This year the Great British Beer Festival returned to Kensington Olympia, and took place from 7-11 August. This year Earl’s Court was an Olympics venue, and its long term future is uncertain. But as I said last year, the return to Olympia is definitely a positive one, and walking through the doors on the first day was really like coming home! Just to concentrate the mind, there were a few transport changes to contend with; the Piccadilly Line ‘shuttle’ from Earl’s Court to Olympia seems to have stopped running, so the new ‘approved’ route is to take the London Overground line which runs from Clapham Junction to Stratford, stopping at West Brompton (for the Piccadilly line) before it reaches Kensington Olympia itself. This worked out particularly well for me, because this year I stayed at a hotel in Guildford (because of the London hotels price hike during the Olympics), so I could take a train from Guildford and change at Clapham Junction.
As for the Festival itself, it was well up to standard. The programme, and the labelling of the bars, made it easy to locate a specific beer, and almost all of the ones I wanted to try were available when I looked for them (which hasn’t always been the case in the past). The announcement of the Champion Beer of Britain (CBOB) was made, as usual, during the Trade Session, and the overall results were:
Gold – Coniston, No.9 Barley Wine (Coniston, Cumbria)
Silver – Green Jack, Trawlerboys Best Bitter (Lowestoft, Suffolk)
Bronze – Dark Star, American Pale Ale (Horsham, West Sussex)
The award of the Gold to a Barley Wine was an interesting one for a summer festival! The beer is 8.5% in strength, which is a bit on the strong side for me, although I can imagine enjoying it in the winter months. So I didn’t attempt to try it at the Festival. However, the Silver award winner, from the Green Jack Brewery in Lowestoft, was another matter. I lived in Suffolk for about 13 years, I still identify with the county, and I’ve enjoyed Green Jack beers before. The Trawlerboys, at 4.6%, was a much more appropriate strength, and I enjoyed it so much that I have identified it below as one of my favourites from the Festival.
I will hopefully write another post on the beers I particularly enjoyed at the festival, but work commitments, and a very successful academic research visit (see a later post) have been taking my time recently. But hopefully more later!