As well as my scientific and musical interests, I’m a CAMRA member and a fan of real ale. Each year, unless I’m out of the country, I make a pilgrimage to the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF), and this year was no exception, with the festival taking place last week from Tuesday (3 August) until Saturday.
The festival showcases real ale from all over the UK, and also has an excellent section for ale from elsewhere in the world. There are plenty of food outlets, and entertainment (including musical entertainment) is provided.
I first attended the GBBF in 1983, when it was held in Birmingham, and it has used a number of venues since then, including Brighton, and for many years, Olympia in London. The move to Earls Court a few years ago was made as a result of needing more space, but I preferred the slightly more intimate aspects of Olympia. However, the festival becomes more popular each year; this year attracting nearly 67,000 visitors, so the move was clearly justified!
At the festival, the Champion Beer of Britain is announced, and this year it was Castle Rock Harvest Pale, from Nottingham, which was already a favourite of mine. It is good to see this particular type of relatively low alcohol (3.8%) and very refreshing beer doing well.
This year the distribution of beers and breweries was changed, and whereas previously there were bars representing different parts of the country, this year it was done in alphabetical order of the brewer’s name. In my opinion this system didn’t work as well, and meant that in practice it took longer to find a particular brewery or beer. But if this is repeated next year, I suppose I’ll gradually get used to it! This however is only a minor, cosmetic criticism.
In conclusion, it was another great GBBF, and I look forward to GBBF2011!