What has felt like a month of trade shows culminated last week with Craft Beer Rising.

Of all the events I have found myself wandering around – Pub16, Casual Dining, Enterprise LiveCBR (as it likes to call itself) is probably the pick of the bunch.

And this is not simply because of the incredible volume and variety of beer it has to offer.

Oh hang on, actually that's exactly the reason.

This year the event, held once again at the coolly understated and urban Old Truman Brewery in London's Brick Lane, had grown to such an extent that the layout was entirely different to the previous three years. It took me 20 minutes to get my bearings.

 

 

There were 150 breweries offering hundreds of different beers, plus a room (which in year one had been big enough to house all the breweries attending) now providing a home for the growing number of cider producers keen to reach out.

The growth of CBR reflects the continuing success and innovation in the craft sector. 150 breweries in a relatively small space seems like a lot but of course this is just the tip of the iceberg now that there are around 10 times that number of breweries in the UK.

It is also the place where many breweries, from small to mid-size to big, like to launch new products.

Charles Wells took the chance to showcase its Charlie Wells Triple Hopped IPA, following on from the launch of its Charlie Wells Lager at the same venue last year.

 

 

Everyone wants a slice of the craft beer action, and if you looked hard enough you could spot some of the big boys in disguise.

Carlsberg was there, no probably about it, with its Swedish lager in street art-inspired cans, Greene King's presence was in the guise of Belhaven and Marston's was only recognisable to the trained eye with it focusing on niche brands such as Shipyard, new craft lager King Star and it's crafty Revisionist range.

Other medium sized breweries, such as Adnams and Hogsback, offered samples of beers that are unlikely to ever be described as 'sessionable', such as a double-digit strength Russian Imperial Stout and a lager infused with chocolate essence.

Not everyone is a fan of the big brewers getting involved. In fact one employee at such a company has told me tales of how people had attended the show in previous years, enjoyed sampling the beer before slamming said drink down and storming off in a huff upon discovering it was made at a major brewery rather than in an rusty bath tub in a shed.

To an extent I can understand the cynicism towards major brewers getting involved but if this means better beer across the sector surely this has got to be a good thing.

The craft beer movement has given the national and global players a kick up the backside and they are responding by either buying smaller, craftier breweries or working on 'craft' projects of their own.

The result for the consumer should be a more vibrant sector with more interesting beers from the smallest to the biggest producers. Craft Beer Rising would suggest that is certainly the case.