How we use Cookies

Dine out on a beer revolution

Birmingham is set to host its first craft beer festival next weekend. Mary Griffin discovers how beer has become part of fine dining.

Dan Brown and David Shipman, organisers of the Birmingham Beer Bash
Dan Brown and David Shipman, organisers of the Birmingham Beer Bash

A Beer revolution is underway.

And next weekend it arrives in Birmingham when a new breed of brewer will be celebrated at the city’s first craft beer festival.

Birmingham Beer Bash, coming to Digbeth’s canalside venue The Bond, will serve 100 cask and keg beers across three bars, with tutored tastings, street food stalls and two five-course fine dining sessions, pairing a different craft beer with each dish.

The event is the brainchild of Dan Brown and David Shipman, two Midlands beer bloggers who, along with others, decided there was an eager market for craft beer in Birmingham but nothing to fill the void.

Finding a network of like-minded drinkers over Twitter, they met up in “the real world” and started plotting the event.

Dan says: “This festival is essentially being put together by bloggers.

“We’re not professional beer event organisers but we got together because we’re enthusiastic and we love it.

“This type of event just hasn’t been available in Birmingham at all.”

The UK’s craft beer movement is on the up with new microbrewers emerging across the country.

Birmingham’s craft beer scene has enjoyed a boom in recent years with the opening of Brewdog, a bar run by the Scottish craft brewer of the same name in John Bright Street, and New Street’s Post Office Vaults, specialising in foreign bottled beers.

Craft beer, brewed by the rule-breakers of the British brewing industry, is positioning itself as the hip younger sister of real ale.

Breaking free of the rules that govern the city’s annual autumn CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) festival, the Beer Bash is focusing on weird and wonderful experimental brews from independent breweries around the country and the world.

While CAMRA sticks to “real ale”, defined as live, cask-conditioned or bottle-conditioned British beer, craft beer tends to be fizzier and served colder from kegs, rather than casks, like big brand lagers.

But unlike big brand lagers, craft brewers say the term is used for any innovative beer created for taste rather than volume.

While there appears to be a growing rift between new-age craft beer fans and traditional real ale drinkers, Beer Bash organisers insist they want to complement the CAMRA festival in October.

Dan says: “CAMRA is a long-standing organisation protecting and promoting real ales.

“They are strict about the kind of beers they serve and if they don’t fit the guidelines and criteria they don’t get served.

He adds: “Craft beer tends to have a slightly different, younger, more varied and more ethnically diverse audience. Craft beer is about experimentation.”

So at The Bond, drinkers will find seriously strong stouts, black IPAs, collaborative brews from breweries working together and loads of great big hoppy flavours.

And with sponsorship from Midlands-based Purity Brewery the experimentation continues with a five-course fine dining menu on each night, served up to complement a range of beers.

On Friday night, Brad Carter, owner and chef at Carters of Moseley, will be delivering: bone marrow toast with crispy pigs head Midlands rarebit, served with Veltins Pilsner; black treacle salmon, pickled cucumber and toasted rye thins, served with Purity’s Pure Gold; beef cheek with cauliflower, cabbage and pickled hops, served with Pure UBU; sticky toffee pudding with roast banana ice cream, served with Maisels Weisse; and vintage red Leicester with Mad Goose rolls and beer pickled onions, served with Sierra Nevada Stout.

On Saturday, Luke Tipping, executive chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Simpsons, will be pairing the same beers to five different courses, producing: crudités, avocado and crispy quinoa flower pots, served with Veltins Pilsner; sea bream and salmon tartar with viola flowers, pickled white radish, sesame seeds and wasabi, paired with Purity Brewery’s Pure Gold; ox cheek with salt baked celeriac and pickled walnuts, served with Pure UBU; peanut butter parfait with caramelised banana and caramel sauce, served with Maisels Weisse; and Black Bomber cheddar and pickled onions, served with Sierra Nevada Stout.

Dan says: “The point is it’s not about going along and getting bladdered. It’s about appreciating the richness of these beers.

“We wanted to add layers of experiences to the event so that it’s a chance to learn, enjoy and come away enriched.”

Journalists

Graeme Brown
Editor (Agenda and Business)
Enda Mullen
Business Reporter
Tamlyn Jones
Business Reporter
Neil Elkes
Local Government Correspondent
Emma McKinney
Education Correspondent
Ben Hurst
News Editor
Jonathan Walker
Political Editor