London Craft beer Festival organised by We Are Beer crew, teamed with Fever and Secret London has launched its 2018 edition at the Tobacco Docks, Wapping. Apart from craft beer from over 60 local and international breweries, visitors can enjoy a range of talks on the industry, food halls, music throughout the weekend until Sunday 5th August evening.
Raise the Bar was a series of talks and Q&A on craft beer industry hosted by Jenn Merrick and were opened by Greg Wells, the co-founder of the online publication We Are Beer. The discussions followed by Jenn Merrick (of Earth Station, and ex-Beavertown) on focusing on quality and structure of the brewery staff when working on products.
Bruce Gray, from Left Handed Giant and Small Bar, delivered a talk on what would be the alternative route to growth of the brewery, instead of focusing on numbers he proposed focusing on creativity, innovation, putting good ingredients in, putting a good tap room and offering a good wage for staff.
James Rylance of the Harbour Brewing Co. talked on running a farmhouse in the middle of Cornwall, where he has an abundance of herbs, animals (chicken, pigs with their own names) and how this farm offers sustainability with cooperation with the local community to make sure all that is produced is in use. The purpose of working on a farm, apart of getting good ingredients, was creating an engaged audience through a personal approach. Funny, how James's face lit while he was talking of taking care of the pigs, their names and looks: "My instagram is all pigs and barrels".
Following on was Jon Lewis of Aroxa talking on implementing a sensory panel in the brewery and emphasisizing the importance of hiring the right staff and how to best go through the recruitment and which points to look at when hiring.
Matt Johnston of Collective Arts delivered a talk on using art and culture based approach to building brand and business, he emphasized the importance of authenticity, which should be the foundation of every brand.
One of the most engaging talks was Key Keg on sustainability on the future of packaging, using of plastic and solutions on combining the growing industry with the ecological concerns. After the talk she was approached by brewers wanting to get more tailored advise suiting their ideas.
Olivier van Oord from Netherlands based Mini Brew together with Ko Hendriks and support from Bart van de Kooij have demonstrated beer brewing technology to the audience using the machine developed throughout over three years works at the company. They developed seven prototypes and through their compact size and easy use, they want to prove from experience that craft beer can be brewed everywhere, even in a hotel room.
Following the technology part, the next speaker Chris Pilkington representing Estonian brewery Pohjala advised on being truthful to own ideas when brewing: Brew what you want, as people will follow consistency. As an example, he mentioned despite a hot summer day at the festival, their best selling beer was a 14% porter, because that what the brewery is know for. Chris mentioned the focus in his brewery was strong, dark beers, local ingredients (in some, including a tree bark from the forest, gin barrels, carefully selected hops) and collaboration.
Lily Waite, head of content at We Are Beer, emphasized the inclusiveness and diversity as an integral part of the breweries' success. She mentioned she monitors the actions industry takes to promote diversity, such as Gypsy Hill brewery supporting charity helping disabled and developing initiatives, such as lowering the bar level to accommodate better the disabled clients or staff. Her talk was the one followed with the most questions and discussions among the audience, showing the issues of disability and inclusiveness are those that many people notice and want to improve.
The final discussion on the Friday series was delivered by writers Pete Brown and Adrian Tierney Jones working at the Original Gravity Magazine. They presented their beer, food and travel related writing, the memories from the trip to Frankonia, Germany and the opinions on craft beer industry. For the panel, they invited James Endeacock of Rought Trade and 1965 Records to discuss the similarity of beer and music business, the issues of authenticity, the attitude towards money in both industries and whether having it means that the act still possess the authenticity. James claimed that the music has become a career option rather than something that you have to do as an expression of yourself. The guest mentioned his upbringing in Yorkshire in a humoresque way, where the beer taste was the main factor, apart from how much it costs: ("3.50 a pint, are you having a laugh?").