Cheers, GBBF!

bb-&-jo-dring

What can I say? The GBBF – The Great British Beer Festival – otherwise know as Christmas in the beer world – was the week long festival of beer held at Earl’s Court in London last week.  Of course, I was there with The Main Man. And of course, it was epic. We met tons of great people. And I also MISSED meeting tons of great people because I got waylaid so much on Tues afternoon that my glass was empty for much of the time :-(.  So I made that second visit on Friday afternoon, and even that was curtailed. I’m already planning 2 afternoons there for next year so I DO get through my beer list.

 

Thornbridge bar very busy!

It was epic because of the sheer number of beers you can drink, but in terms of aesthetics the GBBF could improve. Don’t get it twisted: I explain the basics of Beer festivals in my Guide, but so much more could be done to make this festival way more enticing for novice beer drinkers, some more entertainment or background music and some more beer educational opportunities than were offered. It’s not helped by the fact that Earl’s Court is one seriously DARK hall! But next year it goes back to Olympia, so hopefully it will be more pleasing on the eye.

Sadly Melissa Cole’s ladies sessions weren’t on offer but the likes of Marston’s made the effort by bringing their  Cooper maker, Mark Newton, along so he could give demonstrations of constructing and de-constructing a cooper. I remember one year Shepheard Neame brought a demonstration of the brewing process, some hops and malt and so on too. More of this, I say. Much more!

 

All this is easier said than done on my part cos I’ve never organised a bf in my LIFE, so I can only imagine that the scope of what is on offer is limited due to lack of funds and also of time. Remember many of the staff involved in manning the bars at bfs and organise these shindigs give their time voluntarily. But beer festivals in general need to attract bigger numbers of novices and ‘once in a while’ beer drinkers, cos – let’s face it –  it’s already a given that the beer nuts among us will be turn up on the dot of opening time :-)

Who's that random guy inbetween me & Glyn (The Rake Bar)?!?

 

Short of boring you to death with too many picks of me grinning like a crazy Cheshire cat posing with all the lovely beer writers, brewers and members of the public I met, I’ll only post a couple and list what I drank and who I met.

After getting Tony Johnson from Fuller’s in an ever-so-gentle headlock, he organised me a 1-2-1 chat with John Keeling, the London brewery’s ever-congenial Head Brewer about the newly released Brewers Reserve No 3 (their ESB beer which had been aged in whisky casks for over 800 days) And I  had my first wondrous taste of it. Needless to say it was mind-blowing. Warming whisky and vanilla flavours in one cheeky sip. Wow. It was only available in limited amounts at the GBBF so there was quite a scrum at the times you can get yourself some at the Fuller’s bar.

I also met Julia from the Fordham Beers team.  They’d chosen the GBBF to launch their range of new American craft beers at the BSF stand.

The Main Man's verdict on Fuller's Brewer's Reserve No 3

 

All three were pretty groovy beers

 

It’s been too long since I saw Mr All Beer himself, Alex Barlow, so it was an absolute pleasure to chatter about the new Animee beers launched by Molson Coors (there’ll be a post on that coming up). I met the wonderful publisher, writer and all-round lovely,  Jo Copestick, Liz Vater & Pete Brown, Sophie Atkins & Malt Jerry, The Marstons Crew (Kimberley, Jo, Tom, Lucy, you know who you are!), Jo Dring & Jim Robertson at Wells & Youngs the Bombardier beer bus, Paul Halsey from Purity Brewing Co & his Head Brewer, Flo; Glyn from London’s The Rake Bar, Paul from Ales by Mail, The Venus Rouge brewsters (Kathy, Sara, Sophie), James from Brentwood Brewing Co, Canadian Beer writer and columnist, Stephen Beaumont and his gorgeous wife, Maggie, Nathan Nolan and Jonathan Queally. Lord help me if I forgot anyone else, and I’m sorry if I have :-(

Jo, Liz & I having a good old giggle!

On the first visit I had all three Fordham’s beers (lush), Liverpool Organic Josephine Butler Elderflower Ale, Backyard Brewhouse Summer, which is brewed up the road from where The Main Man & I live up in theWest Mids. We’ve not yet found time to go visit Austen and the team yet though. We will soon. I also had some Fuller’s ESB,Worthington’s White Shield. The Main Man had Titanic Nine Tenths Below, Holden’s Old Ale, and from the BSF stand he had Mad Fox’s Wee Heavy Ale and I had  Notch Brewing’s Heather Ale (both USA beers)

And my most fave beer of the festival is.....?

 

On (Flying) Visit Number 2  – I had yet more Liverpool Organic Josephine Butler Elderflower Ale, and some O’Hanlon’s Port Stout (see the pic of my mate, Deena enjoying her first EVER porter but don’t ask me HOW we got ourselves into the mess of her wearing a Brain t-shirt but not drinking Brains Stout. Eeeek!). And then I went on the hunt for some Mighty Oak’s Oscar Wilde   – the Mild which won this year’s Champion Beer of Britain. But the latest barrel had just ran out, so I had to opt for my second choice (but it was by no means a second choice!) Otley Brew Co’s O-Garden which was magnificent.

Deena's working that beer!

 

The wonderfully smiley girls from Sue Ryder, the GBBF's nominated charity this year

All-in-all it was a terrific couple of days, so cheers, GBBF! I’m looking forward to next year.

2 Responses to Cheers, GBBF!

  1. Stephanos says:

    Did you come to the BSF bar to buy those Fordham beers? Maybe I met you after all then as I sold plenty of those!

    • BEER BEAUTY says:

      hey Stephanos, no I didn’t come to the BSF for the Fordhams cos I had a special audience with their marketing team. Shame I missed you!! Hope it wasn’t too much of a knackering week!

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