North Hop

Glasgow's Craft Beer Rising & Beyond…

Tuesday 11th November 2014

When news that the much talked about beer festival, Craft Beer Rising from London was heading north to Glasgow spread across the social media channels we instantly jumped at the chance to get tickets! This also allowed for a weekend in Glasgow to check out the ever growing selection of bars and restaurants, which we just couldn't resist. And within a day of booking the Craft Beer Rising tickets an alert popped up from itison to say BrewDog Glasgow had just added an offer for their Sunday afternoon Beer & Cheese tasting events and guess what, there was one taking place the same weekend as Craft Beer Rising…if there was ever a sign that this weekend was meant to be then this was it!

Craft Beer Rising, now heading into it's third year takes place every February at The Old Truman Brewery in London but made the brave decision this year to bring it all north to Drygate Brewery in Glasgow on the 19th, 20th and 21st September 2014, for their first Scottish festival. There was a number of different sessions on offer across the weekend including the trade session on the Friday but we opted for the Saturday afternoon session (12pm to 6pm) to leave the evening free for exploring Glasgow. The session tickets were £20 per person (plus booking fee) and included a festival glass and £5 worth of beer tokens. Some folk complained about the price but in all fairness if you look at what is on offer and the atmosphere at these kind of events it's pretty reasonable! 

On arrival the friendly team wrist-banded us up and sent us in the direction of the BEER! The venue, Drygate Brewery meant that their own bar and restaurant was still running throughout the festival with the addition of a marquee for the breweries and a beer garden with street food vendors for Craft Beer Rising festival go'ers out the back. In the marquee there was 30+ exhibitors, mainly breweries with lots of tasty delights on offer. Snap bang in the middle of them all was our friends and favourite Scotch egg makers/sellers/extraordinaires Aye Love Real Food with their selection of free range, rare breed Scotch Eggs that went down a storm at North Hop 2014! And I was delighted to try their 'Spicy One' for the first time, along with a special range of tasty beer infused chutneys and sauces for Craft Beer Rising including a very cleverly named 'Punk'allili, made using BrewDog's Punk IPA.

So with stomachs lined it was time to sample some beers and chat to some of the brewers behind them. And first to wave us over with a friendly, welcoming smile was Nigel from Inveralmond Brewery (another North Hop 2014 exhibitor) and before we had even finished saying hello our first beers of the festival were poured, a refreshing half pint of Sunburst Pilsner, coming in at 4.8%.  

Other beer highlights of the festival included Siren Craft Brew's, Undercurrent, a pale ale with bold flavours, Stravaigan by Williams Bros Brewing Co (also great to catch up with Chris), a Hefeweizen by WEST, their take on a Bavarian Style Wheat Beer, Hibernation White IPA by Bear Hug Brewing (loving their branding) and the special Lemon Grasshopper Saison from Stewart Brewing, one of Bruce Smith's creations. And I also sneaked back through to the Drygate bar to grab myself a half of their delicious Outaspace Apple Ale, first sampled at The Vintage in Leith, Edinburgh back in August.

Another highlight of the festival for me was being able to get my hands on a bottle of Hop.Gin from Eden.Mill by Eden Brewery…hops combined with botanicals to create a 46% gin, hell yeah! Their Hop.Gin was first showcased at North Hop 2014 but alas the joys of being festival organiser meant I never got a chance to sample, but did hear great things about it so knew it was going to be good!

And of course there was lots more great beers and street food on offer and even some music for those who wanted a wee dance but there is only so much beer and chatting you can fit into 6 hours and unfortunately before we knew it our session was up! All in all though it was a great first attempt in Glasgow from Craft Beer Rising and we are looking forward to next year already.

The festival was a great opportunity to catch up with the breweries (some existing contacts and some new), learn about new and exciting expansion plans, discover lots of great collaboration projects and of course sample some damn good beer! And as with North Hop 2014 it was fantastic to see such a fantastic mix of different folk (young, old, guys, girls) attending and getting stuck into craft beer.

The next day, with moderately sore heads we managed to get ourselves along to BrewDog Glasgow for their beer and cheese tasting. The hour tasting, which paired up 6 different cheeses with 6 core BrewDog beers was great fun and was certainly a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. With it being such a small group (6 of us altogether) it allowed us to get to know our fellow tasters who are now planning on making it up, with a group of friends for North Hop 2015!

Other great places we managed to cram into our beer filled weekend in Glasgow were the highly reviewed Alston Bar & Beef at Central Station (great steaks and gin cocktails in stunning surroundings), the gin filled Gin71 (tea room by day, gin palace by night), the outstanding Ox and Finch (think tapas on steroids, good steroids) and the art and design filled The Lighthouse (well we had to fit in some culture somewhere, and the views were outstanding). Glasgow, we salute you for all you food, drink and culture goodness!