Tag Archives: camra
Picture your average pub champion. You know, the man most likely to corral his beer-drinking fraternity to fight to save his local if it was under threat from a predatory property developer. Well scrap that picture, and let me show you a new one. There’s a new breed of pub crusader in town. Young mum, Tessa Blunden is heading up a fight to establish London’s first ever community, co-operative pub. In a battle reminiscent more of ‘Damsel versus Goliath’ than David, Tessa called on local people to ‘Save The Ivy House’. And luckily for me, Tessa gave me an exclusive interview…..!
Beer industry conferences are wondrous events. No, seriously, they are. I can say that now because I went to the biggest one in Britain the other week: the Society of Independent Brewers (which represents a truckload of British microbreweries) held Beer X in Sheffield. I shuffled myself along to the ‘Industry Day’. And boy, was I verbally assaulted by various fabulous members of the industry that day: Nigel Sadler kept promising to take me down to the cellar…to show me the mammoth beer festival operation that was taking place over the four days, of course. Sara Carter, Brewster at Triple FFF brewery revealed the secrets of her newest beer. Global mega-star, Brooklyn Brewery Master Brewer, Garrett Oliver held me and 200 others captive, and plied us with free (dammit, yes, I said FREE!) Sorachi Ace. And celebrity chef, Simon Rimmer (he of Sunday Brunch on Channel 4 every Sunday morning) regaled us with a tale of how he’s just launched his own range of beers designed to complement certain foods. (Check out my video which captured the moment both Garrett and Simon vied for the top spot in the Brightest, Shiniest Teeth comp – proceed with caution)
It’s my latest instalment of #LoveBeer! WOO!!
Like it or not, he appeared. As if by magic. Like the shop-keeper. I was minding my own business, chewing the fat with my beer pal, Kimberley , in a tight corner of a compact & bijoux downstairs room of The Westminster Arms near Parliament the other night. We’d not long arrived. We were being regaled with tales of Westminster life, by two rather lively MPs at a drinks party held by the British Beer and Pub Association. We, and around 50 others, were there to rejoice in the news that the beer duty escalator had been scrapped and there’d been a penny reduction on a pint. Then The Architect of the mirth in which we were indulging appeared. Kimberley poked me in the ribs. I turned around and almost splurted out my mouthful of beer, as I did a double-take. Classy.com. The strident figure in the dark suit was holding a pint of Shepheard Neame’s Spitfire Ale. Camera flashes ignited the room. It was a moment in history: the first ever snaps of The Chancellor, George Osborne actually holding a pint of beer.
‘Thanks, George! You’re a star!’ I secretly hoped I could say those words one day, and I’d rarely dared to dream. But now, I can let my feelings flow. Because I’m a woman who drinks beer, and The Chancellor has pleased me much! For most mainstream media, and non-beer drinkers, women like me are a bit odd. Female beer drinkers are pretty much dumped into the same category as that elderly lady you see on the news. You know the one? The one her concerned neighbour’s anonymously called the RSPCA about. The pensioner peeps her head forlornly around the small gap in her front door. Squinting at the animal officer in his smart peaked cap, she croaks ‘Good Morning’, as he spies what looks like dried soup on her cardigan collar. Mushroom or French Onion? Smack. A waft of ammonia darts out from inside the house and shoots up his nose, and as the lady steps back to let him inside the door reveals a hallway crammed chock full. Full of purring, playful cats of all shapes, sizes and colours wandering around her itty-bitty house, all dying to get out and greet their new beau. Who’s hopefully brought dinner.
I’ve just sat and live tweeted the headlines coming out of the live House of Commons debate over the beer duty escalator. After 104,000 of us who love beer signed an e-petition to get it to this point today, the case was put forward to a Minister from the Treasury as to why the beer duty escalator – the annual increase in taxes on beer – should be abolished. All to save the price of a pint going up, to stop more pubs closing and stop more jobs being lost.
The price of a pint of beer in the pubs is going though the roof – £1 goes to the government (50p in duty and 50p in VAT). In the 2hr 47mins debate that started at 1130, around 20 MPs delivered speeches and there were numerous interventions from countless other MPs who care about the beer and pub industry.
An army marches on its stomach and I was a beer soldier going into battle yesterday, so what better way than to tool up with a massive Bacon and Egg sarnie and a huge cup of coffee courtesy of Frank’s Sandwich SHop – just across the road from the front doors of the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) venue of Kensington Olympia.
There were crowds waiting outside at 1130am (!) so I waited patiently. I saw loads of old friends, made lots of new ones and recorded some videos too, the highlights of which are below. And, of course, I drank beer. So click on MORE to see the full SP. And make sure you get to this wonderful festival celebrating the brilliance of British (and others) beers and much much more. 800 different real ales, ciders and foreign beers and CAMRA, who’ve organised it all, is expecting around 50,000 people across the week with the last day being THIS SATURDAY! Be there, or be ever so slightly unhinged!
I had a big surprise tonight: I got a invite to the UK launch of two beers from a Czech brewery called Krušovice (pron: Croo-sho-veetcha). By the time I reached the lovely Draft House Tower Bridge Tasting Rooms I was soggy and boiling hot from the muggy weather outside, so gasping for a drink. I was handed a golden glass of 5.0% ABV Imperial lager, cold and dripping with tantalising condensation. And after one sip, I couldn’t stop. And though another beer – the 3.8% ABV dark lager – was also being launched (the beers are available in Scotland already) Imperial won the afternoon for me and made a big impression.
You might know I’ve been doing some journalism work these last few months in London and I’ve got a bolt hole over in Leytonstone. So when I was forced to do a 2-week stint there, I was more than relieved when The Hubz came down from Brum to save me from self-destruction.
We’ve been to a few of the pubs in the town before. And we were also a bus ride away on the 257 (to Walthamstow) which stops in Leyton right outside the King William The Fourth pub which is also where Brodie’s microbrewery is. I’ve lost count of how many times people have said to me ‘Oh you gotta go to Brodie’s’ and – as I’m still recovering from a nasty chest infection – I wasn’t at all in the mood to venture much further afield that day. But within an hour and one half pint later, we were back on the bus and sitting in The Red Lion to while away the afternoon there instead. Do you want to know why?
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.
The last beer festival of BB’s birthday month was the epic 4th annual Heart of Staffordshire Beer Festival. And what a way to see out my birthday month!!! CAMRA Festival Organiser, Dave Clark, invited me a few months ago totally out of the blue because I’d never met him or had anything to do with Staffs CAMRA before. At that stage I couldn’t commit to any dates but then – when one of my old work mates, top BBC Midlands Today TV reporter, Laura May McMullan, said she fancied going there – I had the perfect excuse. After getting to our hotel in Stafford, I gave beer festival virgins, Laura and her friend, Jane (who’s now a my new friend) the low-down with my guide to beer festivals. We all tootled over to the Blessed William Howard School hall in Stafford town centre. When we arrived we were greeted by a huge throng of people and the prospect of over 70 beers (plus ciders, perries & wines)