CRAFT Beer Rising returned to Glasgow for the second year running last month, with around 30 breweries assembling at Drygate Brewing Co, offering up their beers to over 2000 guests over the course of the two-day event.
This year’s beer festival, which took place on September 4 and 5, comprised a trade-only session followed by three ticketed sessions open to the public, and featured a full line-up of entertainment and beer-focused seminars.
And while Craft Beer Rising saw brewers from across the globe setting up shop at Drygate, Scottish breweries formed the core of the festival – with both newly established ventures and veteran operations attracting attention from consumers and the trade alike.
Scottish breweries at the event included Nairn-based Wooha Brewing Company. The brewery was exhibiting all four beers from its range of bottle-conditioned ales launched this year.
Heather McDonald, founder of Wooha, said the event provided some good exposure for the brewery, which launched in April, and helped to introduce the brand to more central belt operators.
“We had some really great trade interaction,” said McDonald.
While tap takeovers and smaller events still prove crucial, McDonald said there is a benefit to participating in larger events such as Craft Beer Rising and North Hop (see page 26).
“The bigger the events the bigger the profile,” she said. “These kind of events are good for getting people into craft beer and educating them.”
This was echoed by Toby Knowles, managing director at Harviestoun Brewery.
Harviestoun was in attendance at the first Craft Beer Rising event in Glasgow last year as well as this year’s events both in Drygate and London, and Knowles reckons beer knowledge among consumers is improving constantly.
“I think customer knowledge is improving all the time,” he said.
“People know their different styles and what they like.”
This growing knowledge means it’s more important than ever that on-trade staff are knowledgeable about beer, said Knowles.
He added that every member of his staff, including administrative workers, must know their beer.
“For my company it’s fundamental that everyone knows the beer inside out,” he said.
“Beer knowledge is growing all the time, it’s very fast moving.”
The speed of change in the market has also been accompanied by a growing prestige for Scottish beer, according to Knowles, who said the nation’s brewers have a “fantastic reputation”, with Scottish craft beer viewed by some as a category in its own right.
Isla Mercer of Lerwick Brewery said she agreed “100%” with Knowles’ assessment and said Scottish brewers have been collaborating to boost this reputation further.
“A lot of Scottish craft brewers are working together through things like Craft Beer Clan to build our reputation and because of our ties with whisky, Scotland is known for producing great drinks,” said Mercer.
This year saw Lerwick Brewery debut at Craft Beer Rising, although Mercer said the event has been on the brewer’s radar for a while.
“We heard about the event last year but weren’t quite at that stage yet, however this year the festival coincided with the launch of our new ale range so it was perfect,” she said.
Lerwick Brewery used Craft Beer Rising as a platform to launch its latest release Lerwick Azure – the brewery’s first IPA – and while the new beer had to compete against some stiff competition and a “friendly competitiveness” in the hall, Mercer agreed that brewers banding together gives them all greater exposure.
“You get more people in and you can reach a bigger audience,” she said.