I’ve only missed a couple of GBBF’s since they first moved to central London in 1991, so I make this my twenty third GBBF and the fifth I’ve reported here at The Brewclub since 2008.
The years I didn’t report were disappointments, I was unable to attend midweek and the range of beers available on the final days were sadly lacking. As my old mother used to say, “if you can’t say anything nice…”.
Back to this year, while I considered repeating last year’s ‘early doors’ triumph of getting the very first pint of Landlord poured at the festival, I had been invited to join Truemans (brewers of the rather wonderful London Keeper and 1883 Pale Ale) who were hosting a ‘beer and bagels breakfast’ bash in on a rooftop patio just around the corner. I bumped into Steve Williams – the ‘Beer Justice‘ – which was great, our paths haven’t crossed for a few years and it’s always good to catch up over a beer.
I entered the festival just after mid-day and, in a break from my personal tradition, encouraged by my companion, started with Jaipur instead of Landlord.
That set the tone for the day, which consisted mostly sampling light ‘golden’ ales of varying strengths, mostly from my old stamping ground of Chesterfield and north Derbyshire.
Oh, and ‘Four Swords’ a quadruple Belgian red style beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas. I’d enjoyed it at the previous evening’s British Guild of Beer Writers bash and sought it out. It’s brewed to a frankly scary 10.5% ABV but it’s rich, reminiscent of the beers of Westmalle or Rodenbach, and aged in casks that had previously held Cabernet Sauvignon wine. I will try and find a bottle for a more objective review, but in the meantime, if you see a bottle, grab it!
I finished the day with another pint of Jaipur, it’s available on draught so infrequently locally I simply couldn’t resist.
Elsewhere, Pete Brown (author of the excellent ‘Shakespeare’s Pub‘ and one of my favourite beer writers) was signing copies of his new book, so I joined the queue for that.
I’ll review the book in due course here at The Brewclub, but on first sight Pete appears to need educating in the better pubs of Essex as he only lists one, I’ll offer my services.
In another break with tradition, CAMRA announced the champion beers at a reception at a nearby hotel on the evening of the ‘trade day’ rather than mid-afternoon. The announcements used to generate instant queues for the winning beers.
The champion beer of Britain was announced as Bingham’s Vanilla Stout, brewed in Berkshire. And my local brewery – Wibblers – won Champion Stout of Britain for their Crafty Stoat. I guess that’s another brew for the shopping list.