Our beer expert Andrew Nowell looks at one of the most prestigious events on the calendar for fans of craft beers...
Britain’s craft and independent beer sector comes together this week for one of the biggest and most important bashes in the annual calendar.
BeerX, run by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), is taking place in Liverpool with thousands of professionals from across the industry descending on the city for two days packed with all things hopped.
There will be expert workshops, panel debates, networking, exhibitions of products and services and a trade-only beer showcase with exclusive award-winning brews on display in cask, keg, bottle and can.
It’s the perfect opportunity both to celebrate the strength of Britain’s beer scene but also take a bit of a stock check and see where we are in the world of independent and craft brewing three months into 2019.
One thing I have noticed recently is that there is, once more, something of a changing of the guard going on in the vanguard of the craft beer movement.
A few years ago there was considerable excitement when the likes of Thornbridge, Siren, Magic Rock, Marble and others burst through, along (of course) with the mighty Cloudwater from Manchester.
Those breweries are all in good health, thankfully, but they are now established players in the market and a new generation are the exciting up-and-comers grabbing attention.
Cloudwater, for instance, now has serious competition in the production of hazy, fruity, orange and yellow American-style IPAs in the shape of Verdant from Cornwall.
The likes of Even Sharks Need Water and Neal Gets Things Done show it’s very much a case of the newer brewery being well up to the standards set by the Manchester pioneer’s DIPAs and TIPAs.
Siren’s Broken Dream breakfast stout, as another example, has now almost entered the real ale mainstream by winning Champion of Champions at the Great British Beer Festival.
The space it once occupied for dark beers is now crammed with more recent concerns such as Wander Beyond, with its incredibly sweet porters, and Torrside with things like its luscious and complex imperial stout With Strange Aeons.
And Northern Monk has proved it can do a bit of everything.
Then there’s the Little Earth Project.
Sours are nothing new but this Suffolk firm is definitely different.
Sustainability is at the heart of it, with environmental considerations guiding everything from the power used to the local hedgerows where the fruits are picked.
Its Organic Wild Mint Mojito Sour is a beautiful refreshing blend of cocktail sweet and sour.
Its Hedgerow Blend 2018 is full of fizzing plum and damson flavours.
In a world of impending climate change, could it be that this is the way forward for craft beer? Back to the future, anyone?