Last Saturday, ten breweries assembled in The Bootyard for the second Dalston Beer Day. The event was a resounding success, with occupancy reaching capacity only a few hours in. The weather held up and sustenance was flying out of the Honest Burgers food truck, keeping revelers contented enough to linger until late. Drinkers worked their way through a varied selection of beer against the backdrop of an East London hideaway, tucked away from Kingsland Road.
The Bootyard space offered a comfortable setting for this relaxed and informal beer festival. The brewery list had changed from last year, seeing some relatively fresh additions to the London scene, including Affinity Brew Co and Pillars Brewery. Beavertown Brewery was present for the second year running and had rotating specials on, such as Lime Phantom – which had disappeared by mid-afternoon – and some examples of their small-batch brewers’ series, Beavertown Says. Psychotropic, a New England style table beer with a breezy ABV and hazy appearance, was a sublime way to kick off the festivities.
Pillars Brewery is a recent addition to London’s craft scene with an exclusive focus on lager. Their flagship beer is the Untraditional Lager, a commendable effort at a notoriously difficult style. Pouring golden with a foamy head, its subtle aromas of zesty citrus and hay was immediately promising. It's very easy drinking, with clean, biscuit malt flavour accompanied by lemon and grapefruit. With a 4.5% ABV, this will appease any lager fan, embodying the characteristics of the style and it was served up exceptionally fresh.
Dalston Beer Day also presented a second chance for me to sample Affinity Brew Co, that Tottenham brewery that impressed at the London Brewers’ Market earlier this month. Founders Ben and Steve were again on hand, enthusiastically serving up drinkers. They launched a hibiscus sour, which was a stunning beer that rightfully proved popular. It was a radiant pink colour, drinking like an effervescent rosé with balanced hints of hibiscus. Tart, dry and flavoursome, this slipped down effortlessly and was the standout beer of the afternoon.
The Kernel Brewery was also present, understated as always, but they were pouring a juicy Pale Ale hopped with Mosiac and Victoria Secret. As expected from the brewery, it was another silently exceptional beer that was crisp and delicious, satisfying the need for an outstanding pale in the sun. Kent’s Pig & Porter also carried remarkable rye ale, Arachnophilia, which was a wonderful harmony of spiciness from the rye and bursting citrus from the hops. Intensely drinkable, it was a gentle yet moreish beer.
The crowd was a good mix of genders and ages, both local residents and beer aficionados unified in one space. The team behind the event, 40ft Brewery, make a concerted effort to include the surrounding community and it seems to be paying off: guests were wandering in without any pretense or knowledge of the beers on tap or the breweries present, just to grab a drink. The casual nature of the event meant that it was accessible, and while there is still work to be done to attract a more diverse crowd, it encapsulated what the craft beer scene in London should always aspire to: being inclusive, friendly and - most importantly - fun.
And there's good news if you missed April's event, as a June edition of Dalston Beer Day has just been announced. Watch the 40ft Brewery Facebook page for more details.