Tom Flint: Putting beer festivals back into pubs and the community

Brighton Tap Takeover at the Dead Wax Social
Brighton Tap Takeover at the Dead Wax Social

Here in Brighton we know how to do a festival, it is something that the city revels in.

Whether it is the arts, comedy or food and drink the people of Brighton all appreciate a bit of a party.

Beer festivals are nothing new. Ale festivals have been around since the dark ages, and some feel that they’ve not changed much since then, and craft beer has been doing its own thing now for some time.

London has the hugely successful Craft Beer Rising event that attracts brewers and fans from all over the world, and Brighton has got Tap Takeover.

Last weekend was the second running of Tap Takeover, a collaboration between The Laine Brew Co and The Beer Collective. The idea is simple. Instead of cramming all the beer and people into a soulless hall, with strip lighting and terrible acoustics, they leave the beer where it should be, in a pub. With fourteen pubs across Brighton taking part, each dedicated to a different brewer, and festival wristbands pre-loaded with drinks and providing discounts, this is the Great Escape of beer.

I attended a preview event, hosted by Laine Brewing and the Beer Collective, and got a feel for this year’s event. We kicked off with some tastings at The North Laine pub and sampled some of the more interesting beers on offer. This included three sours, a traditional style of beer with an acidic or tart flavour, which are experiencing a boost in popularity in the craft beer movement. These included two of the International brewers, White Hag from Sligo in Ireland and Edge from Barcelona, showing the appeal of craft beer across the world.

Laine Brew Co had created a Brighton inspired “Dirty Weekend” beer for the festival made with Brighton rock, seaweed and sea salt which was a pleasant IPA packed with hops from all over the world. The two stars for me were the Garden Brewery citrus IPA, made in Croatia, and a chilli porter from cooperative brewery Boundary of Belfast. All the beers we tried showed off the variety and diversity of the beers and brewers that epitomise the craft beer movement.

Later we headed out to a few of the pubs, taking in some awesome beers from Sussex’s own Two Tribes, plus an amazing Nordic style ale from Wylam brewery. This was just a crafty sample of what was on offer and I could’ve happily returned over the remainder of the weekend for more.

Tap Takeover is a superb event and I really love that they have put beer festivals back into pubs and the community.

With so many different beers and brewers on offer I can only see this festival going from strength to strength over the coming years, pulling people from all over the country in the city. Get the dates in your diary for next year and get behind this awesome event that celebrates Brighton, beer and brewing.

The Tap Takeover