September 20, 2014 Beer, Glasgow 1 Comment

Our Beer Man’s Verdict

craft beer rising 3Craft Beer Rising is one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK, aiming to showcase the very best of the new wave of British brewing.

And for the first time, it is being held in Scotland – running at the newly-opened Drygate in Glasgow until Sunday. It feels like a perfect fit. The sheer scale of the venue means it can continue to run its two bars and restaurant as usual while the various elements of Craft Beer Rising unfold in the cavernous exhibition space upstairs and a large marquee out back.

craft beer rising 1Unlike some more traditional beer festivals, it’s trying desperately to be hip. So there are live sets from dance DJs and on-trend eating options including street food and pimped-up Scotch Eggs.

In the wake of the historic referendum vote, there is a real buzz in the air. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Craft Beer Rising but, oddly, I thought the beer was the weak point.

Yes, some excellent British brewers like Alechemy, Camden, Fyne, Siren and Thornbridge are represented, but there were many outlets there who would really struggle to be described as genuinely craft – or even beer. And there were few unusual or exciting beers to try when I was there.

Each brewery has a numbered stall in the marquee and there is the opportunity to have a bit of a chat with the brewers or try a sample before purchasing a beer.craft beer rising 2

Deciding not to take the plunge right into the deep waters of the higher ABV beer, I struggle to find anything light to start with before opting for the ever-reliable Jarl from Fyne. It’s a solid opener and is as good as always. The Barney’s Extra Pale Ale and Firebrand Mostly Simcoe are next, and they’re okay.

The red ale from Firebrand in Cornwall is the first highlight. It’s fed through a randal – a vessel which can contain ingredients to impart extra flavour into a beer just before it’s served – filled with hops. It’s really tasty: dry, resinous and well-rounded.

One beer aficionado at the event describes Utopia from Alechemy to me as “a beery Um Bongo”. And he’s spot on. It’s a lovely IPA – the aroma of tropical fruits, the bite of hops and a 6.4 ABV all combining to brilliantly refreshing effect.

The Lemon Grasshopper saison from Stewart is great too, and a bargain at just £1.50 a half. Siren’s Liquid Mistress and The Cone from Top Out – celebrated on Lunchquest recently – are other highlights.

I had high hopes for Craft Beer Rising, but, sadly, I don’t think it was a complete success.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s always a treat to visit Drygate – it‘s a wonderful venue – and, at mainly £2 for a half pint, the prices are reasonable.

But most of the beer failed to excite, and the event did feel more like a corporate trade fair than a celebration of the best of British beer.

Craft Beer Rising continues today and tomorrow. Full details here.

3 stars 2

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Written by BKR