After missing out on last year’s inaugural event, I headed along to Glasgow’s Drygate brewery last month to attend Craft Beer Rising, which promised to bring together some of the country’s top brewers for one weekend of beer, food and live entertainment. My hopes were high for this one, but unfortunately, I was a little disappointed.
After a late start, we had to queue for around twenty minutes to get in, due to the disorganised entry system on the door i.e. plenty of people milling around but no-one doing that much. I was also surprised to discover that our £12 ticket only covered the cost of entry and a glass to take home. Usually you would expect your first pint or half pint to be covered by the ticket price.
Events like this always succeed or fail depending on the quality of their line-up and I’m afraid that Craft Beer Rising fell into the latter category. There was a noticeable lack of both emerging and established Scottish breweries on show, including Fyne Ales, Black Isle Brewery, Tempest and Pilot. At what was billed as Scotland’s premier celebration of craft beer, these breweries were noticeable by their absence, for whatever reason.
Also, some of the major breweries who did attend brought a relatively uninspiring selection of brews with them. Of their five taps, Brewdog had one dedicated to Punk IPA and another was serving Dead Pony club. And of William Brother’s four taps, Joker IPA and Caesar Augustus were hogging half the spots. Great beers, yes, but you can get them in almost any bar in the central belt!
Admittedly, some had put in the effort. Beer delivery company Beer 52 was representing a number of smaller breweries, including the absent Pilot. From here, Beer 52 had brought along a Citrus and Basil Tart, which was zingy and citrusy, whilst still maintaining a beery mellowness. Edinburgh’s Stewart Brewing presented us with a souped-up Radical Road, which offered double the hops, double the ABV, and thankfully, double the taste! On the taps which weren’t selling their core range, William Brothers had a couple of experimental brews too. Renounce The Devil: Secret Path was the better out of the two, but packed a fair punch at 9% ABV. Al great beers but these were a couple of high points amongst a very uninspiring field.
A bit of thought also needs to go into the additional entertainment. Yes, street food is very on trend right now, but a takeaway van charged me £7 for a couple of mouthfuls of curry. The background entertainment was also terribly intrusive, with my fellow drinkers and I having to leave the tent whenever we wanted to have a chat about the beers we were supposed to be ‘celebrating’.
I don’t normally write a blogs which are this negative but I just felt that Craft Beer Rising got a whole lot of things wrong. This is only their second year though and maybe they’ve tried to grow the event a bit too quickly. Hopefully some of these issues will be ironed out for next year’s event and Craft Beer Rising can give Scotland the beer festival it deserves.