The craft beer revolution has forever changed Brits’ taste and drinking patterns, but its impact has spread far wider than just the brewing industry.
Craft beer is also revolutionising the fantastic tradition that is the British beer festival. Known for their cavernous tents, Morris dancers and rows of delicious cask ales on offer – some would say “if it aint broke, dont fix it,” on this subject.
But the vast changes in popular beer recipes and design mean that many new products and makers simply don’t fit here – which is why its brilliant that progressive festivals like Craft Beer Rising are giving an edgier platform for bright young breweries.
Craft Beer Rising was created in 2012 by founders Daniel Rowntree and Chris Bayliss, partnering with leading beer and music experts offering a blend of craft beer, street food and live music.
The fourth edition of CBR was held last month at The Old Truman Brewery, and the organisers are reporting huge growth. CBW talked to co-founder Chris Bayliss about the secret of their success.
Can you give us overview of the history behind Craft Beer Rising?
I cant believe we just finished our 4th London show. Our aim was to bring Craft Beer to the masses or simply help people ‘drink better beer’.
When we first came up with the idea we had no idea how big the audience may be, we just wanted to celebrate our new found love of beer and thought that if we can help others discover it then we may create a good event. Then a ton load of awesome breweries appeared and the early trend setters that turned us on grew and got more interesting, between them they did all the hard work
It amazed me this year to realise Beavertown started not long before CBR was in inception, what an amazing achievement in that tiny time. I remember pitching our original idea to Logan Plant and walking out of Duke’s & Que feeling like we were so far from cool we’d better rethink
How was the growth in your last event?
Amazing, we doubled capacity for 2016 and sold out every show but we’re only just getting going. It’s encouraging and necessary to grow the event to make it work. A dream of ours is to take the festival to a green field site and stage a brew camp, our attention to the music offering should lend itself well so we are hoping this isn’t far off.
What is your opinion of the current trajectory of the UK craft beer market?
Very encouraging, as far as I know Craft Beers are still the fastest growth product in the alcohol trade and the major on & off trade outlets are increasing their Craft Beer offer. This can only mean that the aforementioned ‘masses’ are waking up to bland, generic beers and demanding more flavour and interesting recipes.
Having said that Cider is coming on fast and developing much better offerings and as I write this I’m sat quaffing a Mead (called ‘Mabinogion’ made by the ever adventurous Tom Newman of Celt Experience) Three years ago I probably couldn’t tell you what a Mead was but I’m half way through a bottle and certain that in medieval times the product could not be this drinkable.
Will events like yours play an increasingly important role as the market matures?
Most definitely in terms of the tradeshow element, this is key to the success for the Breweries and us. However we’ll have to work hard to engage consumers, like any regular event we’ll have to bring something new and exciting every time to keep people coming back. We are lucky in that as Breweries revisit our show they up their game every year.
What trends in event management are evident in the UK craft beer market?
Popularity hopefully, there are plenty of brilliant craft beer events; London Craft Beer, Indy Man Beer Con, Craft Beer Calling, Leeds International, Birmingham Beer Bash, etc. All have their own style and purpose and craft beer events should continue to grow, we have a role to help breweries discover new consumers and we should learn from each other how to do that until ‘everyone’ knows there is better beer out there.
What changes would you like seen in the way industry approaches events?
In terms of Craft Beer we are growing up together so continuing working together to create better drinking environments makes sense, not really a change but we’re not trying to change the industry just get people to hear their call.
Do you have any opinion on conflict between associations representing breweries?
Multiple associations with different goals are surely a sign of an industry doing well, debate is a positive thing so we just listen to conflicts from the fence.
We try not to get involved, we need to be inclusive if we want to take beer to the masses. We always said it’s not our job to judge the beer or the brewery, we want the audience to do that and that is why we have breweries selling their own beer. Our job is about connecting producers with consumers and / or the trade. Consumers will vote with their feet and the trade will follow, our opinions mean nothing compared to that.
That said anyone who is still debating if keg is acceptable is a lunatic and they deserve to be missing out on so much joy.
Do you feel that there is any generational gap in the industry?
Every generation wants to stamp its own mark on things and that’s certainly happening with beer, our parents will remember their booze fuelled nights as fondly as we do now.
In 30 years time, we’ll be sat in a boozer designed in the 2020’s drinking the worlds favourite beer; it’s a colab by BrewDog and someone who is currently in a nappy – brewed whilst exiting orbit, fermented on the moon and laser hopped, our kids are telling us its all boring and so they should if they can do better.
The important thing is every generation learns from the experienced and the experienced up their game or suffer the consequence.