2013: A Year in Beer

The Collection

Just a bit of beer…

Sometimes I look at my calendar and feel some concern about the amount of beer on it.

This year is turning out to be a bit heavy on the beer front, perhaps not the healthiest of hobbies? I swore I’d fit more cycling in this year but right now I’m not sure where I can fit it. An interesting thing is that there are a lot more non-CAMRA events in the schedule.

2013 kicked off with Craft Beer Rising, a beery day out that ended in BrewDog Shoreditch & too much beer. CBR wasn’t really up to the standards set by IMBC in 2012 alas, that’s my personal take on it. It was a broad shapshot of “craft” encompassing what I personally think of as true craft breweries through to the big twig-co’s (Greene King for example, meh) and some truly terrible shit pretenders (Point from the US, and some dodgy rum-flavoured crap for example).

Less beery was the Windsor & Eton Brewery weekend doing the MITIE London Revolution. Over 180 miles cycling – fun but painful! It took 3 weeks for my knees to fully recover. I’d do it again in the future though and can just hope I fit my beaut Windsor & Eton Republika jersey a bit less like a sack full of lard.

Cambridge Beer Festival happened at the end of May and as per usual I attended on several occasions. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings I believe. With over 200 different beers there are always more I want to try than I can possibly fit in.

Hitchin Beer Festival

Hitchin Beer Festival

We had our own Hitchin Beer Festival in early June. This chewed a week of leave! Up to Crewe on the Monday to pick up beer from off Beat, site set-up on Tuesday, and then Thu/Fri/Sat fest and Sun take-down. We bit off a bit more than we could chew with this this year! Bar managing and also taking over from security at 6AM every day. Thu, Fri, Sat nights: less than 4 hours sleep a night! We ended the festival utterly exhausted and I slept a lot the following week and was a tad laggy at work. It was an excellent & successful fest though.

Next event on my calendar is the North Herts Cambridge Pub Ramble that I’m running. It’ll be fun and I hope we get a good crowd along. I picked a set of pubs, all good, which form a nice loop through town and all have a bit of extra interest to them. I have put notes up on the map I’ve made for the route.

Off Beat Firkins

Off Beat Firkins

After that a quick one is Off Beat’s #FirstyFriday on July 5th. We have some of their firkins out the back, empties from Hitchin Beer Festival. So why not coincide dropping them off with their little monthly at-brewery beer event? Now there’s an excellent plan coming together!

We’re all booked in for the Birmingham Beer Bash at the end of July. Both Saturday sessions including the beer-matched dinner. We scoot up via train on Friday afternoon and will be staying in the Radisson Blu just a short stumble from BrewDog Birmingham. I expect Friday may involve the consumption of just a bit of beer. Train: £129, hotel: £113, Beer Bash: £120 – over £350 spent up front. Not bad for a 2-night weekend away though I suppose. We do take our beer rather seriously, too seriously? ;)

August brings the GBBF – for which I use another week of annual leave as I am there from start-to-finish participating in CAMRA’s intensive bar/beer management course. This ought to be a blast! I’m going to be on Buster’s bar.

Independent Manchester Beer Convention

October brings IndyManBeerCon 2013! Wow, memories of 2012 still glow for me. We were booked in for this “FULL FAT” the day the tickets were released, hotel booked too – the travelodge around the corner again at an insanely-low early rate. So far IMBC is just costing £66 for tickets plus £152.50 for five nights in the hotel. (We’ll be driving up for this one.) Oh, and another week of leave booked!

I’m sure there’ll be more added to this list as time goes by. A Brodie’s gig or something similar in London is always tempting. We’ve still not seen the (now not-so) new Kernel brewery – not to mention not visited many of London’s shiny new breweries, I’m very keen to catch up with where Weird Beard are at. And, heck, we still haven’t even visited the Craft Beer Co. I also would love to get up to Edinburgh again, I’ve fallen in love with the place – though we’ve only stayed there twice. The BrewDog AGM passed us by this weekend, I was on the edge of booking that trip for weeks but decided against it in the end. The inaugural AGM was so good… I doubt future AGMs, while bigger and slicker, will live up to the memory.

Anyway – so far three of my five weeks of anual leave are given over to beer. That’s just nuts, right? I think the other two will go to a December visit back home to the family in Western Australia… where beer will certainly happen. WA’s craft beer scene is an ever-growing beast, interesting to catch in small bites every couple of years.

How much leave, travel, and time to you give to beer? Not to mention money!

We still haven’t quite graduated to making international trips just for beer events. That, I guess, is the next step. One for 2014? Copenhagen, De Molen, GABF? I’d love to catch up with beer folk in New Zealand again too. *sigh*

Craft Beer Rising 2013

Colin at the Rake BarI’m recovering from Craft Beer Rising 2013 today — feeling utterly drained. Over-indulgence in beery delights does that. Of course it didn’t help that we downed some beautiful but strong beers in BrewDog Shoreditch after. Oh, and then had a bottle of Speedway Stout on the train. Ah, and had a pint of Green Devil in the Live & Let Live when we got back to Cambridge. Excessive drunken decadence. (Though in our defence not to the point of illness and memory loss!)

So how was this “Craft Beer Rising” gig? I’ve been asked this question a couple of times now and have been thinking about the answer. The simple answer is: it was a great beer event, worth the trip, and worth the money. Now read on if you’re interested in a much less simple answer…

Craft Beer Rising was a great event! Good beer, craft beer, interesting beer. It had a less craft vibe than the Independent Manchester Beer Convention and it felt a bit more like a trade-show. It had some decidedly not-at-all-craft-why-the-fuck-are-they-here attendees… but if that’s needed to pay the rent, say, and that means that events like this can work and be profitable then it is a small price to pay (and nobody forces you to drink their beer anyway.)

Importantly: Would I go again? Yes! However next time I might try and sneak myself into the trade session instead…

That’s the TL;DR — now for the properly “less simple” version…

Colin at the Greene King bar –VS– IMBC

I’m probably being incredibly unfair. I’m holding Craft Beer Rising up against the Independent Manchester Beer Convention for a compare-and-contrast despite the fact that my experience of the two events was very different. I volunteered for 3 shifts at IMBC, starting with set-up, and attended the entire event from start to finish over 2 days — it was a rich experience. For CBR on the other hand I attended just a single session on Saturday afternoon — more of an in & out surgical strike!

Samples at the Rake BarSo how do these two non-CAMRA beer events compare? Craft Beer Rising felt more like a trade-show than a beer-festival. Each brewery involved had their own little booth — all branded up, staffed by brewery employees, and fronted by a solid high bar. In this sense it felt much closer in spirit to the brewery booths at GBBF than  the more casual & slightly Heath-Robinson IMBC setup. To add to this feel we had many usual-faces of GBBF around the place as well — Marston’s, Greene King, Thwaites, and Brains for example. Even with the same staff in the latter two cases. (They recognised me from GBBF despite the lack of a mohawk!) The only real difference was the occasional keg font — in that sense this was quite clearly unlike a CAMRA event!

The presence of these breweries is probably one thing that made Craft Beer Rising feel less crafty than IMBC… This is unfair perhaps, Brains and Thwaites are making an effort to produce interesting beers that work for us non-traditionalists. Sharp’s too — sure, the brewery is owned by Molson Coors, but you’d be a jerk to call the amazing, weird, and wonderful stuff Stuart Howe does “not craft” just because of that. Marston’s and Greene King on the other hand were notably & unsurprisingly dull. I did try a couple of their ales, the Marston’s single-hop beer and the Greene King Yard Bird, both decent golden bitters and nothing wrong with them. Though to market Yard Bird as inspired by American IPAs is kind of taking the piss if you ask me. It really was a bit “why are they here?” I’m not saying the event wasn’t “craft” because these breweries were present — I’m just saying that my feel for the vibe of the event was less craft than IMBC (which felt like basking in pure distillate of craft). “Craft” is such a difficult & argument-inducing term!

Off Beat - Drink CraftIn my opinion CBR was also notable for who wasn’t present. None of my “top picks” for British craft beer were there. Again this is a purely personal thing… but no Buxton, Summer Wine, Magic Rock, Hardknott, Kernel, or Moor (just to rattle off a few that come to mind). Of course not every brewery can be represented… but for none of these to be there? Hmmm… There were of course Thornbridge, BrewDog, and the aforementioned Sharp’s. Established “craft” players with decent marketing budgets — I suspect that part of the problem might have been the cost of the event filtering out the small guys. (The Rake Bar did a bit to fill the gap. They had beers on from Summer Wine, Windsor & Eton, and Redemption for example. So some of the beer was there but the breweries weren’t.)

The feeling I got from discussions on twitter is that this odd selection of breweries turned a lot of craft-beer-loving drinkers away from the event. No harm done, because the event sold out anyway! However few people I know bothered — even those in London — and thus it was a somewhat less lively and animated affair for us. (Some did go to the “trade session” on Friday, and there I re-note that the fact I went to ALL of IMBC and just one session of CBR does make the comparison unfair.) On the up-side this meant I actually had time to “check in” most of the beers I tried on Untappd. We did meet up with Nathaniel Southwood at least, and hung out with him after the event for some beers in BrewDog Shoreditch — but 3 beer geeks does not a full party make! The sad part of this is that those who chose to reject the event because of the brewery list did miss out in my opinion. Nobody was forced to drink Greene King IPA and the good beer wasn’t any less good just because there was a cask of it in the room. There was some incredibly good beer on offer. I had made a “shortlist” of 16 different beers I wanted to try, more than enough for four and a half hours of drinking. (I didn’t manage to try them all.)

Colin inspects some keykegs...Another contributor to the different vibe was that people were trying to *sell* me their beer. No, not by the glass… they were doing that of course. I mean 50% of the time when I was chatting to someone at a stand about beer the conversation rolled around to how I can order their beer for a beer festival/pub/etc. Business cards… sales people. This contributed to the “trade show” feeling I suppose. I’ve nothing against people wanting to sell me their beer! In fact I’m quite happy to have met a chap from Osset/Rat brewery on this front & may be in touch with them if I do another CAMRA festival order in the future. Basically IMBC seemed to have more brewers and less sales people. That said, several of the breweries at IMBC were ones I’d previously dealt with thus they knew I already buy their beer (and that I already like buying their beer!)

The imported beer selection was odd at best. I think we have US companies trying to “buy in” to the UK “craft beer” market? Stone, Ballast Point, Rogue, yes… some of these make beers that are certainly worth importing. Fordham? Point? No… why bother? What’s the point? And what the fuck was up with the clear-bottled rum-flavoured Innis-and-Gun style stuff? I just felt I was being too heavily marketed at when I looked at some of these set-ups. I’d expect slick brands like BrewDog and Thornbridge to feel like this, but they were pleasant and real by comparison — with stands staffed by people who’re really into beer and not just spouting sales-pitch at you.

I didn’t spend a lot of time people-watching but the general feel and vibe of the crowd was young, so unlike typical CAMRA affairs. I’m used to being young for beer festivals, but at  CBR I felt a bit old! I think the CBR crowd may have been even younger on average than that of IMBC. This really changes the atmosphere of the event — it’s more lively, and as a result more enjoyable. People who know me probably won’t believe that… I hate crowds. But if I have to be in a crowd I’d rather it be a happy-feeling one. This may be a little unfair on CAMRA festivals but they do tend to feel, to me, quite grumpy sometimes.

Pork Pie & IPAI didn’t catch much by way of the talk/event programme. It seemed a little less organised than the IMBC talks/tastings. That said I’m not going to complain about being given free beer and nibbles by Melissa Cole at the one talk I did attend. Beer and food matching of course!

Just like IMBC the food at CBR was excellent… and so unlike most CAMRA festivals! I think CBR did a little better on the food front actually — merely because I didn’t have to queue for 10 minutes to get my lunch! :) However IMBC did have better sausage.

An eternal problem of beer festivals: toilets. The facilities were overwhelmed! Will there ever be a beer festival that has adequate toliet facilities? The worst part about the men’s toilets in this place was the high flat metal urinal. There you are taking a leak and some drunk chap steps in next to you and… well, it’s a bit splashy. Ick.

On that note I’ll wrap up this loose collection of only vaguely organised thoughts. The weekend is over, I’ve not done much at all today and I still feel pretty damn shattered. Craft Beer Rising 2013 was good fun, despite my criticisms, and I’d have liked to have done an extra session… I missed out on a few beers I’m just now hearing good things about. Oh well, maybe next time!

Colin enjoys a craft Carling on the train home.

Colin enjoys a craft Carling on the train home.

Drink Moor Beer — Letchworth Beer of the Festival Presentation

In November 2012 Kathlene and I had the privilege to form a tiny delegation from North Hertfordshire CAMRA to visit the Moor Beer Company in Somerset. The purpose of our visit: to present the “Beer of the Festival” award won by their beer Revival at the 2012 Letchworth Beer and Cider festival. As reported in the previous edition of Pints of View this is a light golden and hoppy beer at 3.8% ABV. Revival was notable from the moment I first broached the cask to be rewarded by a burst of intense aroma, it was like breathing hops. The beer won the festival by popular vote, obtaining twice the number of votes of the runners up.

When you see the owl, you're there.

When you see the owl, you’re there.

Given that Somerset is a bit of a trek from North Hertfordshire we arranged to visit the brewery on a Saturday and stay overnight in a nearby inn recommended by the brewery’s owner and head brewer, Justin Hawke. After checking into the inn we continued on to the brewery… and drove straight past the small side-road it’s on. Returning back eastwards we spotted the correct turn, there was a large road sign visible from the west but no matching sign to be seen from the east. Tricky! We were soon outside a large green farm shed, a wooden owl on a bicycle wheel atop, and us knocking on the brewery door.

The wall-of-awards

The wall-of-awards

We were ushered to a corner to admire Moor’s wall of awards to keep us out of the way at first. A yeast transfer was taking place at the time and you need to be careful with your yeast! This gave us a good opportunity to study our surrounds. Moor is a typical example of a working brewery, all serious concrete and stainless steel. There is a scattering of pallets, boxes, kegs, and one luxury-item: a bottling machine. The yeast was soon safely dealt with and we were able to get the business of the award presentation and photography out of the way. We were then able to enjoy a few beer samples and have a good discussion with Justin, his staff, and a couple of local visitors. The topic, unsurprisingly, was beer — but in particular Justin’s strongly held views on matter of good beer.

Justin prefers to make, sell, and drink what he calls natural beer and doesn’t like using finings in his cask ales. These “finings” we’re talking about here are a chemical substance derived from certain types of fish which is added to cask ales to help them clear faster and brighter. The action of finings is to make yeast in the beer clump up and sink to the bottom of the barrel. The primary problem most people have with finings is that their use makes cask ale unacceptable to strict vegetarians. However Justin doesn’t believe leaving finings out is good only for vegetarians, but that it also makes the beer more flavoursome and enjoyable. Flavour components, especially hop oils, stick to small particles that are pulled down to the bottom of the barrel and thus out of your pint of beer. I have heard others counter that the haze can also carry undesirable flavours and I suspect that this is an argument that could go on for quite some time. At the end of the day the truth is in the mouth of the beer drinker.

I tasted Justin’s cask ales in unfined-form at our excellent inn, the Queen’s Arms in Cortham Denham, and can very much say that the ale was in incredibly fine form. There was a slight haze to the beer, enough to put a frown on the face of many cask ale drinkers even though the beer tastes perfectly good. This, I think, is where the battle-lines lie for unfined ales: the culture of cask ale is one where a beer will not usually be considered perfect unless it is crystal-clear. This may change over time as awareness grows, it may also be aided by the growing popularity of more heavily hopped IPAs. These strong and very hoppy ales tend to carry a “hop haze” irrespective of whether they’re fined or not.

Only time will tell on the matter of whether unfined cask ales will gain a wide acceptance in the UK. Personally I hope they do, both for the sake of my vegetarian friends and also for the simple fact that Justin’s ales do taste incredibly good. The cask of Revival we had at the Letchworth Beer Festival was fined we believe, we will certainly try to have Moor beers at future beer festivals and when this happens the beers will be unfined. You see, Justin used his last finings in December 2012 and from January 2013 all Moor beer will be unfined. You can read more about Moor Beer Company, their beers, and their stance on finings on the brewery’s website: http://moorbeer.co.uk/

I’ll leave you where I started, with Moor Brewing Co’s very fitting slogan:
“Drink Moor Beer!”

Us with the Moor team

L-R: Richard Cann (Asst. Brewer), Tom Scrancher (Asst. Brewer), Justin Hawke (Owner & Brewer), Yvan & Kathlene (N.Herts Committee), Mike Cable (Asst. Brewer), and Fred Wilde (West Country Ales)

Bottled Moor beers are available online through West Country Ales, who have a shop-front in the picturesque Cheddar Gorge. Fred Wilde, shop owner, was at the presentation and we visited his shop the next day to find a great selection of beers. Beaut Cheddar cheddar from across the road, and great west country ale… perfect. You can order Moor beers online here: http://www.westcountryales.co.uk/ — follow Fred on Twitter: @westcountryales.

If you run a pub or beer festival, we bought our Moor “Revival” from one of London’s newer beer distribution companies: Liberty Beer, they don’t currently have any regular deliveries within Hertfordshire but may be able to arrange something for you if you get in touch: http://libertybeer.co.uk/ — they’re on Twitter too: @liberty_beer.

Finally — this write-up was created as a North Hertfordshire CAMRA contribution to the Feb/Mar edition of Hertfordshire’s “Pints of View” newsletter, find it in your local Hertfordshire pub or online here: http://www.hertsale.org.uk/?newsletter


Independent Manchester Beer Convention

Wow… what a weekend!

IMBC Keg Hall – Calm Before The Storm…

The Port Street Beer House folk behind the festival deserve our praise, and thanks, for making it happen. Above all, I hope it is a business success as well as a huge social success. We need more @IndyManBeerCon gigs. I’m sure that, like myself, all beer lovers throughout the nation are hoping this is just the start… I’ve already caught wind of a potential London event of this sort kicking off for 2013.

IMBC Keg Hall – Full-Swing…

Our recent beer festival left us with empty casks that we needed to drop back at Summer Wine and Buxton breweries. Oh, look, there’s this “Indy Man Beer Con” thing happening… several of our friends will be there… could be interesting. They want volunteers too, well – why not? So on Wednesday we scooted north to Holmfirth then south over the wonderful-driving Woodhead Pass to overnight in Buxton. (For beer go to the Queen’s Head or the Old Hall Hotel – we had great condition Buxton ales in both.) Then on Thursday we popped up to Manchester to help out with the IMBC set-up… a day that predictably ended in beer. Much, maybe too much, excellent beer at BrewDog Manchester and Port Street Beer House. The evening was shared with fellow Twitter beer folk & Untapped users Kirk and Chris… as you can guess it was an evening of total beer geekery. Anyway… the next day the festival begins!

IMBC Cask Hall

Weirdly for 2 days of beer festival, I actually didn’t manage to tick off even half the beers I was interested in. Next time perhaps I should focus less on chatting & volunteering and more on the drinking part?! I’m going to list some beer highlights now… at the risk of leaving things out & alienating brewers and fellow drinkers…

  • Dark Star, Critical MassDark Star, Critical Mass (2009) – mmm… rich, dry, bretty stout. Aged since 2009 in-cask with brett yeast perhaps? I can’t find any definitive info online about this particular beer! Right up my alley though.
  • Ilkley, Green Goddess – thick, sweet, spiced dessert of a Belgian “bitter”. It magically has worked, somehow, and tastes luscious. When I was behind the cask bar, this was one of the beers people were coming back to for more.
  • Dark Star, Belgian IPA – this didn’t work for me, though many people loved it – it’s not you, it’s me… However I found it interesting, especially beside the Ilkley offering. To me there was little of that lovely American hop character left in the beer, and just a huge spike of bitterness in the middle of the palate. (Dark Star need to put more info on their website, this one isn’t there either!)
  • Wild Beer Co, Modus Operandi – a brewery I’ll be watching out for. I love “wild” beers, my nose and mouth don’t mind even a lot of wet goat, sourness, funkiness, etc. The MO was balanced & smooth though, a rich & dark saisony sorta beast.
  • Magic Juice ClownMagic Rock, Clown Juice – mainly because Stu, the Magic Juice Clown. But also because it is a great beer.
  • Hardknott, Queboid – don’t misunderstand, I don’t rate Hardknott beers just because Ann & Dave are my friends. I stalked and badgered the Hardknott folk, and eventually got to know them, because I like their beer. I’m a Queboid fan and have a small collection of bottles spanning several batches going back about 3 years. This was my first experience of it on draught, and it was goooood! Dave’s really perfecting it, if not perfected. (Though I do prefer it a few degrees warmer than it was, between 8 and 10C.) I spent some time at the Hardknott bar and did enjoy introducing people to this beer and sharing in their newfound love of Queboid. (I was in no way threatening in suggesting they should love it… really, I swear.)
  • Hop RocketBitches Brewing, Chocolate Chilli Stout – through a “hop rocket” full of chillies, and with an extra smoked naga chilli thrown in just for fun. WEAPONIZED STOUT! I had this beer for about 2 hours before topping it up with more of the stout and by that time merely placing it in the vicinity of your lips caused them to try and crawl back into my mouth and down my throat. Naga foolishness aside, the stout was a grand obsidian elixir – my favourite type of beer.
  • Buxton, Tsar – following that previous point, need I say any more?
  • @MacChater prepares @SWBrewery beery cocktailsSummer Wine – the whole mixology tasting session! I’m a flavour fiend, and this sort of monkeying around with people’s perceptions & entrenched ideas about food and drink is right up my alley. Beer as a cocktail ingredient?! Don’t be daft! … but why not? Their beers themselves are brilliant, and of course divisive as any such creatures will be. Stout with ginger? Beer with licorice? Good thing I love both ginger and licorice. The gin and Paracelsus beer cocktail was just too much gin for me, I like gin… but in this case it dominated. Less next time? The rum and Calico Jack, with chocolate orange wedge, was a huge success on my tongue. I’m going to have to buy more Calico Jack now I think. Massive thanks to @MaxChater for putting this together in collaboration with the Summer Wine dudes.
  • Lovibonds, 69 IPA – a legendary beer that I’ve never managed to get into my mouth until IMBC. It really lives up to its reputation. Lovely IPA and I really must visit Lovibonds sometime… and buy a case of it. :)
  • Tempest, Brodies, Thornbridge, Kernel, Marble… too much amazing craft beer? Never! But every one I didn’t get to experience is a wrench to the heart & a deep sobbing in the soul in memory of beers still untried. Sour beers shouldn’t go unmentioned. Cantilion on cask! The Lovibonds Sour Grapes! Oh my, the sheer diversity of it all…
IMBC Cask Bar@SWBrewery Barista & the Quantum/@NorthTeaPower collab at the coffee bar!Kegs!

For me, personally, the IMBC was actually more about people anyway. Friends who I’ve met several times like @HardKnott Dave & Ann, Twitter-personalities who I’d had yet to meet like @SimonHJohnson, even coffee gods like @HasBean Steve! Not to mention brewers… many, many excellent brewers. Also folk like myself from the fringes of the beer scene – brought together in one place by the love of really great beer. Nothing else I’ve been to in the UK is comparable… GBBF, for example, doesn’t come close. It is probably a density issue – IMBC was simply wall-to-wall with the sort of beer people you want to meet. It turned out there were people there I should have met but somehow missed, chances are we were within a couple of meters of each other. So, while the IMBC beers were astounding, it really was the people that made this festival come alive. People were the magic-ingredient, beer the not-so-secret-sauce.

The quality didn’t stop at the beer and people however. The organisers had gone out of their way to get it all right. Food wasn’t an afterthought, as it too often is. Not only was there a beer & food matched dinner available to those organised enough to book it – the general festival food was varied & exciting. Gourmet hot-dogs, brilliant quality curries, and a selection of the old staple pig products. I tried them all, everything was up to scratch. If only some didn’t run out of food so early! And COFFEE! I’m a coffee geek as well as a beer geek – quality HasBean filter coffees thanks to the wonderful people at @NorthTeaPower in the afternoon? Yes please! On top of this having @acousticcoffee Dale and @HasBean Steve at the festival was almost overload… context switching between drinking & talking coffee, and serving, drinking & talking beer almost broke me I think.

Sausage inna bun queue...

Sausage inna bun time…

Posh pie!

Posh pie!

IMBC coffee heroes!

IMBC coffee heroes!

The venue too… stunning. If you’re in Manchester you must visit the Victoria Baths. Such an exciting building to hold a beer festival in, so many nooks and crannies, such architecture! You’ll get the general idea from their own website, and some of the festival photos. If there was one downside it was the capacity of the men’s toilets. I suspect this may have been part of the reason the venue was limited to 500 tickets per session when I’m sure the bars could have supported at least 50% more. Next time I wonder if a trailer of toilets out the back might be a reasonable addition to proceedings.

The “what is craft beer” debate raged on throughout the festival. We’ll never have a satisfactory definition for something so based in the eye of the beholder. Though for me, in this moment, I’m thinking craft beer is IN the beholder. Craft beer is people. Brilliant, wonderful, friendly, diverse people.

Get some Clown Juice in you!

Get some Clown Juice in you...

Don’t just take my word for it though — here’s more: