An evening in the sun showed me how vital Liverpool's beer scene is

The ECHO's Paddy Edrich, Dan Haygarth and Liam Thorp each hold a beer as they stand outside at the Craft Beer Expo 2024
-Credit: (Image: Liverpool Echo)

A trip to a beer festival was the perfect way to spend a sunny Thursday evening.

Baltic Triangle brewery Black Lodge is hosting this year's Craft Beer Expo, bringing breweries from across the UK to Liverpool for a beer festival The event began on Thursday (June 6) and runs until today (June 8).

The sun was shining on Thursday evening, so my ECHO colleagues Liam Thorp, Paddy Edrich and I made the journey across town to the Baltic. What greeted us when we arrived was heavenly for anyone with an interest in beer.

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Around 40 craft breweries had set up shop at Black Lodge, each pouring a small selection of their offerings. And if you needed to line your stomach or soak up some of the beer, there was a range of food vans to help you out.

After parting with some cash for tokens, we set about sampling the goods. Spoiled for choice, I began with a hazy number from Newcastle's Wylam brewery, which always serves as a welcome reminder of university for me.

The brewery's Jakehead IPA is exceptional, fruity and very hoppy. Exactly what you want from a craft beer.

Overture - a pale ale from new Bootle brewery Colbier - was a favourite for all three of us, but the standout for me was the interestingly-named Football Friend - a fantastically crisp Helles lager from Manchester brewery Sureshot.

I'm a big fan of any beer festival, but the Craft Beer Expo was all you could hope for. The sun was out, there was plenty of interesting beer to try and Black Lodge made for a great setting for such an event. The brewery and its neighbours Sub Rosa and ping-pong bar Wiff Waff boast plenty of outdoor space and the post-industrial surroundings, though a little cliché, feel right for craft beer.

A pint of beer at the Craft Beer Expo at Black Lodge brewery
The Craft Beer Expo is held at Black Lodge in the Baltic Triangle -Credit:Dan Haygarth / Liverpool ECHO

The Expo was a superb event and it has come at just the right time for the industry. As the ECHO has reported, times have been tough for breweries recently.

Our region has lost three in the last few months - Speke real ale brewery Big Bog collapsed into administration and closed in March, while Bootle's Top Rope and Runcorn's Chapter are calling it a day at the end of this month - with this expo one of their last hurrahs.

Events like this expo not only give smaller breweries a chance to show off their beers, but they serve as a reminder of just how important it is that they can survive and thrive. Many of them are tiny operations, experimenting and doing exciting things with beer, pushing boundaries and creating interesting new products. Pubs and bars would be poorer without them.

As we left, slightly worse for wear, their importance was not lost on us. You can't ask for much more than a sunny evening at a beer festival. And you can't hold a beer festival without breweries.

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