Tuesday 9 August 2011

CAMRA Great British Beer Festival - Part Two

Not bad attendance for 1:30pm on a Friday

Earl's Court Exhibition Centre really is a terrible place to hold the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival. Essentially a big metal warehouse with a concrete floor the place has no charm, no atmosphere and not nearly enough men's toilets. Apparently this is the last year the beer festival will be held there. I would love for the festival to be held in a massive park with plenty of marquees, entertainment and a firework show at the end but I suspect it will return to its roots at the Olympia centre.

Despite my initial fears Friday afternoon turned out to be a fairly quiet time for the festival and much beer was drunk. Earls Court was unbearably hot and the cynical may think this was a ploy to get punters to buy more beer. However I genuinely think it's because years of the Daily Mail Home & Garden show and the middle class tossers it attracts has turned Earls Court into a vengeful, hateful entity that wishes misery on anyone who enters.

Getting the ale ball rolling was the Triple fff “Alton Pride,” a previous championship winner. Despite the brewery having a terrible name this is a refreshing and delicately hopped session ale that got the day off to a good start. Next up was the Black Swan Dark Mild by the Vale brewery. This was a fairly standard mild with a pleasant chocolatey and coffee taste but nothing to really make it stand out.

The escalator went to the CAMRA lounge.
I was too scared to enter.
I opted for a Steak & Ale pie with mushy peas at this point. One of the best things about the festival apart from ale is the food that is on offer. Just about every type of pub grub is available with pies, scampi, curries, kebabs, bratwurst and more just waiting to go into stomachs that really don't need any more padding. There's also a olive stall for the hippies and Sloanes who have wandered in by mistake. You could probably spend more on food here than you could beer.

After the pie it was back to ales and I kicked things off with the Championship Beer 2011, the Oscar Wilde by Mighty Oak in Essex. I had to queue 15 minutes for a taste – it was like being at Disneyland Paris. Except I wasn't surrounded by 15 year olds smoking like trains and sporting mullets that make you think that an unfortunate rodent has died on top of their heads.  The Oscar Wilde was a lovely ale but I don't understand why the brewery didn't go for the Oscar Milde pun. For this reason I would not have awarded it Championship Beer. Luckily for Mighty Oak I'm not on the voting board.

Plenty more beers followed as the day rolled on. Highlights included Caskadia by Hopshackle, a very fruity but very refreshing ale with a nice vanilla tinged aftertaste. As the Cains Liverpool brewery were not in attendance I settled for a Hyde's of Manchester ale for my taste of the North West, with their Swift Delivery offering. A golden summer ale the taste was fine but it wasn't anything special. It also wasn't bad enough to be nicknamed "Shit Delivery" which in a way made me hate it more. The Kinver “Edge” was a hoppy treat with a lovely fruity flavour which made it a pleasure to drink. The Lancaster “Blonde” was fine if unexciting. The guide promised “lemon, grapefruit and elderflower” flavours but none of these really came through.

I also managed to sip a couple of my friends choices who turned out to have bonkers taste in ale. The first was Chocolate Cherry Mild by Dunham Massey which tasted exactly like cherry coke. The second was a German beer so foul I've forgotten the name, although I would suggest the name “Worse than the Nazi's.” It was a beer that somehow tasted like yoghurt. Not good.

The night started to take its toll.
I'm sure I drank plenty more ales but the notes in my beer guide got more and more incomprehensible as the night wore on so I can't really comment on any more. Also the laptop is starting to warm my crotch to terrifying levels so for the sake of my fertility I'll stop here. I had a great time at the beer festival as always and CAMRA do a fantastic job organising what is essentially the worlds biggest Wetherspoons. However next year please make the festival last longer. The festival finished on Saturday and on Sunday half of London was in flames. Coincidence? I think not.

AN APOLOGY: In my last blog post I used the name “Horatio” as a fake name for one of my co-workers. The blog post was typed before I had learned of the death of Horatio Chapple at a polar bear hands. I would like to apologise for any distress caused to the family of Horatio and any other families who have had a son eaten by a polar bear.

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