London, Edinburgh And Bristol Craft Beer Festivals ‘Raise The Bar’ For 2018


Bringing together 17,000 visitors and attracting over 125 world class brewers from the UK, Europe and US, this year’s London, Edinburgh and Bristol Craft Beer Festivals are back and aiming to be the biggest series of Craft Beer Festivals in the UK.

Up 60% on last year, organisers and founders of We Are Beer, Greg Wells and Dan Sylvester, will once again bring the world’s finest craft beer, headline music acts and incredible food under one festival roof.

New for 2018 and a first for the industry, We Are Beer is launching ‘Raise the Bar’ – which seeks to find new, up-coming brewers and shine a light on creativity and innovation. In a bid to champion new talent, an expert panel will independently blind taste all submissions. They will then select the top four brewers to attend all three festivals providing them with a platform to showcase their beer to 17,000 people across the UK festivals.

The Raise the Bar panel includes: Jenn Merrick, former Beavertown head brewer and founder of a new community based brewery, Earth Station, Ben Freeman, co-founder and brewer at Pressure Drop, Jonny Garrett from Craft Beer Channel, and alongside Greg and Dan from We Are Beer.

Potential brewers (under 2 years in commercial production) are asked to enter online at https://raisethebar.wearebe before submitting some samples of their beer for panel review. Entry deadline for Raise the Bar is Monday 12th March.

Among the first hand-picked brewers to be invited to the London festival are: Mikkeller from Copenhagen, Denmark, Cloudwater from Manchester, England, and Stillwater Artisanal from Baltimore, US. For Edinburgh, the line-up includes: Lervig Aktiebryggeri from Norway, Beavertown Brewery, from London and Tempest Brew Co. from The Borders, Scotland. The full line up of brewers for each location will be announced in the coming months.

Commenting on the festivals Greg Wells, co-founder of We Are Beer, said: “The festivals are an opportunity to celebrate modern beer and brewing culture from across the globe and give beer fans and those discovering craft beer the opportunity to sample a range of beers they wouldn’t normally get the chance to try.

In our quest to champion the incredible upcoming talent we are really excited about the potential for our ‘Raise the Bar’ competition to give young, new brewer’s a platform to showcase their beer on a UK stage,” he added.

Jenn Merrick, founder of community-based brewery, Earth Station and former head brewer of Beavertown and Meantime, said: “I am delighted to be asked by Dan and Greg to be a judge for Raise the Bar. I am a great believer in opening up the industry to a more diverse group of people – so it’s great to see an initiative like this which will support new talent.”

The Craft Beer Festivals will be returning for the sixth time in London, the third time in Bristol and second time in Edinburgh. Dates and locations for the Festivals are listed below:

· Edinburgh – 25th to 27th May 2018, Biscuit Factory, Leith

· London – 3rd to 5th August 2018, Tobacco Dock, Docklands

· Bristol – to be announced

Tickets for the London and Edinburgh Craft Beer Festivals are on sale now: and with Bristol going on sale from March (

Beerlao Tasting Notes


Craft beers are on the rise in the UK. More and more bars, restaurants and pubs are offering beers and brands coming from the farthest stretches of the world to delight and intrigue us. Asia has given us many a popular sight, including Tiger Beer, Asahi, Bintang and Beerlao. One of these brands I’ve known for a while now due to its captivating taste. It’s a brand that has stuck in my mind out of the many beers that I’ve tried over the years and is always something I look out for when I’m out and about. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Beerlao.

Hailing from Laos and its capital city Vientiane, the Lao Brewery Company has been brewing this Asian wonder since 1973, two years after the company first opened its doors. To market a unique product, they combined the European art of craft making with an ingredient that captures Laos heart – rice. A combination of malted barley from France and Belgium, polished rice from Laos, sand-filtered water as well as hops and yeast imported from Germany are used in the original standard brewing process.

* First, the malt and polished rice are cleaned and milled to obtain the fine grist that can be easily dissolved during mashing with brew water. The aim of mashing is to transform starch from the malt and rice into fermentable sugars by enzymes. Once through the mash filter, spent grains are then removed from the clear wort (extract solution) leaving only the liquid, which is then boiled. Wort boiling serves many purposes and all the actions occur simultaneously in the wort kettle. After cooling in a heat exchanger the wort is oxygenated and yeast is added to start fermentation. During this stage, the fermentation temperature is carefully controlled; meanwhile the yeast converts sugar into alcohol and CO2. At the end of fermentation, many undesirable flavors and aromas of a green or immature beer are presented.

The liquid is called “young beer” which is kept to mature in the cool pressurized tanks. The process of maturation reduces the levels of these undesirable compounds. After reaching the maturity, it is then filtered and then the “Lager beer” is ready to be bottled and canned. Beerlao is bottled, capped and labeled through semi-and automatic bottling machines.

So Beerlao goes back to the traditional European method but adding its own local heritage to its recipe. But how does it fare?

Beerlao – 5%

Lots of light malt aromas on the nose with hints of rice pushing through. The palate enjoys a light offering of sweet rice with a mix of malt and grassy hops and is not too carbonated leading to a slightly heavy feel.

Beerlao says “Beerlao marries itself perfectly with Asian  style cooking and fiery spices but has the effortless, authentic quirky style  that is gaining followers who just want to drink a good quality beer with  friends. The perfect serve for any occasion.” To be honest, I couldn’t agree more. It’s one of those beers that you can have in any type of environment and not be frowned upon. And to be fair, if an establishment sells it, you won’t be the only one drinking it either, which is always a good sign.

I managed to find a recipe that would fit the flavour profile of Beerlao perfectly (thanks to Betty Crocker)

Honey Wings
Crisp Honey Wings

Crisp Honey Wings

Ingredients –

16  chicken wings (about 3 pounds)                                           
3/4 cup honey                                           
1/4 cup white Worcestershire sauce                                           
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Method –
1 – Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.
2 – Cut each chicken wing at joints to make 3 pieces; discard tip. Mix remaining ingredients.
3 – Grill chicken uncovered 4 to 6 inches from medium heat 20 to 25 minutes, brushing frequently with honey mixture and turning after 10 minutes, until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Discard any remaining honey mixture.

Find – drink – enjoy!

*Brewing process taken from the Beerlao website with subtle changes made for narrative purposes.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.