The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) has been and gone again. This yearly beerathon organised by CAMRA is always a great day out and this year was no exception. If anything it was better as the festival was in Olympia, a much more pleasant building than grotty Earls Court, where previous festivals have taken place. Sadly I was drinking to much beer and didn't stop to take any snaps, so this is another photoless update. I expect my blogging rights to be revoked by Google any day now. If you want to imagine what the GBBF looked like, just imagine a giant greenhouse full of people selling you beer.
The light, airy Olympia building was a great environment for the festival. I spent the Wednesday there, where the crowds remained manageable all day, even in the evening when I was pretty soused. The threat of Olympic crowds must have been keeping people away. There was also a lack of corporate guests who nearly overran the festival last year. I don't remember getting belligerent at all about the crowds, which I tend to do when I've got a few drinks inside me
The festival was in good form with some excellent ales on offer. A new "Champion Beers" area grouped Champion Ales of past and present together in one superstar stall. The ales on offer read like a Who's Who of top notch beers, and I enjoyed a half of the excellent Chocolate Cherry Mild from the Durnham brewery. This ale tastes exactly how it is described and is always a treat. I didn't try the Champion Beer of Britain 2012, Lucky Number 9 from the Coniston Brewery, as it was a barley wine and quite frankly barley wine terrifies me. I'm sure it was very good though.
Elsewhere in the festival I thought I'd try another fruity ale, this time the Chocolate Orange Delight from Downton. I was looking forward to this one as chocolate, orange and ale feature very highly on my favourite things list. In fact the only thing it needed to tick off all items on my favourite things list was a giant pair of tits. Sadly the actual ale didn't live up to expectation and was a little bit sickly. It didn't even have that much of an Orange taste. If it was to have breasts they would probably be saggy and maybe a little hairy. Not so much a delight as a disappointment.
Things got much, much better with the Boggart Rum Porter, an excellent pint which sadly wasn't on when I visited Boggarts only outlet, the MicroBar in Manchester, documentated in a earlier update. I'm not a huge fan of porter but this was very suppable, perfectly hopped and the shot of rum really adding to the flavour. I could have drank this all day if there wasn't literally hundreds of other beers to sample. Other decent ales sampled included Raven Ale from Orkney, a very good example of a golden ale with a pleasent hoppiness and particulary dry finish, and the Dawkins Brass Knocker, another refreshing golden ale with a fruity flavour that went down well.
As the day rolled on the ales kept coming. All were delicious but as usual at a beer festival my notes stopped after around the 5th half pint, which is why I really shouldn't be allowed to blog. I made the mistake of ordering a Belgium Lambic beer which certainly refreshed the tastebuds with its vingary flavour. Some tastebuds were so refreshed I could feel them trying to run the hell out of my mouth. I found it disgusting to be honest but some people seem to enjoy it.
The American section was doing a brisk trade which really shows how the American craft ale scene has picked up speed over the last few years. A lot had sold out on the Tuesday, when the festival didn't even open to the public until the evening! A promising sounding Lagunitas ale had long gone so I settled for the servers suggestion of Brown Ryed Girl from Willimantic in Connecticut, which was absolutely fantastic. I was prepared for the usual American ale experience where the beer is tremendously hopped and tastes ridiculously fruity. However I was greeted with a wonderful caramel taste with spicy undertones. It was probably the best beer I had at the festival. Well done to the Americans.
The GBBF really is a good day out and with the pub games, live entertainment and vast amount of food available the time just flies by. I had a great time as always and look forward to returning next year. Hopefully they'll stick to the Olympia venue from now on.