GBBF 2018

Last week I had my annual pilgrimage to the Great British Beer Festival. I’m pleased to report that it was as good as ever. As with last year we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Earl’s Court (near West Brompton station), and also as last year, we took food to sustain us during the day while at the Festival). Angela joined me for the trade session again, which is really the best part of the event (less people there and generally a more knowledgeable crowd). The Champion Beer of Britain (CBOB) was announced then; this year it was Siren Craft Brew Broken Dream (6.5% abv), which I didn’t try to sample at the Festival (a bit high in abv for my carefully paced drinking!), although it’s one to look out for in the year to come. This year I exclusively drank one-third pints, which made it possible to sample more beer without risking after effects. Last year I mainly drank halves, so this is progress! I should record here that it was Angela’s sensible persuasion that converted me to this. An entire beer festival without drinking a whole pint of any beer is something that should be recorded …

This year I tried so many good beers that deciding on a favourite or favourites is near impossible (although a few notable ones are starred). Instead I list them all below (as usual fellow beer aficionados will find full details on my Untappd account).

Tuesday 7/08/18

Black Iris – Snake Eyes 3.8%

Castle Rock – Black Gold 3.8%

Good Chemistry – Kokomo Weekday 4.3%

Great Western – Alpha Centauri 4.37%

Bristol Beer Factory – Espresso Martini 4.5%

Bowland – Bumble 4.0%

Ossett – White Rabbit 3.8%

Adur – Hop Token: Citra 4.0%

XT – HopKitty 3.9%

Thornbridge – Salted Caramel Ice Cream Porter 4.5% *

Crafty Beers – Sauvignon Blonde 4.4%

White Rock – Pushang 3.8%

Baker’s Dozen – Electric Landlady 5.0%

Wednesday 8/08/18

Milk Street – Taiheke 4.3%

Turpin – Golden Citrus 4.2%

Prescott – Super 6 #3 4.5%

Staggeringly Good – StaggerSaurus 4.0%

Great Newsome – Elderflower Power 4.6%

Rother Valley – Ruby Wheat Beer 4.4%

Cerne Abbas – Watercress Warrior 4.5%

Colchester – Brazilian Coffee & Vanilla Porter 4.6% *

Lacada – 9 Rubies 5.5% *

Brass Castle – Hazelnut Mild 4.2%

Purple Moose – Elderflower Ale 4.0%

Rudgate – Brew No. 34 Dinga Dinga 4.0%

Panther – Berry Bite 5.5%

Brewster – Hophead 3.6%

Three B’s – Pinch Noggin 4.6%

Thursday 9/08/18

Incredible – Coriander & Lime 5.6%

Elliswood – Just One More 4.2%

Fuzzy Duck – Bramling Cross 3.7%

Tillingbourne – Surrey Sour 4.2%

Thornbridge – Strawberry Lucaria 4.5% *

Thornbridge – Jessamine 4.7%

Enville – White 4.2%

Rat – White Rat 4.0%

Saltaire – Triple Chocoholic 4.8%

Knockout – Irish Red Ale 4.5%

Potbelly – Pigs Do Fly! 4.4%

Budvar – Dark Lager 4.7%

This year on each day we attended (including Thursday, which was just me), we set up base camp in the seating area to the right as you come in to Olympia. This is a good location, as it is within fairly easy reach of most of the bars including those in the National Hall, and is worth remembering for future reference.

Finally, a few words about the GBBF itself. Although it is too early to say what the overall attendance was this year, it was very busy while I was there, and each morning the queues to get in at the 12:00 opening time were long. My impression is that it continues to be a very popular event, showcasing cask ale in all its many forms. But CAMRA and the GBBF seem to be an easy target of the press, although it often appears that those writing the articles are not cask ale enthusiasts anyway. During the Festival, I came across a piece in the Morning Advertiser entitled ‘London Craft Beer Festival v GBBF: which came out on top?’ Comparing these two festivals is pretty pointless in my view as they feature different products and probably cater for different audiences. But I definitely take issue with the implication in the article that the UK’s most exciting brewers are those producing Craft Keg! You have only to spend a few hours at the GBBF, and sample some of the diverse range of beers on offer to appreciate that there is plenty of excitement and innovation in the cask ale market. Long may it continue, and here’s to GBBF 2019!

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