Two months from now, the beery fates will have conspired to leave me trying very hard to be in several places at once. I will fail, of course, barring some frantically exciting Quantum-Leap style chicanery – so I’ll have to resort to scurrying around, tipsily weaving across the city in a flutter of tasting notes and plastic beer tokens. Why? Well, Philadelphia and San Francisco have one. America (as a whole) does too – and it’s on right now. Our good friends along the M8 also have one, each year, in November. I’m talking about a Beer Week. Edinburgh doesn’t have one, in name – no carefully planned series of events under a single banner. But what’s happening in this city over the second week of July is, to all intents and purposes, Edinburgh Beer Week.
It’s one of those things, where six schedule-clearing events have celestially aligned to take place pretty much on top of each other, leading to some serious forward planning, pre-loaded excuses, and intimate knowledge of Google maps. The fact that three of these events are bigger, bolder iterations of ones established previously only means the liver is going to suffer markedly more, alongside office productivity. So, what are these wondrous drinking occasions? Daysavers all round, and notebooks at the ready:-
WHAT: Edinburgh Independents’ Beer Festival
WHEN: Monday 8th – Wednesday 17th July
Back for its second year, buoyed and challenged both by the success of spiritual soulmate IndyManBeerCon, the Edinburgh Independents’ Festival is the longest of the events, and will have you covering the most ground. Again featuring a range of pubs into the double-figures, this time cocktail bars Bramble and the Last Word will be involved, the numbers of breweries have increased, and collaboration beers have been planned months in advance.
IndyMan raised the bar with regard to presenting beer – but EIBF is one of the only festivals I know that gets you drinking in local pubs, and encourages movement between them. Nothing else showcases Edinburgh as a drinking destination. As we get nearer to July, keep an eye out for the official website relaunch, and follow the EIBF twitter feed for up to date information. Last year, I attempted to get round every EIBF pub in the same day (and failed) – how will I fare this time?
WHAT: The Scottish Real Ale Festival
WHEN: Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th July
Overlapping with EIBF is the SRAF, yielding one of the largest collections of Scottish beer assembled all year. It would be an obvious step for me to talk about these two festivals being diametrically opposite, as the SRAF is a classic, CAMRA, one-room stand-up beer festival. But I won’t – I go to the SRAF every year, primarily because it’s the best place to try new cask beer from across the country.
The festival is heading back to the Corn Exchange for a second time – a huge upgrade compared to the previous locations. Admittedly, it’s not in the city centre, but beer fans will travel to enjoy their drinking in cool, spacious, well-organised surroundings. Check the SRAF twitter feed for the beer list, once finalised. If you can’t wait – these were the beery highlights from my visit last year.
WHAT: European Beer Bloggers’ Conference
WHEN: Friday 12th – Sunday 14th July
WEB: Conference website
Towards the end of the week, Edinburgh plays host to the third running of the European Beer Bloggers’ Conference. Dozens of keyboard superheroes from all over the UK and Europe will be arriving in Edinburgh, keen to discover just what this city has to offer. With topics on writing, social media, beer tasting – not to mention events featuring Fyne Ales, Williams Brothers, Stewart Brewing, Pilsner Urquell and a keynote speech from Garrett Oliver – it’s going to be a cracking weekend.
If you’re a beer blogger, you can sign up here. The price is £95, but that covers all the food and beers you’ll need over that time, as well as the talks and brewery excursions. But what if you’re not a blogger – why should you care? Well, events like this prove the Edinburgh beer scene is one of the best in the country. It will help attract other beery events to the city. Oh, and some of the pubs we’ll be visiting will be putting on special beers for consumption, so fill your boots! Keep an eye out for the #EBBC13 hashtag.
WHAT: Natural Selection Brewing launch Origin
WHEN: Wednesday 10th July
WEB: Official website
Edinburgh drinkers should need no introduction to Natural Selection Brewing – the annual Heriot-Watt student project to design, create and market a beer to the public. Two years ago we had Finch. Last year, Anorak. This time, the third group of students have combined to create Origin – a New Zealand-hopped rye saison. They’ll be launching their project, and the beer, at Bannerman’s on the 10th – smack bang in the middle of the Beer Week. Keep up with their progress on their twitter feed.
WHAT: Brodies Haggis Basher
WHEN: Wednesday 10th July
WEB: Brodies website
Ahh, Brodies. The pride of East London, Walthamstow’s finest have regular, madcap, beer festivals at the King William IV, featuring huge numbers of inventive, mix and match, cask ales. Well, also on during this week of all weeks is Brodies Haggis Basher – the entire team will be transplanted from the other capital to Edinburgh, and will have over 20 ultra-rare beers on at the Cask & Barrel Southside, Hanging Bat, and BrewDog Edinburgh. Check out Craig’s post at Make Mine a Half as to why he’s so excited about it. I can only agree…
WHAT: Archerfield Beer Festival
WHEN: Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th July
WEB: Archerfield Estate
As if all that wasn’t enough, at the weekend there looks like being a beer festival out at the Archerfield Walled Garden – the new home of Knops Beer Company. Spending the end of that particular week drinking more beer might be a stretch, but if the sun’s shining there are few better places to relax than amidst the golf courses and rolling fields of East Lothian. With a restaurant and farm shop on location, a few restorative ales might just be the perfect end to the week.
So, there you have it. Yes, we’re two months away from this particular seven-day stretch, but this post is intended to give notice for booking time off work and stocking up on Irn Bru and paracetamol. There’s no distinct, defined entity such as ‘Edinburgh Beer Week’ – but if there ever was a period where that title could be applied, it’s that week. Four beer festivals, a conference and a beer launch. At the same time. What could be better?
Since writing this post, the Archerfield Beer Festival has been moved to the weekend of the 27th/28th July