4th Kidbrooke Beer Festival: In Review

SE London CAMRA has just wrapped up their 4th Kidbrooke Beer Festival, their most successful yet. They set new records for attendance and beer sales and now look forward to even bigger and better things in 2018. Mr Fueled by Beer rode the rails from Reading over to Kidbrooke to attend the Friday session and was impressed by the friendliness of the event, its smooth running, and the quality of the beer on offer…

As I suggested in my preview post, the organisers put a lot of thought into quality over quantity and this was certainly my experience on the day. Judging by the people I met on Friday, a significant percentage of visitors came from outside the branch area. For example, besides me from Berkshire, I chatted with folks from West Sussex, Essex and Bedfordshire. I think it is entirely reasonable for SE London CAMRA to expect much positive feedback to be conveyed back to branches over a wide geographic area, translating into even higher out of area attendance next year.

For people who attend distant festivals in unfamiliar places, little details make all the difference. Kidbrooke demonstrated this admirably. Excellent signage was provided to direct people arriving at Kidbrooke station along a very pleasant network of traffic-free footpaths and through leafy suburban residential neighborhoods to the venue at Charlton Park Rugby Club. Without the signs it could have been tricky even with a smartphone and GPS.

For me, however, the most significant thing was confirmation that when it comes to opportunities for brewery trails in London, Bermondsey and Hackney no longer have it all to themselves. The Kidbrooke festival opened my eyes to the growing brewery scene in SE London. In the area roughly bounded by Camberwell, Brixton, Peckham and Herne Hill, at least eight breweries now open Saturday taprooms. Needless to say, Mr Fueled by Beer is actively investigating the logistical possibilities this presents for a future Berkshire CAMRA brewery crawl.

Part of my rediscovery involved Bullfinch beers, my first opportunity since Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer discovered them sharing space with Anspach and Hobday during their startup phase. Based on subsequent visits to the Bermondsey Beer Mile, we knew the Bullfinch had ceased to be a cuckoo and flown south to establish his own nest in Herne Hill but we had not come across his beer since. So my first tipple on arrival was Bullfinch’s Born to Be Mild, a delicious 3.3% ABV mild to get things started. Here’s what I ended up sampling, all SE London CAMRA LocAles:

  • Bullfinch, Herne Hill: Born to be Mild (3.3%)
  • Bullfinch, Herne Hill: Swift Pale Ale (4.0%)
  • Brew Buddies, Swanley: Mosaic Citra Pale (5.5%)
  • Three Sods, Bethnal Green: Mon Cheri IPA (4.5%)
  • Three Sods, Bethnal Green: Trade Union Pale Ale (4.5%)
  • Hop Stuff, Woolwich: American Pale Ale (3.9%)
  • Clarkshaws, Brixton: Darker Hell Lager (4.5%)
  • Southwark, Bermondsey: Courage SE1 Smoked Porter (4.5%)
  • Kent, Birling: Old Jamaica Stout (5.1%)
  • Canopy, Herne Hill: Sunray Pale Ale (4.2%)

Of course, Mr Fueled by Beer is concerned to preserve whatever remains of his liver so sadly this selection necessarily only scratches the surface of the total beers at the festival: there were 52 of which 23 were LocAles (including two added on the final day), an impressive offering. Here’s some photos of the walk to the venue and the festival itself:


And, for future reference, that well-signposted walking route:

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