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The Great British Beer Festival
Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) is sometimes accused of fuddy-duddy tendencies, but its flagship festival, first held in 1977, has done a decent job of moving with the times. Alongside a huge selection of cask ales (look out for Redemption, Gadds’ and Fyne), there will be beer from around the world. The Italian offerings are worth a look: try Birrificio Italiano Tipopils, a flinty, bitter, nigh-on perfect Pilsner.
August 13-17, Olympia, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX, 0844 412 4640; www.gbbf.org.uk
The London Craft Beer Festival
In the same week as GBBF, this new festival brings a different philosophy. A select group of brewers (including Londoners The Kernel, Partizan and Camden Town) have been invited, as well as big names from further afield such as Mikkeller and Magic Rock. You can also expect street food and moody East End sounds.
August 16-18, Oval Space, 29-32 The Oval, London E2 9DT, 020 7183 4422; www.londoncraftbeerfestival.co.uk
Sun in the Glass Festival
The Czech Republic is known for its magnificent pale lagers but there’s increasing variety there too, as visitors to the Slunce Ve Skle (Sun in the Glass) Festival will know. This is a lively, relaxed event with beers not just from the Czech Republic but Germany, Britain and further afield as well. Beers from Kocour and Uneticky, two stars of the Czech new wave, come highly recommended.
September 21, Hotel Purkmistr, Selská náves 21/2, 326 00 Pilsen, Czech Republic, 00420 377 994 311; www.slunceveskle.cz
Borefts Beer Festival
Few festivals get aficionados as excited as Borefts, and with good reason. Those breweries lucky enough to be invited are expected to push the envelope, so you’ll find all sorts of interesting and unusual offerings. Try something from the hosts De Molen, who are known for their rich, often inordinately strong, stouts and porters.
September 27-28, Brouwerij de Molen, Doortocht 4 and Overtocht 43, Bodegraven, Netherlands, 0031 172 610 848; www.brouwerijdemolen.nl
Indy Man Beer Con
Held at the magnificent Victoria Baths, the Independent Manchester Beer Convention seems to have rewritten the rules on what a British beer festival looks like: it’s both more relaxed (unlike at Camra festivals, keg beer is welcome) and more serious about what’s in the glass. Look out for Marble, Redwillow and Hawkshead breweries.
October 10-13, Victoria Baths, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester M13 0FE; 07967 257504; www.indymanbeercon.co.uk
Will Hawkes is author of ‘Craft Beer London’ (Vespertine Press), £10