The Great British Beer Festival

As a nation we seem to be rather fond of sticking ‘The Great British’ in front of whatever we can, but when it comes to a beer festival it does seem rather appropriate. However this is not just one beer festival it’s two. The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is taking place in west London, organised by CAMRA the campaign for Real Ale. East London is hosting the London Craft Beer Festival. With a mix of the ancient and the modern, the long standing festival and the newcomer it’s going to be interesting to see how well they fare against one another. The GBBF is something of a national institution and has been taking place for at least the last thirty years. The newcomer to the festival scene is promising to bring something different, placing its focus on the best craft breweries from across Europe. While it may appear that the two festivals are running competition with each other, is that really the case?

Photo by Odin5491
Photo by Odin5491

About the Beer

The beer really must be the most important part of the festival experience, whichever you choose to attend. CAMRA has something of an obsession with beer and this year’s festival will see more than eight hundred real ales, perrys and ciders in attendance, as well as some foreign beers. You can bet that the majority of the brews on offer will be cask conditioned ales from UK based breweries. With so much to choose from you can almost guarantee that even the fussiest of beer drinkers will be able to find a beer or two to tickle his whiskers. There have been some criticisms of CAMRA though, claiming that they are out of date and failing to keep up with the times which could be why the craft brewers are choosing to hold a festival of their own. While the craft festival may not have as much of an extended range of beers as at the CAMRA event it will highlight the new breweries. Many of these new breweries are actually based in London and are looking to bring something new to the notice of the traditional beer drinker.


Whichever event you choose to attend; the CAMRA Event takes place at Olmpia from the 13th – 17th August, and the Craft Festival runs from 8th – 13th August in the Oval Space in Bethnal Green, you can be sure that aside from the beer there will be other facilities on offer. Food is important, especially at a beer festival, you need something to soak up some of the alcohol. The GBBF will have more food options as it’s a much larger event while the Craft Festival is boasting a barbeque and a selection of street food. Both events offer festival goers live music: the GBBF opting for a traditional line up including Alvin Stardust as a headline act, while the Craft festival is going for more contemporary performances and DJ’s such as Craig Charles (Red Dwarf) from BBC 6. You could of course choose to spend a day at each and compare them for yourselves to see which one comes out on top.

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