Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 11:33:13 AM EST
Not so long ago I wrote about the London Drinker beer festival to give some idea of what goes on at a regional festival. So it was inevitable that I document something of the big one, the Great British beer festival. To give you an idea of the scale, the American bar had 100 different US beers on draught (that's draft in American) from the cask. With the exception of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, that makes it the largest selection of American beer anywhere. And that's just one of the bars.
Anyhow, here's a few panorama's to give you an idea of the scale.
This is the US beer bar where I spent far too much of my time drinking extremely hoppy concoctions of which their brewers are justifiably proud.
and the other end
I enjoyed the Willimantic Downtown Willi India Dark Ale as it was a twist on the idea of an India Pale Ale, but with a few dark malts for added complexity. Sadly I tried it again the day after and it had lost a lot in the night. It happens, real ale changes; for good and ill. I also enjoyed the serious hop thwack of Lost Abbey's Mongo but my favourite was Portmouth brewery's Bottle Rocket IPA. I should also give an honourable mention for Boston Beer Works - Fenway Brewery's Barrel Aged Habanero black IPA which my notes state was akin to pushing a cactus into my mouth.
There was also the Czech and German bar where I indulged my love of Schlenkerla Rauschbier. If it is available on draught, I simply have to have some.
They also had unpasteurised, unfiltered beers from both the Budweiser and Bernard breweries of the Czech Republic. Due to the difficulties of keeping these beers presentable because of their restricted shelf life (4 - 5 days) these are extremely difficult to find even in their native land, so it's was an unmissable opportuntity to have them here. I'd like to report that they were as wonderful as the similar Pilsner Urquell beer was when I had it, but to be honest I was underwhelmed by them. Still you have to try.
And of course, there were the British beer bars, featuring beers from such diverse places as the Channel Islands, Ulster and the Isle of Man all the way up to the far north Orkney Islands. There were 14 bars like this.
In addition there were various bars that were sponsored by breweries. The beers are still those selected by CAMRA, but the brewery gets the chance to do some marketing.
I am especially fond of the Grousebeater beer from Theaksons, which is normally restricted to pubs near the brewery, so it was nice to get a half of it.
And those who drink cider were well catered for...
Personally I don't care for British cider, preferring Normandy cider but I'm quite fond of Perry. However, seeing as most people you see heavily involved with the cider side of CAMRA seem to have warts or something strange about them, I tend to keep my distance in case it's catching ;-)) btw, that scale of cider from very sweet to very dry should really go from "I-can't-believe-you-expect-me-to-drink-this" to "Banned by the Geneva Convention" imo.
And of course there's food, lots and lots of it.
And interesting beer related paraphenalia and T-shirts
and finally, just to annoy Drew.
There was also a display on the brewing process, but I'll hold those for another diary I'll have the photos for in late September when I go to the Hop Back brewery.