Review: West End Beer Fest 2018
Venue: Hillhead Sports Club
Ticket Price: £9.21 (including booking fee)
When I was 11 my Maw took me on my first trip to London, and while we were there we stayed with relatives. I decided that one of the things I wanted to do was a bus tour, so we could see as much of the city as possible and our host, Viv, and her kids came with us. As the bus drove over Tower Bridge, Viv admitted that, while she was a life long Londoner, it was the first time she’d ever been over the bridge. For some reason this was a memory that has always stuck with me, how could she live near something like this and never have experienced it? I thought a lot about this last year when doing a bit of a life stocktake and realised I live in a wonderful city and don’t take enough advantage of all the amazing things to do and see here. So, I’ve been saying ‘yes’ more to friends when they invite me to things whilst also compiling a list of things I want to see and do.
Near the top of that list was attend the ‘West End Beer Fest’ (WEBF), an event I’ve seen ads for over the last three years but never quite managed to get to. This year I’ve really immersed myself more and more in the world of craft beer (my Untappd profile will confirm this!) so it really felt like time to move my arse and get along. So as soon as tickets were available I made sure to get a few, and I’m super glad I did as I had a great time!
It helped that I was there with some of my favourite people, my Maw, my wee bro and my good pal, the lovely Debs. The venue, the Hillhead Sports Club, was also great. A nice big beer garden, with plenty of seats and some lovely sun that I’m sure was put on specially. We arrived early to make sure we bagged some good seats and to avoid queues (although we only really had to queue a while for beer once in the evening). Check in was easy and we were all issued with our WEBF glasses. After dispatching Maw to grab a table we headed upstairs to check out the beer sitch.
Each of the breweries in attendance had their own wee stall, most pouring between 3 and 5 beers (although Alechemy had about 8 on tap!) Prices were reasonable for the quality of the offerings. Most beers were ABVs of 5+% so we decided to stick to third or half pints to allow us to try as many beers as possible, and prices for a half were typically £2-£3. Most of the breweries were Scottish, with a few honoured guests from further afield. Everyone seemed to have at least one IPA on offer but plenty of other choices as well, with strong showings from sours, gose, and saisons as well, likely due to the weather.
The atmosphere was also fantastic, with loads of friendly folk and a DJ spinning tunes both cool and cheesy. There was even a conga line at one point! We only had to deal with one group of slightly obnoxious people who co-opted the event photographer to do their own impromptu photoshoot. During which he almost sat on Debs, then rudely told her to move. Since it was getting a little chilly outside we decided to do just that, and the good times were restored inside. It was the only small blip in what was otherwise a fantastic evening.
Over the course of the evening were tried (multiple!) beers from LOKA POLLY, Out of Town Brewing, Fallen Brewing Co, Fyne Ales, Up Front Brewing, gallus brewing, Dead End Brew Machine, Alechemy Brewing, Pilot, and Deya. The following are some of my highlights:
Mosiac Simcoe DDH IPA, LOKA POLLY
LOKA Polly have been producing some of my favourite beers recently, so it was no surprise that I made a beeline for their stall when we arrived. Among the four of use we also tried their Kaffir Lime Saison and Simcoe Waimea XPA, which were also really tasty, but it was the DDH IPA that really tickled my fancy. A juicy, hoppy American-style IPA, it was VERY drinkable and the only beer I went for seconds of!
DDH Odyssey, Fallen Brewing Co
This golden ale was hoppy but refreshing and was perfect for enjoying out in the summer sun. Big props also to their Cinema Beer which had an interesting salty sweet taste.
Mosaic IPA, Out of Town Brewing
Out of Town have been coming on leaps and bounds recently and this Mosaic hopped IPA was another indicator of this. Although it also helps I’m loving almost anything with Mosaic hops at the moment! We also tried they Rainbow IPA and Glasgow Porter which were also solid beers.
The Sky Keeps Staring at Me, Deya and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Tequila Sunrise, served by Grunting Growler
Grunting Growler has been my go-to place for beer for a while now and they brought out some bigs guns for WEBF (as well as some sweet moves from Grunts owner, Jehad!) The Sky Keeps Staring at Me was a super tasty double IPA, my current favourite style. It was my Maw that ordered this and I was gutted she’d beat me to it, but we made a pact to order as many things as possible and she’s always generous with tastes! The beer cocktail was a surprise, I’ve always been a little unsure of them before, but this was delicious. It packed a punch but went down a little too easy!
Honourable mentions also go to:
- Buzz honey beer and Mochaccino stout, Pilot
- Bring Out the Imp (Côtes du Rhône Cask Aged), Alechemy Brewing
- Death IV, Dead End Brew Machine
- Pale ale (amarillo, mosaic), gallus brewing
Overall it was an excellent night, and I’ll definitely be back next year and I recommend you check it out too!