Against the Grain

17 February, 2017

As well as the fear of flying, the time away from home and her husband of two and a half years, Joe Stokoe was, understandably, taking its toll on other aspects of Dedianko’s life.

“I’m married and I never saw my husband. I wanted something that was still creative and still in the industry but where I could just stay put.”

Her new job will see her in one place for a while. But the move wasn’t gifted to her, despite an impressive resume and being good friends with Drink Up MD Hannah Sharman-Cox.

“Hannah made me do a full, proper interview. She knew I was good at my job and loved beer but this job requires a different skill set.”

The role is keeping Dedianko busy. Now in its third year, London Beer Week is the youngest of the three Drink Up festivals – Wine Week is in its fourth year and Cocktail Week in its eighth. The big change for Beer Week this year – other than Dedianko – is the move from February to March.

The new festival director says: “March is just a bit friendlier for people going out. Also, organising a festival in Feb is tricky because you do the bulk of the organising before Christmas, which is tough. We were also clashing with Craft Beer Rising, which was previously our partner.”


Dedianko says the two festivals still have a great relationship and thinks both will thrive now they don’t clash. “Craft Beer Rising talks to a different audience and is much more trade-focused, whereas ours makes no concessions about the fact we aren’t a craft beer festival. There will be big brands there, just as with Cocktail Week. It is a consumer festival and a celebration of all beer.”

The new news is The Beer Edit, taking place from March 13-18. “It is our version of a beer village and the Friday happens to be St Patrick’s Day. The cocktail market at Spitalfields has been a really great model and a huge success. We are replicating that with beer at the Oval Space in Bethnal Green. It has got everything you need in one place. East London is very edgy, good for beer.”

So, how does the face of the festival feel? “It’s a new project for me and I feel a lot of pressure to make it great because I would never want to let that legacy down,” she says.

“It’s so different this year. Year three for any festival is kinda the tipping point. It’s when it’s got enough noise around it but it’s when things start to change.”

Many will question if beer has always been a passion for Dedianko and her response is a refreshingly honest one. “Yeah, always,” she says. “I have worked behind a bar since I was 18/19. I worked as a cocktail waitress first then I moved up to the bar. I liked beer-ish, more like a beer and a shot. Very easy-drinking beers – a Budweiser or a Blue Moon. Nothing challenging.”

If she hadn’t got there on her own, then she would have had to answer to her mum. “She really loves beer and has always been a beer drinker. I remember one time I took a sip of her beer and said it was gross. She said: ‘No daughter of mine is not going to like beer’ - and she was right.”

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