Every so often, something or someone comes along that makes everyone else up their game to compete. GTA III was an example of this. Nirvana were one too. And Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! another (well, arguably). And whilst what I’m about to say may sound like utter fanboyish nonsense (not least considering that the event is eight months away) – from our tantalising first glance at the upcoming smorgasbord of utter craft beer hype that is The Beavertown Extravaganza – I think we’re onto something special here. I’d even go as far to use the word ‘gamechanger’.
Now you might already be rolling your eyes – picturing me in a Beavertown t-shirt, listening to Led Zepplin and drinking my can of Neck Oil as I write this – but this is big. Granted, with the (not undeserved) hype that surrounds North London’s finest, they could probably have put on anything half decent and people would still be queuing from the brewery to Tottenham Hale tube station to get in. But on the face of it, this event has already gone above and beyond and could possibly have a serious impact on the UK beer scene as a whole. Let’s look at the tale of the tape here:
- The Breweries – We’ve got more than 60 breweries coming so far. That’s an incredible number and we’re not even finished yet. To put this into context, last year’s Saturday session at Indy Man (arguably the UK’s best beer festival) had 39 breweries listed which is pretty damn good in itself. And what Beavertown have put together is an absolute all-star list. How often do we get the likes of Other Half, Heretic, Bell’s, New Belgium, etc. on the shores of Blighty? I experienced first-hand the excitement when Modern Times confirmed for the 2016 BrewDog AGM (as well as when The Artists Formerly Known As Ballast Point confirmed in 2015, but let’s not go into that), and unlike the breweries mentioned above, their beers were accessible in craft beer bars and bottleshops in the UK at the time. Some of the breweries attending The Beavertown Extravaganza have an almost mythical quality to them due to their extremely rare to non-existent availability in the UK and this is rightfully further stoking the excitement. Take one look at any Beavertown post on a social media channel about this event and you’ll see the sheer joy that these breweries, and therefore this event, have been met with (props to Beavertown too for the way they drip fed these on Twitter throughout the day. That’s good solid social media work right there.). AND Modern Times are also there which is nothing but a good thing.
- The Breweries Part 2 – Being in such esteemed company should also have a domino effect on all of the excellent UK breweries attending. We all know how good the likes of Buxton, Magic Rock, Cloudwater, Kernel, Wild Beer Co. BrewDog and, of course, Beavertown themselves are. With competition from all of the heavyweights of international craft beer on offer, this should mean that these breweries will be bringing their absolute A-game to this festival in the same way they do for CBC. And this should make us all very excited.
- Value For Money – A lot of people would likely pay £55 just to gain entry for a festival of this calibre for 7 hours and then pay for drinks on top of that. And you know they would. But in September, £55 is getting you entry, all your beers and access to whatever talks and seminars are taking place. If we weigh this up to what was on offer from the ill-fated London Beer Carnival, it’s tough to argue that we’re not being absolutely spoilt here. Not only that, the annual Rainbow Project (seven UK breweries meet seven international breweries to brew epic beers themed to colours of the rainbow) is also launching at the event, and this in itself was £43 all-in last time. If one was so inclined, you could even justify that you’re paying this for the Rainbow Project and are getting the absolute unfathomable treasure trove of everything else for a mere £12.
- Beer Condition – Beavertown have also expressly promised that beers will be in peak condition, thus giving the consumer the fullest possible taste experience they can have with the beer. This also nixes a complaint that festivals sometimes come up against when bringing in beers from the other side of the world.
- What this means for other festivals – As mentioned in my opener, something as ambitious as this being successful proves it can be done and means that others must up their games in order to ensure they aren’t being left behind. In theory, this means an all-round increase in the already pretty damn high quality of beer festival we get in the UK. Whilst I’d never advocate a festival doing, for example, what some football clubs do and operating on losses in order to achieve this, I’d argue that if/when this event is a success, it’s going to make the next few years of beer festivals much more exciting for us punters.
- What this could mean for the UK beer industry – Coupled with the above, the networking potential at this event could be an absolute godsend for the UK beer industry as a whole. And I’m not just talking about potential collabs. All it takes is a few laughs shared over a third, a couple of business cards exchanged and suddenly a distributor is bringing New Belgium into the UK regularly. Far off? Perhaps. But possible and not without precedent? Most definitely. We’ve been crying out in this country for some of these beers in the fridges of our bottleshops and the taps of our bars for many years, and there’s not a lot of things more likely to make these deals happen than sharing a few beers, face to face.
Finally, what puts the absolute icing on the cake for me is that this came absolutely out of nowhere. It must have taken a hell of a lot of work to keep something this size and scale totally under wraps, so credit where credit is due to all those involved for not spilling the beans.
Now I know I’ve made this event sounds like manna from heaven. But, an event like this takes a hell of a lot of planning and co-ordination to get right. One thing can turn an otherwise fantastic event into #QueueDog. All it takes is for food trucks to be too busy, a lack of servers at a popular bar or even something out of your control like a powercut or plague of locusts – and things can go tits up very quickly. However, from being at last year’s Rainbow Project which was in the goldilocks region for busyness (not too quiet, not too busy – just right), it’s clear to see that Beavertown have learned their lessons when it comes to events. The brewery came under a (Tottenham) hail of criticism from Beaver My Valentine and in true ‘how good companies should operate’ fashion were very quick to hold their hands up and admit they got it wrong. It’s been smooth sailing for them since then and I’m confident that we will see this success translated onto a grander scale.
And this beer fans (if you weren’t already), is something that we should be very excited about.