Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
For Beavertown Brewery, February the 14th 2016 was memorable for a few of the wrong reasons. What should have been a joyous celebration of the London brewery’s fourth birthday was mired by the inability to cope with the volume of people that turned up to party on the day. No one could have expected almost 4000 people to arrive at the gates of Mill Mead industrial estate for the free festival. It was a sign that British Craft Beer was coming of age – and beginning to seep into mainstream beer culture in the process.
Brewery employees tried to placate the line that snaked out of sight with free cans of beer as they waited on the hope of entry, but this was of little avail. Within an hour of opening the gates were shut for the safety of those that were lucky enough to get inside. Sadly, the majority of people who ventured to Tottenham on that cold and wet day faced the choice of a lengthy wait to get inside or finding another venue to enjoy a beer.
The Beavertown employees and the many volunteers, of whom I was one, tried our best to ensure that everyone inside had a good time. We think it worked for the most part – we made what we could of it. Needless to say it was both a lesson in event organisation for the brewery and a realisation for everyone just how big UK craft beer was becoming.
Fast forward twelve months and I’m back on the 41 bus heading to the same Tottenham industrial estate for Beavertown’s fifth birthday party, this time as a punter not a volunteer. I'm hoping they’ve had the sense to build true foundations for what should be a great celebration on top of the issues that mired last years event. It should come as a surprise to no one at all that they had. Even the sun came out to greet the 500-or-so folks who had purchased an all-beer inclusive ticket several months previously.
Collaborations and guest beers from five of Beavertown’s industry friends, including Bristol’s Lost and Grounded plus Denmark’s Dry and Bitter poured along side an impressive range from Beavertown itself. Queues existed but flowed smoothly and without hesitation, there was plenty of food options from Korean style burritos to tasty beef rendang and the music was both loud and excellent. This was a party in every sense of the word – and more importantly, its success is a sign that this is an industry that’s growing and learning together.