The end of winter is in sight and that means beer festival season is upon us. Following a few smaller events, Craft Beer Rising has once again taken over the Old Truman Brewery and here are some of the best beers available.
Craft Beer Rising claims to be the biggest craft beer festival in the UK, offering over 170 breweries from Blighty and abroad. With each exhibiting a number of beers each, there’s almost too many to choose from – last year was great.
Once again I’ve done my best to navigate my way round the whole festival during the trade session to see what’s tasting on point. Of course I didn’t try everything (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this) but here’s the best of what I did.
Hammerton – CRUNCH
- Peanut Butter Milk Stout
- Ok so I’m actually allergic to peanuts so this is the choice of my trusty beer festival sidekick wife Becca. She says it’s super smooth while remaining viscous with a decent hit of chocolate and peanut flavour. It’s nicely balanced between sweet and salty so great for all the peanut butter fans out there.
Also try: Thornbridge – Ena & Harviestoun – Fire Engine Oil
Two Tribes – Urban Rye IPA
- Rye IPA
- I’m a sucker for rye beers and those looking for something a little bit different from your standard IPA should head to the Two Tribes stand where the guys are super friendly. This beer is lush and you’ve probably already had their beers via Island Records. Look out for the new tap room in Kings Cross in April.
Also try: Hook Norton – Red Rye & Brick – Peckham Rye
Fourpure – Maple & Bourbon Imperial Stout
- Imperial Stout
- Next door to Two Tribes is a must visit at the show and it’s hard not to try all of Fourpure’s beers. However, the stand out is this imperial stout which is rich in maple flavour where some others fall short. It’s also boozy enough to be strong but not over the top and the bourbon flavour finishes it off oh so nicely.
Also try: Brew York – Imperial Tonkoko & Goose Island – BCS
Fierce – Aaron’s Flanders Red
- Belgian style red
- Having been won round to a beer of this style after a visit to Brugge, it’s hard to imagine a UK brewery creating anything comparable. However, Fierce has done an amazing job of creating a well balanced beer that’s very drinkable. You also have to try their other beers including Café Racer and Very Big Moose.
Double-Barrelled – $7 Saturday
- Milk Stout
- Craft Beer Rising is the launch event for Double-Barrelled, with their beers not available anywhere else just yet. This milk stout is a solid and drinkable example with smooth flavours, namely of vanilla and also some coffee in the background. Also try the imperial stout and somewhat out-there raspberry and beetroot Gose.
Boxcar – BIG-001
- Belgian Tripel
- There’s not many UK breweries making decent beers in this style but Boxcar’s was tasting great at CBR. This is sublimely smooth with the unusual addition of vanilla and not as boozy as others you might have tried. It’s a colleboration with Solvay Society and uses Mosaic hops.
Also try: Gipsy Hill – Monos Terion
Wild Card – Sorrel Saison
- Sour Saison
- At any beer festival these days there’s a place for sours and CBR 2018 is no exception. Wild Card actually made this as an alternative Christmas beer. It’s a deep pinky-red red colour and lemony in flavour – not super sour though so go for it if you’re new to the style.
Also try: Two Tribes – Non Binary & Fourpure – Peach Sour
Forest Road – Chip
- Pale Ale
- Public service announcement- everyone skip Brewdog and go next door to Forest Road. Although Work remains one of my favourite beers, there’s something new on the menu in the form of Chip. It’s a super fresh pale ale with a grassy hop aroma to die for and goes down so easily. Bosh.
Also try: Brixton – Britzy
Gypsy Hill – Muse
- New England IPA
- The NEIPA style is not going away any time soon and this is a banger – incidentally a collaboration with Boxcar above. Like most beer in the style, this beer is juicy, low in IBUs and will go down a treat. Gipsy Hill’s Abbey style Tripel, Monos Terion, is also something special.
Also try: Wild Card – NEIPA & Brew York – Nuba
Mad Squirrel – De La Nut
- Hazelnut Milk Stout
- Another pick from Becca who was pleased to find a milk stout under 5% making it very sessionable. The beer is silky smooth like drinking a Nutella flavoured stout, without being over the top. The brewery also has an interesting hybrid between a NEIPA and Saison called Ascension worth checking out.
Renegade – Tropic Like It’s Hot
- Pineapple Pale Ale
- This beer is worth it for the name alone but also if you’re looking for something a bit sessionable. The pineapple hit isn’t over the top but enough to be a nice flavour and the beer’s made with Sorachi Ace hops providing a lemon and slightly spicy aroma.
There are plenty more awesome beers at Craft Beer Rising this year so make sure to let me know what’s good in the comments below or on Twitter.
- Craft beer events & festivals 2018: A calendar and guide
- Golden Pint Awards 2017: The best craft beers, breweries and events
- Yeastie Boys’ Stu on Cans, Cask and life after BrewDog