Well, we survived. Through the beer festivals, the ridiculously strong collaboration brews, the steins of Pilsner at Oktoberfest, and the beer matching dinners. Well done, everybody.
Only in its second year, and Bristol Beer Week has already cemented itself as one of the flagship food and drink events in Bristol’s calendar. The support this year was overwhelming, both in terms of the number of venues and breweries participating, but also the amount of people attending the events.
King Street was a veritable sea of blue and yellow t-shirts throughout the week, which warmed my cockles no end (or that could have been the 11% Buxton Yellowbelly, who knows).
Described by one of the organisers as “like the Edinburgh Festival but based around Bristol’s blossoming beer culture”, this year’s Beer Week has been an excellent showcase of the innovative and exciting brewing culture around Bristol and the UK in general, from the array of specially-brewed beers for the event, to the tap takeovers and the quirky collaboration beers at The Rainbow Project.
The Rainbow Project was one of my favourite events of the week (and was for many others, judging by the reported headaches on Thursday) – the idea behind the event was pairing up some of the best breweries from around the world, assigning them a colour, and sending them off to brew something delicious.
We had a juniper & hemp DIPA from Hawkeshead + Lervig, a gooseberry sour from Wild Beer Co. + Toccalmatto, and an incredible peanut butter & biscuit imperial stout from Buxton + Omnipollo (the real killer of the evening, at a face-punching 11%).
The excitement in Small Bar that evening was palpable – the bar and street outside were especially busy and vibrant for a Wednesday evening, and the mood was surprisingly jovial even at the end of the night, considering what you would usually expect from a bar full of people drinking 8%+ beers all evening. My friends and I even indulged in a late night mass game of Cards Against Humanity with some people sitting on our table – who said community spirit was dead?
The sheer number of events that ended up taking place is too much to recount here, but other highlights for me included the Siren øl Måltid beer dinner at The Beer Emporium on the Wednesday (yes, I did two events in one evening, because THAT is how you do a Beer Week, chumps), featuring 7 courses of tasty Scandinavian food, all matched with Siren’s tasty beers – a great way to get in the mood for autumn with all those rich flavours.
Across the weekend, it was hard to pick a location, but the events at The Volunteer Tavern are always top notch, and Beerfest was no exception. With over 30 beers on offer, and even a cheese & ale pairing session, this was a great place to sooth my rum hangover on Saturday afternoon.
I’d done some sunbathing outside The Goods Yard for Beef + Beer beforehand – because what can be a finer start to your weekend than Chomp burgers and Wiper & True pale ale? The atmosphere at both events was great, and again I was impressed by the turnout at both bars, despite it still being relatively early in the day.
I’m sure all of the bars in Bristol must have noticed an uplift in customers during the week, and in the days where over 30 pubs are closing every week in the UK, everything we can do to support local business and social hubs is appreciated, because let’s not forget, pubs are first and foremost locations for us to socialise, not drink ourselves into reckless oblivion (although, all the better if we can chat with our friends whilst drinking a well-made milk stout, no?).
Back to that hangover, I saw out the working week by co-organising a rum event with The Beer Emporium and The Rummer Hotel, both bastions of boozy magnificence. Rumageddon was a resounding success, with 7 rums tasted (I think we agreed that Gosling’s Black Seal came out on top, which is just as well, because it’s always been my favourite) and 2 different styles of grog (the old navy drink of beer mixed with rum) – the latter being our tenuous link to Beer Week, but we all enjoyed some of the Beer Emporium’s extensive beer selection both before and after (and during, for some of the more hardcore attendees) the event, so it still counts.
Other favourites throughout the week were the No Name Beer Challenge at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, Factoberfest at the Tobacco Factory, the Oktoberfests at The Three Tuns and The Barley Mow, the Wiper & True/Ashley Down Brewery meal at Flinty Red, the epic tap takeover at The Bag O’Nails, and the Beer Dinner at Bishopston Supper Club. Check out below for a proper highlights package, courtesy of Twitter!
In summary, I’d like to thank the organisers of Bristol Beer Week for a fantastic week – I met some lovely people, hassled some brewers, ate some incredible food, and of course sampled an impressive selection of wonderful beers. I’m pleased that we have a beer-centric event to celebrate our fantastic range of local breweries, and continue Bristol’s tradition of celebrating all the things it does better than most, whether it’s urban art, sustainable food, local businesses, or cat pubs. Roll on BBW2015!
You can help fund the next Bristol Beer Week on their website, or take a survey to help them make the next one even better. The Bristol Beer Week beers are also available from these shops around town:
What were your top Beer Week moments? What was the best beer you tried? Are you a brewer I harangued?
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Let me know if you want any of your BBW2014 tweets added to the scroll below 🙂