. I’m not involved with the organisation of LBC.

You can take your view about where the balance between commercial activity and promotion of good beer lies in LBC but my interest here is in its context.

Ten years ago if someone had said to me, around (but not in competition with) CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival there will be an event to celebrate London beers and brewing, my response would have been (to summarise politely), that’ll be a brief affair then.

I was at the GBBF as I was in 1975 at the Covent Garden Beer Exhibition and nearly every one since (from memory I missed one of the Leeds festivals). The GBBF is by far the largest beerfest in the UK, it is not for profit (though hopefully not loss making) and deserves respect and attendance.

My thoughts on the GBBF are here:

Until very recently this post would have ended at that point.

London of course has a distinguished history as a beer and brewing city but in the decades from the 1950s multinational capitalism destroyed that reputation with mergers and closures. Maybe it was good for the bottom line but it was not good for drinkers.

From around 2010 or perhaps slightly before the situation began to change and change dramatically. I don’t keep a running count of London breweries currently at large but the current number seems to be 84.

Given the size of the Capital and its relative economic prosperity that should not be an issue.

You could argue that the speed and success of the change in London brewing is proof that the market and capitalism works. I agree, you could, though I wouldn’t obviously. That is for another post but it is more complex than that or capitalism would be doing a lot better than it currently is.

Rather I’d say that the resurgence of London brewing reflects wider trends. People are fed up with bland mass produced products and they seek the authenticity of locally produced beer tweaked to local tastes.

Anyway London, the Great Wen, is a great City and as London Beer Week proves, and however you want to read it, it is once again a great City with great beer.

My highlights:

1] The pre-launch at Mason & Co East with the London Beer City collab beer

2] The opening of the One Mile End brewery tap in Tottenham

3] The Thornbridge TT at the Craft Leather Lane

4] The Cloudwater TT at Mason & Co East

In addition of course there was the GBBF (as above) and the Rake’s 10th Anniversary party at the market hall at Borough on Wednesday. Beers were curated by Melissa Cole (beard friendly beer writer of the year) and the venue was in its way as unique as Covent Garden for CAMRA in 1975. A night to remember (& I made sure to drink prudently so I could)




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