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28 November 2012

East London beers and breweries to be hailed at Pig's Ear festival

BEFORE the Enlightenment, real ale was considered the preserve of cardie-wearing, pipe-smoking, beard-sporting, middle-aged men with a predilection for Dungeons and Dragons and JRR Tolkein. Not anymore.

The tastebuds of Britain are alert to the fact that the majority of beers and ales available now knock that bland foreign fizz into a cocked hat, and the movers and shakers are switching their ale-egiance in droves. It’s cheaper than lager, it’s tastier than lager, and (whisper this gently), it’s cooler than lager.

Porters, stouts, IPAs, milds, brown ales, bitters, barley wines; the variety on offer has always been extensive. What’s changed is the pursuit of brewing excellence, and the emergence of local micro-breweries.

To celebrate the amazing array of ales available, the East London and City branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), will be staging the annual Pig’s Ear Festival (4-8 December) in the Round Chapel, Clapton.

This historic, Grade II-listed building provides the perfect setting for the event: small enough to lend intimacy to the occasion, but big enough to cater for the bewildering variety of ales on offer.

This year’s festival is perhaps the most significant in the event’s history. For the first time ever, Hackney has enough breweries to justify a separate Hackney Bar at the festival.

Organiser Derek Jones says: “Twelve months ago Hackney didn't have a single brewery and now it has five. They are Beavertown in Haggerston; Crate in Hackney Wick; Howling Hops on Mare Street; Hackney off Kingsland Road; and London Fields.

"All produce distinctive, flavourful real ales in classic styles that are applauded by their growing numbers of customers. We'll also be offering real ales from many other of London’s now 30-plus breweries.”
In addition to the cask English ales, there will be an exceptional selection of bottled and foreign beers and the noted Cider and Perry Bar featuring artisan producers, plus food stalls and pub games.

Pig's Ear's opening hours are Tues-Thurs and Sat, 12noon-11pm; and Fri: 12noon-11.30pm. For further information, call: 020 8806 6517; or visit the Pig's Ear website.

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