Raise a glass to Oxford Beer Week with Dan Hearn of Loddon Brewery

UNLESS you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ll have noticed Britain is in the midst of a beer boom.

From pilsners to porters, milds to milk stouts, it has never been a better time to enjoy a pint of the good stuff.

But while it’s great to sample those beers brewed nationally and internationally, there is an incredible range of beer being made right here in Oxfordshire – which is why we’ve decided to hold the first ever Oxford Beer Week.

Taking part in pubs across the city from May 1 to 6, the event will showcase the sheer array of ales brewed locally and will give locals and visitors a taste of what the county has to offer.

We’re all part of an organisation called the Oxford Brewers’ Alliance and we meet once a month at one of Oxford’s many great pubs to discuss, support and decide how we can best showcase what we’re doing.

Over some beers in the Rose and Crown, the idea of Oxford Beer Week was born.

Oxfordshire beers deserve championing.

From the long-established breweries like Hook Norton, Brakspear and Wychwood, to the more recent editions like us (Loddon), XT, Loose Cannon, Turpin, Little Ox, Cotswold Brewing Co and Church HanBrewery, there’s a range of styles and qualities that would be the envy of any county. Oxford city itself is lucky to have three great breweries – LAM Brewing, Shotover and Tap Social.

Brewing isn’t easy. It’s an expensive process which hasn’t been helped in recent years by soaring material costs, hikes in beer duty and a busier market place. Pubs are closing at an alarming rate and drinkers are increasingly choosing to stay at home.

To put this in perspective, when we at Loddon brewed our first beers in 2003, there were less than 500 breweries in the UK. There’s now more than 1,700. Over this time, the amount of alcohol being consumed per head has fallen by 18 per cent.

There are positives to this, however. Walk into any pub now and you’ve a good chance of finding a range of interesting, well-made, very often locally-brewed beers. People who had never considered beer are drinking it. There’s an exciting buzz around the industry.

This is why we want to celebrate local Oxfordshire beers – and the amazing pubs that serve them. Oxford is blessed with an extraordinary array of inns, some many hundreds of years old, and a great deal of which champion local beers.

Us breweries rely on the efforts of pubs like The Mason’s Arms, The Gardener’s Arms, The Rose and Crown at North Parade, The Perch at Binsey, The Lamb and Flag, The White Rabbit and many more.

This is what makes Oxford such a great place to drink beer – quality, choice and great venues.

It’s a city which embraces diversity in all walks of life, and its approach to ales is no different.

Oxford Beer Week is an event for everyone. As well as pubs offering local beers, breweries like Hook Norton and XT will be hosting open days where people can discover how their beers are made.

The Perch at Binsey is kicking off the week with a mini-festival which will showcase beers from all breweries who are members of the Oxford Brewers’ Alliance.

We hope to make this an annual event, and for it develop into something people look forward to – beer and pubs are both things Oxford, and the wider county, can be proud of. Owners and brewers from all the breweries involved will be around Oxford during the event, so make sure you grab a beer and come and say hello.

For more information about Oxford Beer Week, visit oxfordbrewers.org/oxbeerwk, facebook.com/oxbeerweek and twitter.com/oxbeerweek