On Friday 12th July we officially opened the doors on a brand new BREW CON homebrewing Expo & Conference, at Northern Monk Brewery in Leeds.
Here are our thoughts but we’d love to hear yours, please comment below or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
After two successful London events in the past two years one of the most recurring comments from the UK homebrewing community was that London was too far to travel for a one-day event. Our main goal with BREW CON is to promote home brewing as a pastime, connect existing homebrewers and showcase innovations & products available to the UK market. If we were to accomplish these targets on a national scale, we felt we needed to find a venue up North. Furthermore, to encourage visitors from neighbouring cities, we needed to find an affordable space we could hire for two days at least, to enable us to schedule double the content. Luckily we already had the perfect venue in mind. In my employment as an events manager within the beer industry I’ve worked closely to Northern Monk and I knew from the outset that they are a really great, passionate team. On attending ‘Dark City’ in 2018 I got a real feeling for The Old Flax Store (home to the original brewery and The Refectory Taproom) and loved the connection to the beer industry that came with the space.
So those were the reasons behind the launch of BREW CON Leeds ’19, but how did the event go I hear you ask?! I’d believe that for a first outing we did pretty well. After a slow, and pretty wet start on Friday (note for next year, hold a Saturday/Sunday event) we got off to a great start on Saturday from the moment the doors opened. The venue was split into three parts, the BREWtalk theatre located in a marquee in the garden, The Refectory bar, which was open to the public and the Chapter Hall which housed all our exhibitors.
The BREWtalks were curated to cover all aspects of brewing, from technical knowledge to beer judging and more. The Friday talks were still well attended and included some extremely useful insights on mash efficiency, kit building & yeast maintenance. Saturdays talks were much busier, although it wasn’t until Brian Dickson, Head Brewer of Northern Monk, delivered his keynote talk that we needed to open the extra space the marquee provided. One improvement we will look to implement is to pair up our talks with beer tastings where possible. Working for the UK’s largest independent beer distributor helped out a lot in this department in London last year and we will definitely be looking to bring this feature back to BREW CON London ’19.
A huge thanks to all our speakers throughout the event, Crisp Malt for sponsoring the theatre and also to Sarah Pantry, who once more gave us a huge help both with audio & film equipment in the BREWtalk theatre. Sarah, alongside Jon Moore (Beer Boars East, newly elected Club President) also stepped in to help host the talks for us and truly represents the positive, collaborative, community spirit that we are seeing emerge within the UK home brewing community.
Brian Dickson, Head Brewer of Northern Monk Brewery, Keynote Talk 'Ain't Brewing Brilliant"
The BREWexpo, held in the beautiful Chapter Hall, featured some of our long time supporters alongside a handful of first time exhibitors. It’s great to see established companies such as Get ‘Er Brewed, Angel Homebrew & Love Brewing come into the BREW CON fold and bring such a great variety of equipment, ingredients, kits and, of course, knowledge and passion to the event. Every single stand at the event was really well thought out, with diverse products, plenty of free samples (cheers Rakey / Malt Miller) and a tonne of giveaways. I’d love to see attendees share pictures of their hauls online, the generosity of our exhibitors easily covered the price of the event ticket!
Huge thanks to returning exhibitors Hopcat & Grainfather, with their beautiful all-in-one brewing systems. There was a solid debate late on into the night on Friday about the different options currently available to novice homebrewers and its fascinating to see how many are turning to these all-in-one systems, which provides a useful, and very promising, insight into how much money newcomers to this amazing hobby of ours are willing to spend to create and perfect their own beers! At the same time the innovations we are seeing from ingredient suppliers, such as Muntons, Lallemands & Simply Hops, are providing a range of possibilities for all established homebrewers out there, from kit brewers to all grain, stove top brewers & 50l three-tier system brewers.
Announcing The Community Brew winners - Sheffield HBC & Thornbridge Brewery
I’m going to post a separate detailed blog about The Community Brew club competition we held in occasion of the event but I would like to mention how amazing the response was from home brew clubs across the UK! We had 28 clubs enter, the quality of the beer across the board was high and the eventual winning beer, an 8% Export Porter from Sheffield Homebrew Club & Thornbridge Brewery was truly phenomenal.
Seeing the clubs turn out for the event itself was equally rewarding. There was a strong presence of homebrew clubs from Leeds, York, Worcestershire, Sheffield and even some that made the trip from London (cheers Junction Brew Club & of course our own Beer Boars!).
In conclusion the event was a decent first attempt for a first year, but will require some fine tuning to ensure a higher attendance next year. The marquee could comfortably fit over 100 people and we have the option of taking over the entire venue next year but would require additional sponsors & exhibitors so if any of you guys out there can think of people you believe should be in attendance please do let us (and them!) know. Once more a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came along and we hope to see you at BREW CON London ’19 which promises to be our biggest, boldest and best BREW CON yet!
The Brew Con Team