A couple of weekends ago, some of the best breweries from across London (and even further afield) assembled in Bethnal Green’s Oval Space for the second annual London Craft Beer Festival. Being fans of all things fermented and hop-based, we decided to go along to sample some of the ales, pale ales, porters, stouts, wheat beers, fruit beers and cuvées that were on offer.

We began with a visit to Beavertown Brewery’s stall. We’ve previously noticed their bold and colourful labels (specifically the space age, Dan Dare-esque design that’s featured on their Gamma Ray American Pale Ale bottles) brightening up bars across London, so it was great to finally try some of their brews. Their Lemon Phantom – a Berliner Weisse infused with lemon zest and juice – was just delicious. It was light, sour, almost sherbert-y, and entirely quaffable.

London Craft Beer Festival

Above: Inside Oval Space for the 2014 London Craft Beer Festival

Up next was Magic Rock Brewing, a Huddersfield-based outfit whose stall was decorated with a playful, monster-centric design courtesy of illustrator Richard Norgate. The beers on offer were equally quirky and inventive. We tried Slapstick, a wheat beer that had been brewed and aged in a Tequila barrel. It was an absolute revelation, especially when compared to those other, bottled Tequila-flavoured beers we’ve all tried in the past. The sharpness was subtle, not sickly sweet or sour; we liked it so much we went back for more later in the day.

West London’s Weird Beard Brew Co. were offering a light yet incredibly hoppy number called ‘Little Things That Kill’, arguably the best named beer of the festival. It was enjoyable too, as was their ‘Holy Hoppin’ Hell’ double IPA. Their stall had attracted quite a crowd due to their branded slot machine, which promised free beer tokens to anyone who was fortunate enough to match three symbols. We weren’t so lucky.

Weird Beard Brew Company's Slot Machine

Above: A look at Weird Beard Brew Co.’s one-armed bandit

Our first stout of the day came courtesy of the Bermondsey-based company Brew by Numbers (or BBNo.). Their 08|02 Imperial Stout was wonderfully rich and toasty, with notes of coffee. Keeping things dark, we paid a visit to Signature Brew’s stall to try their Black Tongue – a double black IPA produced in collaboration with metal behemoths Mastodon. It was an appropriately smoky, savoury and heavy brew.

Howling Hops brew a variety of flavoursome beers from their base of operations underneath The Cock Tavern on Hackney’s Mare Street. We tried their Rye Gose, a light and sour drop that was brewed with coriander and caraway. Keeping things local, we then checked out Cambridge Heath natives The Redchurch Brewery, who offer a wide range of handcrafted ales named after areas of East London. We tried their strong and full flavoured Great Eastern IPA.

Of course, we couldn’t help but take a look at what the brewery representatives were wearing on the day. We really liked The Redchurch Brewery’s primary coloured t-shirts, featuring their simple but effective logo. But our favourite was Camden Town Brewery’s ‘Hells Yeah!’ t-shirt, named after their signature Hells Lager. The Camden Town Brewery also deserve a special mention for the IHL they had on their taps, a hoppy and strong combination of a lager and an IPA.

Custom Printed T-Shirt

Above: The Camden Town Brewery’s ‘Hells Yeah’ t-shirt

We finished with a visit to American craft beer giant Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Having sunk many a bottle of their Pale Ale in the past, it was fantastic to sample something different from them – namely their incredibly refreshing Kellerweiss white beer.

Walking (at times not necessarily in a straight line) around the festival, it was clear how the craft beer movement makes the effort to appeal to more than just one of the senses. The beers were universally tasty, but seeing just how much time and attention each of the featured breweries had dedicated towards their branding was equally refreshing.

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