Beer Festival 2022 Interview with Laurence and Doctor Beer

June 08, 2022

This interview was originally published in C&B News' June 2022 edition (pdf). Thanks for their permission to republish here.

The 2022 Currie Beer and Curry Festival is just around the corner. Organiser Laurence Aitken and "Doctor Beer" James Nicol give us some behind-the-scenes insights into this legendary local event.

It's amazing to have the Beer Festival on our doorstep - how did it all start?

Doctor Beer: It was 11 years ago that the Round Table decided we should have (some kind of) a mid-year event to add to our Fireworks and Santa Runs. (They) We came up with the idea of a beer festival. It was organised by Tim Dew and Christine Owen, starting out at the Gibson Craig Hall and soon moving on to a bigger venue at Currie Community Centre. Laurie Aitken has been the main organiser for the last few years.

So what preparations are underway for this year's beer festival?

Laurence: The preparation started as soon as last year’s event finished. We have a great team pulling together with all the jobs - arranging food, designing the room, booking the bands, organising the staff rota and of course sourcing the finest beers from around Scotland and the UK. James has the beer on order, and the first casks have arrived! Cider, lager, wine and fizz are ready to go! The all important curry is ordered and our collectors item(!) glasses have arrived. Furniture and fridges are sorted too. The week leading up to the festival is always pretty hectic with a big team of volunteers lined up. It all starts on the Monday when Blacklight arrives to start the event build. They put up the structure for the drapes, lights and decorations that will transform the venue from a sports hall to a beer tent . On Tuesday the bar is built and the racking for the casks goes in. Meanwhile, more volunteers are preparing glasses, beer tokens and wristbands, checking the online ticketing sales and keeping the social media messages going. Then on Wednesday the casks are “tapped” and “spiled” before they hit the racking where they’ll lie undisturbed until Friday. Blacklight will be back to build the stage and set the mood with lighting, sound and special effects. . Thursday is finishing touches day as the tables and chairs arrive, table cloths go out and we check that everything is ready. James will be back in on Friday for quality control… Doctor Beer: Yes, I’ll be "tapping" the casks for "quality control". Once the beer has settled and cleared, we need to get rid of any particles around the tap, so we pour off a little from each cask have a quick taste to check it isn't "off". We’ve not had a bad cask in ten years, but we can’t be too careful…

So what's the line up?

Doctor Beer: As always, we want to help folks try a wide range of beers and breweries, hopefully many of which will be new to people. We'll announce the line-up on Facebook as we approach the event and we’ll have tasting notes on the night. There are a few breweries we’ve not had before including some local and some further afield plus some old favourites. We'll have Paolozzi pouring again for the lager die-hards and a great range of real ciders including the ever-present Thistly Cross and several others. We'll also have a good range of wines including white, red, rose and white/pink fizz.

I heard the curry was good last year. What's the story there?

Laurence: We had a last minute switch of suppliers last year to the Kasbah takeaway in Marchmont. The feedback was fantastic so they’ll be cooking for us again this year! We’ll have a choice of Chicken, Lamb or vegetable curry all served with rice and naan. Just be sure to buy your curry ticket in advance - we’ll have a few extra portions on the night but it sells out quickly.

What else can we expect on the night?

Doctor Beer: We don't like to change a winning formula too much - it's the biggest and best annual party in the community. We’ll have yummy curry, live music, dodgy dancing and an all-round brilliant atmosphere. Players from Currie Chieftans will be serving the usual mix of great drinks.

Do you have any top tips for anyone going for the first time?

Doctor Beer: We serve the beer in third pint glasses (but full pints are available, as are two-pint pitchers). I like to start with lighter ales - blonde/golden, then pales, then hoppier IPAs, then amber/dark beer and finally porters/stouts. If you go with a bunch of mates, take turns to pick a beer in a two-pint pitcher so that you can all try the same beer together. Pretty much most beers go with curry, but some will prefer a cool pint of Paolozzi from Edinburgh Beer Factory.

How much do you hope to raise?

Laurence: We’re happy just to put an event on and get the community together, but last year we still made over £4000 which we donated directly to local food banks. We call it "drinking with a conscience!". Profits depend on sponsorship and we have some great businesses supporting us.

So who are the sponsors?

Laurence: We have a new main sponsor this year, St Andrews Timber. Grant Porteous and his team at local Funeral Directors, Porteous Funerals, are continuing their support and sponsorship of our glasses. We also have numerous companies sponsoring a cask and you can look out for them on our Facebook page. Any businesses wanting to sponsor a cask can still get in touch - it’s great value local advertising and includes two entrance tickets with food.

And do you need any more volunteers? You must need some help sampling the beer...?

Laurence: There are always lots of wee jobs to do so anyone is welcome to come along and help us out any evening in the week of the event. We are always looking for clear-headed helpers on the Sunday morning for the big clear-up when we return the Community Centre back to normal. If anyone can offer a few hours on the Sunday morning they’ll get a free ticket for 2023!

The Currie Beer & Curry Festival is on 10th & 11th June 2022 at the Currie Community Centre. Tickets are on sale now at

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