Bigger, better and back

Glasgow beer festival returns for a third year this month

CRAFT beer aficionados in and around Glasgow will be marking July 21 and 22 in their diaries as Glasgow’s West End Beer Festival returns for its third year.

• The festival will feature craft beers from across Scotland as well as further afield.

Attendees at the event, which takes place at Café Source Too, will have the chance to sample some of the newest craft beers from Scotland as well as several from further afield.

Organiser Conor McGeady told SLTN the event feels like “his baby”, having personally run and developed the festival since its inception in 2015.

He said: “In the first year new breweries were coming along from the Glasgow area. We had a couple of gypsy brewers like Floodline and Monolith as well as a few new guys on the scene.

“In the second year we expanded and had even more gypsy brewers. We brought in Jake Griffin [joint head brewer at Drygate], Gallus and the craft beer shop Grunting Growler.

“This year we’ve added some new folk again and the majority of them are from Glasgow and the surrounding area. Glasgow is a city that went from having just a couple of breweries to having places like Drygate and all these gypsy brewers. Now there’s too many for me to name off the top of my head.”

More people are educated on craft beer. It’s not as pretentious as people once thought.

Alongside the plethora of craft brewers, this year will see the Good Spirits Co bring its line of experimental beer cocktails to the event.

The breweries participating in the festival bring along their own bars so attendees can buy beer directly from the producer. McGeady said this was designed to give “the best Scottish craft beer experience while keeping the prices down”.

The growth of the festival mirrors the growth of the wider craft beer movement across the on-trade, where craft connoisseurs have been driving sales.

McGeady said drinkers are shrugging off misconceptions around the category and are beginning to appreciate the varieties on offer.

There’s some great beers on offer and drinkers will taste the difference.

“More and more people are becoming educated on craft beer, I don’t think it’s seen as pretentious now as some people once thought it was,” he said.

“I also think a big part of the growth is down to cask conditioned real ales; they’ve become really popular with younger drinkers.”

According to McGeady, the category has been aided by the number of breweries securing listings with supermarkets, which has made them more accessible to a wider audience.

He added: “Even if people are just after a lager, there’s some great ones on offer and drinkers will taste the difference, it’s as simple as that.”

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the festival is becoming more established each year.
And it’s not just Scottish brewers who are taking notice.

“Brass Castle are a really special craft brewery and they are coming all the way from Yorkshire for this event so that’s something I’m really proud of,” said McGeady.

“The fact we’ve got a brewery willing to travel all this way on the recommendation of a distribution company – it shows that the West End Beer Festival is a good event given that these guys are willing to come up and be a part of it.”