The festival takes places across London from 3-13 August, and will see about 75 different venues host more than 100 events, from tap takeovers to meet the brewers and food and beer matching events.
Highlights include the 40th iteration of Great British Beer Festival at London Olympia (8-12 August) and London Craft Beer Festival (4-6 August).
London Beer City founder Will Hawkes said that the festival, which began in 2014, was defined by “diversity, variety and a desire to appeal to a wider audience”.
“If you drank beer in 2005, you’d get some pretty great cask bitters but also some pretty mediocre keg lagers,” he said. “Now the range you can get is just unbelievably diverse.”
“I want to celebrate and promote that by having a very diverse line-up of events; from the Yorkshire tap takeover at Mason & Co to Marble taking over the Duke’s Head in Highgate... that's the essence of what London Beer City is about.”
'Prejudice against beer'
About 60% of the events being hosted as part of this year’s festival are at pubs and bars. Hawkes described such venues as “the heart of London beer” but also emphasised his desire to see more beer in restaurants across the capital.
“Every year we try and have more food events but it’s still a battle,” he said. “Particularly in London as opposed to other cities like Philadelphia or Melbourne and New York. There is still a bit of a prejudice against beer as an accompaniment to food but I think that is changing slowly.”
When asked what trends he expected to be popular across this year’s festival, Hawkes said he expected hops to dominate.
“I expect to see lots of people going to events and seeking out really hoppy beers,” he said. “But I’m hoping and would love to see more people enjoying porters, because London breweries make some of the best porters in the world.
“The one we’ve got on here tonight – FivePoints Railway Porter – is simply exceptional.”
Threat of big brewers
Hawkes added that he accepted the number of attendees across all the events to “run into the tens of thousands” but warned that the recent purchase of London Fields Brewery by Carlsberg demonstrated that big brewers are gunning for craft beer.
“There’s no doubt that – having finally woken up to the possibilities of craft beer – the big brewers are keen to swallow it whole,” he said. “If drinkers are not careful, they could soon find themselves with a few big companies controlling the market.”
Earlier this week it was revealed that beers from Australia, New Zealand and the USA would be exclusively showcased at this year’s Great British Beer Festival.
London Beer City opens at Mason & Co on Thursday 3 August at 6pm. The full list of events and tickets are available at www.londonbeercity.com.