Crafty Stuff: ABV Fest brings quality brews to Belfast
MICHAEL Kerr's Belgian epiphany sowed the seeds of a love affair with quality beer over a decade ago and his desire to share this passion is one of the driving forces behind ABV Fest.
Michael, along with drinks distributor Felicia Matheson and brewer Darren Nugent from Pokertree Brewing Company in Tyrone (I may have mentioned how much I love their treacle stout), are busy putting the final touches to this year's festival which takes place in the Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast between September 1 and 3.
Now in its second year, the striking Victorian surrounds of the church building on Clifton Street follows the Titanic Drawing Room which was last year's setting and shows the organisers' commitment to bold and interesting venues.
Of course, the beer will be the real star and the festival will showcase a wide range of brewers from across Ireland, Britain and further afield.
Michael Kerr admits that that a trip to Bruges (before it was 'hip', it must be said) ignited his thirst for great beer and turned him into a self-confessed 'beer geek'.
"The beer scene here and in the UK is so exciting and there are always new and interesting beers," he said.
Last year's festival brought a massively diverse crowd, a signal of beer's growing appeal across generations and genders.
"Last year we showcased many exciting breweries. The response was fantastic and in the year since, it's even clearer that people want more than just 'a pint'," said Michael.
"The local craft beer scene is growing rapidly, for the better. People want quality, choice and great flavour."
The organisers have managed to bring the delicious Danish brews of the marvelous Mikkeller to the festival as well as a few barrel loads of the latest offerings from English brewers of the moment, Cloudwater and Burning Sky.
There'll also be the fabulous fare on offer from the cornucopia of Irish brewers, such as Boundary, Bullhouse, Galway Bay and Kinnegar, who have been knocking out beers which can stand their ground against the best the rest of the world has to offer.
- For a full list of the brewers who will be at the festival and to find out more about buying tickets, go to ABVfest.com.