This year’s Great British Beer Festival was held in Olympia for the second year after a few ‘wilderness years’ at Earl’s Court. It now feels as if it never left, and there’s no doubt that Olympia is the best venue for the Festival.
The names of the bars were again different this year, but I had no problem finding specific breweries and beers. For the first time use was also made of the National Hall, on the left as you enter from the main entrance opposite Kensington Olympia station.
The Champion Beers of Britain were once again announced from the stage by Roger Protz, on the Tuesday afternoon during the Trade Session. The overall winners were:
Gold – Elland – 1872 Porter (6.5%) (West Yorkshire)
Silver – Buntingford – Twitchell (3.8%) (Hertfordshire)
Bronze – Fyne Ales – Jarl (4.0%) (Argyll)
Last year the Gold award went to a Barley Wine at 8.5% abv (Coniston No.9 Barley Wine), and it was interesting to see this year’s winner also being a very strong beer, albeit one of different style. I was able to try the Silver award winner, but didn’t feel that a strong porter was what I wanted to be drinking in mid-August! Perhaps it will appear at a winter beer festival?
Anyway, as usual I’ve identified a few beers that I particularly enjoyed. They were:
Brecon – Orange Beacons (3.8%). I described this as ‘beautiful orange flavoured wheat beer’, and it successfully combined the wheat beer style with a refreshing fruitiness.
Dunham Massey – Chocolate Cherry Mild (3.8%). I’m not a great fan of the mild style, but this was completely amazing! For me, one of the best beers at the Festival, without doubt.
Offbeat – Raspberry Way Out Wheat (4.5%). Another take on the wheat beer style with the addition of raspberries.
Gower – Black Diamond (4.2%). This was described in the tasting notes as a ‘full bodied Welsh porter’, and the notes of chocolate and liquorice together with a general smokiness were in evidence. It was certainly one of the best porters I have tasted for some time.
These were my favourites of the ones I was able to try; one that I didn’t manage to sample was the interestingly named Beach Blonde Pacific Ale (3.7%) from the Sunny Republic brewery in Dorset. That’s one I’ll be looking out for in the future.
Food provision was good at the festival, with plenty of choice, and minimal queuing. There was also excellent, free WiFi.
I once again enjoyed the GBBF immensely, and look forward to next year’s festival. I haven’t been able to find the dates yet, but they will be on the CAMRA web site in due course. So, until next year’s festival, happy sampling!