Beer festival season is right around the corner and 2018’s BeaverEx, IndyMan, LCBF and Hop/Dark City are all set to be as enjoyable as ever. But the UK’s most intriguing event of the year is taking place in the archways of Bermondsey when, come April, Affinity Brew Co. will be hosting a jamboree of cask beer with a difference. You could even go as far to say they’re on a mission to proselytize.
You’ve likely read about the current state of cask, with issues such as market conditions, stability and pricing meaning breweries have forsaken the style altogether. And whilst some might think cask has had its day and should ride off into the sunset, Affinity aren’t amongst them. So come April 7th – 8th they’ll be hosting a festival in the name of reversing the style’s downturn in fortunes.
Now cask for me is a bit like fish and chips. I appreciate it from time to time, it’s got tradition and local provenance backing it up and it’s usually better in the North, but the other alternatives appeal much more to me – and as such I’m going to choose them 95% of the time. Cask to me is fine. but nothing more.
So for someone on my side of the fence, why would this festival be alluring? Well firstly, unlike a lot of CAMRA events (not a dig at them at all, they do some mighty good work) this cask festival is focussing on breweries that are predominantly non-cask centric – like a music festival where all your favourites are playing their underrated hits. And secondly, Affinity are building the event around three themes to address issues drinkers have with cask. Some of which are what stop me from engaging more with the serving style.
If I’m willing to sample the latest bourbon barrel aged, strawberry cheesecake stout with chai seeds and bacon – I’m also more than willing to have my cask prejudices challenged.
Taking a look at the brewery list, we’ve got the likes of Siren, Wild Beer, Northern Monk and Burning Sky, lined-up next to Affinity’s Bermondsey neighbours Brew By Numbers, Partizan and Anspach & Hobday (amongst many others great breweries from the UK beer scene). So put simply, some of the country’s best breweries (most of which more famed for their non-cask efforts) who are all going to be bringing brews to showcase that they are as brilliant at cask beer as anyone else on (or not on) the billing? Exciting concept – check.
And how do Affinity plan to tackle the issues raised around cask beer? The ones that are making people change their minds when choosing between cask and keg?
Pricing – £5 a pint cost for all brews and every brewery being paid fairly for their wares.
Treatment – Beers as fresh as possible and treated in the way the cask should be (i.e. not left sitting for a fortnight and turning to vinegar).
Serving – You can pretty much guarantee that a brewery as knowledgable as Affinity will have people who know what they’re doing at the pumps. And everything is being served in pints which, let’s be honest, is how cask beer should be served.
Intrigued? Well whether you’re a cask fan, cask sceptic or caskgnostic, make a date in the diary for the 7th and 8th of April. No tickets needed and you may just become a believer.
Edit: Due to popularity this event is now ticketed. Check the social media links below for more.
You can find out more about Affinity in this wonderful blog by Peter McKerry.
(Photo credit – Pexler)