London Beer Festivals In August 2019

By Dom Bewley

August 1st was International Beer Day. An event revered by beer enthusiasts across the globe. A day when we can all come together, set aside our differences, and exist in perfect beer-harmony. But now the celebrations have come to an end, and we're sure many of you are sitting there, deflated. Staring into space, waiting for the 1st August 2020. But don’t worry, it’ll be ale right. Get some colour in those pale ale cheeks. The celebrations aren’t over! Here are the best London beer festivals in August 2019.

Great British Beer Festival 6 – 10th August @ Olympia London

Now in its eighth year, the Great British Beer Festival is back again with over 1000 British and international beers. If you’re reading this 'best London beer festivals in August 2019' blog, and for some reason you’re not keen on beer, they also have a massive selection of ciders, wines, and a brand new gin bar being introduced this year. To help soak up all the hoppy goodness, you’ve got a huge number of food choices to tickle even the foodie-est fancy, including veggie and vegan options, and even gluten-free offerings if the dreaded ‘g’ word terrifies you. Along with all the imbibing above, there are pub games you and your friends can embarrass yourselves with, and you can even get your favourite beer books signed by some of the best beer book authors around. Yep, beer book authors will actually be signing their beer books. Best get down there before their pens run out. Come for the: beer book signings Stay for the: 1000 beers because it’s a beer festival

London Craft Beer Festival 9 - 11 August @ Tobacco Dock

Not to be confused with the Great British Beer Festival, the London Craft Beer Festival is a beer festival that happens to be taking place around the same time as the Great British Beer Festival. But if you like your beer with a more outdoor-y festival vibe, including DJ sets from the likes of Friendly Fires, Kaiser Chiefs and Hot Chip, as well as acoustic offerings throughout the day, do yourself a favour and head down to Tobacco Dock. If their website’s promotional video is anything to go by, expect plenty of boiled eggs, beautiful people laughing, and beer by the river as the sun goes down. Come for the: vibes Stay for the: boiled eggs

London Craft Beer Cruise 10 August (departing from) Festival Pier

If you’re an absolute legend who insists on living dangerously, how about taking your beer across the seven seas? Well, the Thames, but that’s adventurous enough for you, you liar. The London Craft Beer Cruise promises the best craft beer around, along with a voyage through the heart of Central London. If the weather keeps up (thank you, British Summertime, you unpredictable beast), there won’t be many better ways to celebrate International Beer Day – if a little belatedly. And if you can’t make August’s cruise, their final voyage is on 7th September. So there’s no excuse, you absolute legend who insists on living dangerously. Come for the: beer on a boat Stay for the: end of the boat ride

strEATlife 17th August @ Alexandra Palace

You can see what they did there with the name. It’s very clever because it’s a street food festival where you eat. And that wasn’t their only clever idea either. They also married up the street food with a load of craft beer too. Relax in the glorious sunshine at Ally Pally, work on your tan, and indulge in all manner of street food and beers. With “epic DJ sets” promised, and a 12pm til late runtime, you won’t want to miss out on strEATlife. Come for the: sweet wordplay Stay for the: street food and craft beer

Craft Beer & Cheese Festival 24 – 25 August @ Spit and Sawdust

If you think the two best things ever are beer and cheese, well then holy smokes, this is the literally the perfect festival designed entirely for you. Courtesy of the Spit and Sawdust, which we’ll presume is much nicer than it sounds, you can spend much of your bank holiday weekend eating cheese, drinking craft beer, and listening to live music that may or may not be cheesy (pun fully intended due to its brilliance). Come for the: beer and cheese Stay for the: beer and cheese And that’s our list of the best London beer festivals in August. If we missed any, feel free to embarrass us with your beery knowledge in the comments below. If you're thirst for good things to do this summer hasn't been slaked, you might want to check this out.

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Your London Cafe Guide

Whether you need a cup to warm them chilled bones, or a pick-me-up on the way to work after a...challenging...weekend, we all have our reasons for jumping on the caffeine train. Without coffee, the amount of duvet days would probably triple. Coffee and London go together like cheese and pickle, because the weekends can be especially challenging here. But you're bored of your usual spot, or sick of getting half-baked coffee from the high street brands. We get it. You want something new, something fresh. Something surprising. Well guess what? Read our London cafe guide to discover the coffee houses in the city. You may not have even heard of them. Old Spike Roastery Peckham Rye [caption id="attachment_3470" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Courtesy of Old Spike Roastery[/caption] This special little place south of The River has tonnes going for it. Not only do they do great coffee that you can buy and take home with you. In some suave branded packaging, no less. They also use their coffee as a vehicle for change, by training and employing homeless people across the business. We're sure you're "woke" enough to know that there is a serious homelessness crisis in this country, which is painfully obvious in London. That's why Old Spike Roastery is so fantastic and unique. In fact, every cup you buy, and every bag you take home, is helping end homelessness in the UK. A coffee that warms you up physically and spiritually? Sign us up. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Leather Lane, Holborn There might be a few of these around town, but have you heard of them? No. So pipe down...with some piping hot coffee from this uniquely-named coffee house! Ah, words. Aren't they just great? You know what else is great? The coffee here at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. They have their own roastery in Brighton, so you know their brew is going to be banging. No blends round here. If you're a connoisseur of caffeine like we are, then you know what that means. It means it's good. Alongside their banging brews, they offer an assortment of cakes and sandwiches too. But what's most interesting about this gem is their social outreach programmes. This includes volunteering opportunities and the creation of humanitarian programmes, among others. Talk about guilt-free coffee. Prufrock Coffee Leather Lane, Holborn Yeah, so another in Leather Lane. Hopefully, you're not already familiar with this area. If you are, we can only imagine how far you're turning your nose up right now. Stop that. Let others enjoy the fruits of your exploration. For the uninitiated, Prufrock operates much like a craft beer spot. They serve a variety of guest roasters from across Europe, along with their go-to, Square Mile Coffee. This is a coffee shop for the true coffee connoisseur. Not only do they choose the finest bean to go in your brew, they also run classes to train budding brewers on how to make a fantastic cup of coffee. Their courses run from beginner to advanced. So if you're just starting your joe journey, or you're a true bean behemoth (sorry), you'll find something to up your game. Ziferblat Old Street Perhaps the most unusual coffee house in London. It looks suspiciously like a shop from the outside. It styles itself as a collaborative creative space on the inside. And it all runs on the clock. By that we mean, you pay per minute once you walk in the door. A Russian cafe chain - and trend - brought over to the West, this means that while everything is complimentary, be it coffee, food, and even the wifi, you effectively 'clock in' when you enter, and pay up when you leave. You could look at it as a social experiment of sorts. They way Ziferblat sees it, you become, in essence, a tenant of the space you take up. And really, everything and anything is game. That includes board games, musical instruments, collaborative art or performance pieces. It's up to you to make it what you want. If it catches on over here, spots like Ziferblat could well explode across East London. Their coffee is banging, too. They wouldn't be on this list if it wasn't, would it? The Sanctuary Cafe Sherriff Road,West Hampstead [caption id="attachment_3472" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Courtesy of The Sanctuary Cafe[/caption] How about you take your cup of joe with a little taste of non-profit justice? Within the confines of The Sherriff Centre, formerly a lovely church, you'll find the Hullabaloo debt advice agency, and sanctuary. The Sanctuary Cafe, to be exact. They've got some of the best coffee in North London, combined with a delightful selection of bites big and small. And they tick all the V boxes too, so veggies, vegans, and gluten-vreers (a stretch but we're going with it) are free to roam and graze as nature intended. They even have a selection of alcoholic beverages, if you want to 'upgrade' your mug. Probably not a great idea, but feel free to grab a beer or wine if you want. Punters get free wi-fi, and children are welcome. If you dare bring your little ones to a cafe. You monster. And hey, if debt is getting you down, you can two-for-one it thanks to the aforementioned advice. What more could you want from your secret coffee location? No more. Them's the best coffee houses in London. Oh, you have heard of some of these before? Well good for you, winner. Go give yourselves a pat on the back. Why don't you tell us where you'd recommend, then? Just down there. In the comments. Or why not work off some of that caffeine-related adrenaline with an exhilarating bike tour?
Dom Bewley

Things to do in London during COVID

There’s an autumnal crispness in the air but you’re probably not quite ready to bundle up and see out the cooler months from indoors just yet. So we’ve come up with a list of top activities to do in London during COVID - a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities that are fun and exciting while being safe and smart. Take to the Water Coursing through the centre of the city is its lifeblood, the Thames. How about hopping aboard a boat and seeing the glorious city from the water? With a Thames River Boat Cruise you can take it all the top sights, including the House of Parliament and Big Ben, The London Eye, The Shard and the Tower of London with the magnificent Tower Bridge, among many many others. Remember to pack your camera for this whistle-stop tour of the city’s world-famous centre! Nosey Round a Royal Residence Opening up their doors and welcoming us common folk, the royal residences both past and current are resplendent with treasures to explore. Take a wander around Windsor Castle, the Queen’s primary residence, and discover the history and architecture of the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, and you might even catch a presentation of the Changing of the Guard. Happen upon Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s flamboyant stomping ground, and you’ll be met by gilded interiors and gorgeous gardens right by the riverside. Or, explore the enchanting Kensington Palace, now the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the former home of Lady Diana, and the palace's world-famous orangery. Get Active! There’s no time like the present to be out enjoying the fresh air after spending most of the year cooped up indoors. Explore the capital on two wheels with a London Bike Tour and choose from a traditional or mountain bike and see the city with an expert guide stopping at intervals to reveal the history of your surroundings and London landmarks. What’s more, London is dotted with great green pastures, such as Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Hampstead Heath, to name a few. Take a breather from the frenetic streets and drink in the beauty of these lush parklands. You can find nestled among the trees and fields, landscaped gardens, historic structures and statues, artwork, swimming ponds, and gorgeous cafés for a caffeinated pitstop. Or, if you’re a fitness freak and can’t bear to do away with your gym gear, not even for a day, then don’t sweat it! Take a look at Our Parks outdoor fitness booker to see what classes and training events you can get involved in. Sports Venue Tours COVID has been unkind to the world of sport, but you can still support your favourite teams by taking a look inside their hallowed grounds. Footie nuts will absolutely love the Emirates Stadium Tour to get a peek behind the scenes of Arsenal Football Club and experience the players’ entrance, directors box, diamond club area, home changing room, players Tunnel and pitchside, and more. Unless Chelsea is your team, then stop by Stamford Bridge to get a taste of the inner workings of Chelsea FC. You can visit the Press Room, see the team’s shirts in the changing room and visit the fascinating Chelsea FC Museum exhibitions. Be a Culture Vulture London’s museums are among the finest in the world and are putting in the work to make sure that your safety is a priority while visiting. At the National Gallery, explore some misdemeanors at the exhibition of Sin that blurs the boundaries between religious and secular art. Internationally renowned Ai Weiwei has installed in the Imperial War Museum a fascinating exhibition documenting refugee crises. Weiwei’s History of Bombs is a commentary on politics, power, and conflict between society and state. Look up in awe as the IWM’s glorious atrium is given in its entirety to an artist for the first time in the history of the building. Elsewhere in this cultural capital, you should definitely take a look inside the Design Museum where the exhibition Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers presents the impact that electronic dance music has had on the world. The clubs might not be open any time, but you can still throw some shapes among the strobes inside this museum.
Samuel Ford

Immersive Dining Experiences in London: Sept 2019

No, not sitting in a tub of baked beans. We’re talking about the kind of immersion you get when the whole of the restaurant suits your food. When you’re sucked into a storyline as you dine. Where the decor is immaculately curated and the plates fit a theme. Maybe a play goes on around you as you eat. Immersive dining experiences in London are going from strength to strength. They’re becoming more professional, more delicious and more immersive. Here are some to check out this month... Coming up: The Jewel of The Empire Gastronomic Back to the Future Dining Experience The Big London Bake Gingerline Presents...Chambers The Jewel of the Empire Created by Funicular Productions, who came up with the hugely successful and well-reviewed Murder Express, The Jewel of the Empire is wonderfully silly. You board a pretend train at the fictional Pedley Street Station and a murder mystery play unfurls around you as you dine and sip cocktails. The 1930s decor and costumes are thoughtfully designed, while the staging and direction cleverly ensure that no part of the performance is obscured. Well, apart from the central mysteries at the heart of this ode to classic detective stories. The four course dining menu comes courtesy of 2018 MasterChef: The Professionals winner Laurence Henry. The vibrantly coloured dishes provide an entertaining accompaniment to the evening’s main entertainment. As each course is brought out, the feeling that you’re sitting in the buffet carriage of a period train is enhanced. The food deepens rather than breaks the spell of the evening, which isn’t always the case with immersive dining experiences in London. Veggie and vegan options are available. The Jewel of the Empire has been enthralling audiences all summer long. It’s got to come to an end on September 22nd so the team can put on a whole new train-based show, so book tickets as soon as you can. [caption id="attachment_3478" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] Gastronomic From trains to planes, Gastronomic’s imaginative and theatrical take on plane food is something we’re really looking forward to experiencing this September. Guests board an Airbus A380, taking off from Shoreditch Town Hall. As you take to the skies, dishes are made in front of you as a plot develops in the plane kitchen. With a mixing of ingredients, cultures and culinary backgrounds in the action on stage, and on the plate in front of you, the piece explores identity, migration and the importance of breaking bread with one another. The use of Augmented Reality is an envelope-pushing addition to the immersive dining experience, and helps you dig deeper into the story and dishes being served up. The five-course tasting menu has been devised by chefs from some of the UK’s leading restaurants: Richard Bainbridge from Benedicts, Shunsuke Tomii from Shiki and Dalsukh Jetani of Namaste Village. Adding a local, progressive flavour, trainee chefs from East London charity Shoreditch Trust’s Blue Marble Training Project assist the three main professional chefs. The piece runs at Shoreditch Town Hall from 23rd September to 12th October 2019. The menu is pescatarian. Contact their marketing team before booking to speak about any dietary requirements. [caption id="attachment_3476" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] Back to the Future Dining Experience Animals for food? Where we’re going, we don’t need animals for food. This new Back to the Future Dining Experience takes off on 27th September. Created by the team before vegetarian and vegan restaurant Vanilla Black and theatrical supper club For Starters, the events takes you on a nostalgic culinary tour through the 70s, 80s and 90s. The narrative-led evening sees you and the team traveling back in time to pick up classic vegetarian and vegan dishes. You bring them back to the present day, where the chefs turn them into 21st century veggie and vegan masterpieces. It’s a multi-sensory journey and you're encouraged to dress the part in outfits from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The evening kicks off at 7pm at the The Owl & Hitchhiker (which fittingly kind of sounds like kids storybook renderings of the two main characters from Back to the Future) in Holloway. The Big London Bake When it comes to immersive dining experiences in London, The Big London Bake is up there with the most involving. There’s no storyline, but there’s nothing passive about this experience. In a marquee that’s reminiscent of - but in no way affiliated with - the setting for a popular televised baking program, you’ve got 90 minutes to bake your way to the top of the class. You pair up (with a friend or a stranger baker) to compete against nine other pairs, all attempting to create that month’s chosen bake. This month it’s a Creme Choux Crisp. There’s a professional baker on hand to help you too. You don’t need to bring any ingredients or do the boring prep’s all done for you in advance. At the end of 90 minutes, take your bake up to the front for judgement. Who’ll be the top baker? Maybe you. But who’ll be going home this week? Everyone. [caption id="attachment_3477" align="alignnone" width="961"][/caption] Gingerline Presents...Chambers Billed as a ‘Multi-Dimensional Dining Adventure’ this new theatrical food experience from Gingerline promises to be extremely oddball, confusing, well-executed, mysterious, OTT, delicious and satisfying. Gingerline are pioneers of immersive dining experiences in London. And they’ve built a reputation for putting on some of the most professional, absorbing and nutty dinnerdramaramas in town. And even they admit this one is a little strange. Look, details are sketchy. Enticingly so for the uninitiated. But there’ll be five courses of bold, out there food...and maybe as many dimensions. Characters will come from nowhere to surprise and entertain you...some will be up to no good, some will be outright sinister. Get on their site ASAP for tickets for their September dates. There are some in October too. Once you book you’ll get details of the secret Hoxton venue where your mind will get blown. Looking for a drinking experience to get you in the mood for dinner? Regard!
Matthew Pearson

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