Thursday, 4 August 2011

Pete Drinks: The Great British Beer Festival

This week sees the Great British Beer Festival once again hitting Earls Court in London. Being both a beer fan and Londoner, it’s something of an embarrassment that I’ve never managed to attend before, so this year I made the effort and headed down this afternoon (in a cunning attempt to avoid the worst of the crowds…)

I have some thoughts and pictures that I’ll share in a longer post in the next few days, but for those of you yet to go (you have until Saturday to get down there!) here are some of the beery highlights.

Champion Beer of Britain Winners

As often seems to be the case at beer festivals, the overall gold medal winner, Mighty Oak’s Oscar Wilde was sold out. While I’m used to it, I find it a little disappointing – it’s not like the GBBF is a small organisation, and it should have been possible to get enough stock in to last as far as half-way through the festival. It can’t have been a surprise that everyone wanted to try some!

The silver medal went to Marble Chocolate, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed before.

The bronze overall, along with the gold medal in the Bitter category, went to Salopian’s Shropshire Gold. I have to say, I found this one rather disappointing – it had all the elements there, a little sweetness, some biscuity malt, a fairly generous hop bitterness but it didn’t really balance well for me. It was ok, but no more than that, which makes me wonder just how out of touch with the CAMRA judges I am!

I explored some of the Speciality Beer category winners, with much happier results. The gold medal went to Oakleaf’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bitter - a well hopped lager, sweet, creamy textured and oh so tasty.

Silver went to Amber’s Chocolate Orange Stout which had been recommended to me as one to try already and rather disturbingly delivers everything the name promises. It smells of chocolate and orange, and tastes of it too without going overboard. It’s a little odd, but very tasty.

And The Rest…

As well as wanting to explore the various winners, I wanted to take the opportunity to finally try various beers which have been on my ‘to drink’ list for a while. Top of that list was Thornbridge’s Jaipur IPA which is one of those beers that I’m always hearing about and somehow never found on tap. Pale and sweet, with a good punch of fresh hop aroma and a massive hop finish that leaves your tongue literally tingling. Its’ a magnificent beer that richly deserves all the awards it seems to spend it’s time winning – and a perfect way to celebrate International IPA Day.

I also had the chance to finally try some of Brodie’s Beers, one of those young London breweries that had so far eluded me. Their Amarilla was a sensational glass of hops – fresh, sweet, citrusy and simply delicious. And their Superior London Porter was, well, superior – big, bold, chocolate and coffee and a real alcoholic kick at 7.1%. The only negative was that they only have two beers at the festival and I’m even more determined to track down and try their whole range!

A final mention for Redemption’s Fellowship Porter. Despite having gone with the intention of only drinking new beers, I couldn’t resist a glass of this wonderful sweet, coffee filled porter and neither should you.

5 comments:

Mzungu said...

I drunk so many that in the end everything was blurring into one. The names of the beers were fantastic.
After a 2 year break it was good to go back and continue my CAMRA glass collection over again......

Pete Favelle said...

That's always a danger; I was strict and kept to 1/3rd pints which helps a lot!

Food Urchin said...

Well I am orf to the festival today so will be sure to seek out some of your recommendations Mr Pete Drinks.

Having gone to GBBF for the last two years running now, I wholeheartedly agree with the continual disappointment of the festival winner selling out after only a day or so. Seems that only those on a trade/press ticket get the chance to sample and they end up drinking the lot.

The bastards!

Mark said...

The trouble with the CBOB is that as soon as it's announced everyone wants to drink it. And the winner is only decided on the Tuesday. The brewery would've sent more down to the festival immediately but it would've just been gulped down quickly. It's not a rare beer though so you should be able to find it around London.

I would suggest that the winners is not necessarily where the best beers at the festival will be found! You got through some good ones though. Fellowship Porter is a great beer - I love the Redemption beers.

Pete Favelle said...

From what I can see it's from a fairly short shortlist - I can understand the problem to an extent (just seen @tiggermethis 's picture of the queue today - guess they sent some more!) but it's frustrating as hell.

Perhaps they need to consider doing the judging the previous week so that they can order a truckload from the brewery in advance? I dunno; it just seems a shame that the majority of visitors to the show don't even get a chance to taste the champion.

And yes, I will certainly keep my eyes open for it (it's a shame they don't bottle it!)