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Friday, 6 August 2010

Great British Beer Festival 2010

The Great British Beer Festival is a difficult beast, she both giveth and she taketh away.

I awoke on Thursday morning feeling like I’d been run over by a bus. The ghost of a beer drinker, sapped of life, eyes itchy and heavy, achy legs and pounding head. Consecutive days at that festival take their toll, and not solely down to the effect of alcohol either. Standing up all day, walking what seems like miles around beer aisles and a diet consisting almost exclusively of pork; your body will reach a point where it just says NO MORE!

She’ll chew you up and spit you out, even if you are well prepared.

But walking through those doors, into that cavernous room, a rejuvenation takes place like no other. Beer from around the globe, beer you’ve never encountered and might not ever see again, bottles you’ve lusted over for months, hidden gems waiting to be unearthed. It’s everything great about beer under one roof, waiting to be explored, sampled, shared and talked about.

The air hangs thick with enthusiasm for great beer; the most effective remedy for even the sorest of heads, capable of reviving that flame you hold for craft beer from the merest of embers.

You find yourself moving from one beer related conversation to another. Chats with professionals about the way they brew and the beers they make, dissecting flavours over shared thirds and making sure everybody hears about a great beer when you find one. At one point I sat sharing a beer flavoured with Cuban cigars, one made by Italian Gypsies and one that tasted like smoked paprika, the only relevant topic being the food we’d most like to pair with each.

Outside those four walls time passes as normal, but you’re completely oblivious to it. When it finally becomes time to return, you’ll not only leave with your back aching and your head spinning, but with a stronger desire than ever to go out, drink, learn about and share great beer.


dalai_lager said...

All so true. This year was the first time I've done more than one session there, and I enjoyed this year's more than previous (and not just because of the increased consumption). A little more time allows you to try things you might not normally, go a little off-piste, have a few more "what the hell" moments.

Mark said...

Exactly ... much better to spread it out and spend a bit of time drinking the more 'unique' beers on offer.

It doesn't get much more 'what the hell' than a brewer who connects Cuban cigars to his fermenter!

Peter O'Connor said...

I was sampling beers fermented with banana and sultanas, some evil Danish Imperial Stout and a hefty dose of Lambic. Wonderful day out though, so, so true about leaving with the head spining and a stronger desire than ever to go out and drink beer.

Mark said...

That sounds like a combination that would rock even the strongest stomach! :P

Start the count down to next year!