Every summer, the world’s young (and not so young) adorn their arms with an ever-growing number of wristbands from music festivals. Each is a trophy, a plastic testament to their summer of mud. But why should ravers be the only ones to show off?
Next week, you can join in – and you won't even need to smuggle contraband past bouncers or sleep in a tent filled with mud. This, people, is the Holy Grail of wristbands, the key to unlocking (at a reasonable price) Britain’s favourite alcoholic beverage: beer.
From the people bringing us May’s London Wine Week and October’s London Cocktail Week, we now have London Beer Week. For seven days, it’s a journey into a bygone era, where you could walk into a pub with a £5 note, safe in the knowledge you can afford a beer and a pack of crisps. A £10 London Beer Week wristband gets you beer for £3 a pint; Londoners will have to travel a long way out of the capital (or back in time) to find prices like that. Here are three events to check out during the week.
CRAFT BEER RISING, THE OLD TRUMAN BREWERY, 19-22 FEBRUARY, £17-£20
Craft Beer Rising gets better every year, and is a partner of London Beer Week. Although this isn’t a wristband event, the entrance fee is inclusive of a £5 beer token. The best thing about Craft Beer Rising is the conversations you have with the people representing each brewery. It’s effectively a tour of the British Isles through the medium of beer.
THE HOBO SALOON, 33 MARSHALL STREET, W1F 7E, 16-22 FEBRUARY, MIDDAY TO 9PM, FREE ENTRANCE
Tom Sandham and Ben McFarland – better known as the Thinking Drinkers – have a pop-up worth stopping by. You bring your lunch and they’ll take care of the beer. Hobo beer is named after the migrant culture that sprang up during the US Great Depression, when folk would travel to seek work and refuge by walking along long roads or “riding the rails” on freight trains. Their beer is pretty decent.
BREWING EXPERIENCE DAY, BREWHOUSE AND KITCHEN, ISLINGTON, TORRENS STREET, EC1V 1NQ, 22 FEBRUARY, £99 (£89 WITH WRISTBAND)
For those dreaming of an early retirement or dropping out of the rat race, Pete Hughes, chairman of London Amateur Brewers, will be on hand to teach you how to brew. The price includes breakfast, lunch, beer tasters, hands-on brewing and expert instruction – and a 5-litre mini keg to take home at the end of the day. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading “LBW Brewing Experience 22 Feb” to find out more.
London Beer Week also features a few beer cocktails, including one at my semi-regular haunt Dabbous. The Michelin starred establishment has an underground bar run by Oskar Kinberg, who regularly mucks in to pull pints. You may need a map to navigate the intricate flavours on the cocktail list, but that’s exactly what bartenders are for. Have a conversation with the staff before making a decision – there is one for everyone.