City-wide beer celebrations just got easier to organise with the news of the formation of British Beer Cities. Made up of UK cities that host a Beer Week, the new alliance is dedicated to sharing best practice as well as representing this growing phenomenon on a wider stage.
While city-wide beer festivals are not new – Oktoberfest dates from 1810 – the last seven years have seen significant growth in the UK.
From Norwich kicking off matters in 2011 through Manchester and London to Brighton & Hove and Leicester making their debut in 2018, Beer Week initiatives add significantly to both footfall and revenue in venues. Research suggests that York City of Ale contributed over £400k to local coffers.
And demand is not just from the locals. The pub experience features in the top three of overseas visitors’ wish lists, while craft beer ranks among the top four of local food and drink interests, alongside seafood, curry and cheese.
Some 90% of pubs involved in beer weeks saw an uplift in pub turnover, while 70% of visitors said they would return.
Initial plans for the Beer Cities include an annual forum in one of the member cities, a website to host a bank of practical resources, plus a host of ‘How to…’ workshops, covering topics such as how best to set up a Beer City.
The first British Beer Cities Forum, held in Norwich in early October, included analysis and insight from the likes of award-winning author and consultant Pete Brown and beer doyen Roger Protz.
How to secure funding, organisational challenges and successful event models were all discussed, with gastronomy and heritage earmarked as popular themes with visitors.
Dawn Leeder, Forum organiser and co-founder of Norwich City of Ale, revealed how self-guided Ale Trails in 2018 equated to over 10,000 pub visits.
‘It is all about collaboration. We are not rivals, we are allies,’ said Hop Hideout’s Jules Gray, founder of Sheffield Beer Week.
‘By working together we are much stronger than working in isolation.’ added Leeder.
Beer Weeks in the planning include St Albans and Lancaster, while Derby and Newcastle were among those identified by Protz as highly suitable future candidates.