Who can remember what beer festivals were like? It’s been a long time since events like that have been possible. Hundreds or thousands of people mixing together, chatting, breathing, spraying saliva over each other’s drinks…what was once normal now feels alien, almost perverse.
And, as with all things perverse, I was there at the front diving in head-first.
If you made your way down to Print Works in Surrey Quays between the 29th and 31st July, you’d probably have found yourself in a gigantic queue. Funneling thousands of people through ticket checks and reviewing everyone’s Covid passes is no small feat.
Fortunately, we had something a bit more exciting to queue for than a supermarket. Stop one is the food section, where the wise boozers hung around to line their stomachs for the festivities ahead. Beyond that, a room filled with tables and benches, and further still, two rooms filled with dozens of stalls serving up beer, cider, mead, hard seltzer, whisky, and just about every other alcoholic beverage you could think of.
And yes, the event is dog-friendly.
Goofyhoof, Gorgeous Brewery
Chico went down a treat with the festival-goers, but nobody was quite as bowled away by him as Lydia from Gorgeous Brewery in Highgate. She promptly plopped him on the bar for a promotional photoshoot.
Gorgeous is a family-run brewery that makes beer you want to drink all evening. While I love a triple-hopped mocha-cherry-bourbon 16% imperial stout, sometimes you need something a little more quaffable.
Their Pacific pale ale, Goofyhoof, fits the bill. It’s light, summery and fruity, packed with peach and tropical pineapple aromas. And at 4.6%, it’s not going to floor you after your first half pint. It’s exactly the beer you want to cool yourself off in a sunny beer garden.
Dank Marvin and Kveik, Abyss Brewing
One thing I love about festivals is the camaraderie between stands. In other fields, you could easily imagine competition creating friction between neighbours. Not so here, where instead we traded Wee Smoky brambles and bloody marys for cups of fresh beer.
Our neighbours to the left were Abyss Brewing, who won the Brew//LDN accelerator competition back in 2020. They took a break from building their new Lewes taproom to show off their latest creations at the festival.
They love showing off individual hops that don’t get a lot of love elsewhere. That’s the thesis behind Road Trip, a series of single-hopped beers highlighting hops such as Centennial, Comet, and Ekuanot.
While I’m off duty, I pop next door and pick up some of their Dank Marvin. It’s an intensely fruity yet dry NEIPA with a thick, satisfying mouthfeel. Their Kveik beer is also excellent, balancing barnyard funk with Sicilian lemons and a soft, oaty sweetness. I’ll be looking forward to more in their taproom when it opens in the autumn.