“People are often surprised when I tell them it takes a fortnight to set up BeerX,” says event manager Lucy Hunter-Bott, “and I’m not even including the previous 11 months of planning!”
From hauling over 500 kegs and casks off lorries, to organising keynote speakers and setting up the infrastructure for the UK’s biggest brewing industry trade exhibition, which will be attended by around 2,000 industry representatives, there’s more work going into the Society of Independent Brewers’ BeerX event than meets the eye.
The national beer industry calendar highlight returns to iceSheffield this week from March 16 to 19 with 60 bar staff, almost 400 different beers, 12,000 pints set to be pulled and up to 5,000 beer lovers expected through the doors.
“The main difference this year is that the trade exhibition and delegate programme will now take over the entirety of iceSheffield, while our new BeerAlive! festival will be held in a pop-up beer hall next door,” Lucy adds.
BeerAlive’s new floored, lit and heated beer hall will feature eight regional bars serving award-winning cask and craft keg beers from around the UK.
There’s strong emphasis on serving the perfect glass of beer. All the cask and craft keg beers will come from temperature-controlled mobile cellars and be served in a fresh glass. Beers being served include IPAs, pale ales, porters, stouts, bitters, lagers and specialities.
Plus, for the first time the event will have dedicated can and bottle bars serving over 200 different beers, giving festival-goers plenty of choice and the option to take beers home, while stocks last.
While the event’s focus is strongly on beer, tastebuds will also be tantalised by an array of global food, thanks to a variety of street food traders and specialist beer snack retailers. Think Argentinian-inspired choripán-style brisket sandwiches from Percy & Lily’s, hearty handmade pies from Pie Eyed and popular Canadian cheese curd, chips and gravy from Caribou Poutine.
Sheffield’s SmoFo Smoked Foods and Karkli will be among specialist beer snack retailers providing tasty morsels to pair with favourite brews, both named in the Financial Times’s top five snack start-ups.
There’s a packed programme of live music, with upbeat evening sets on the Friday and Saturday from soul and Motown band E-Maculate and their enigmatic frontman Vernon Lewis, while Skudoo play live on Saturday.
Sunday’s daytime chill-out session offers a family-friendly feel. There will be live music from five local acoustic acts curated by Sofar Sounds, plus additional brunch dishes from traders. Sheffield’s Roastology will also be perking things up serving freshly ground speciality coffees. On the Sunday only, under-18s are welcome with a responsible adult and under 14s get in free.
An extra popular touch is the BeerAlive vintage Routemaster bus, which runs on a loop encompassing The Howard’s bus layby, the Devonshire Cat, the Fat Cat and iceSheffield. It’s free to ride, but ‘fare’ donations for Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity are welcomed.
Nick Stafford, SIBA’s commercial director, said: “BeerX has become a unique opportunity to bring together the brewing world and the consumer.
“It’s been great to grow the event here in Sheffield over the last five years to become a comprehensive and unmissable occasion for the industry.”
* Tickets for BeerAlive are available on the door, priced £7 including a programme and souvenir glass. Visit Beer X for details.