"It's not much but it's ours"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Great British Beer Festival

I had a little birdy friend
By morning she was gone

It’s August and that can only mean one thing in the DH calendar - The Great British Beer Festival (or more accurately Beer Festivus). Unfortunately HS couldn’t make it as he’s in the Far East eating the extremities and unmentionables of small beasts so I roped in a couple of capable subs in the form sometimes drinking pal Paul and his long-time buddy Marius.

I arrived a bit before the others so I had a chance to sample the overall Champion Beer of the year before it ran out - Hobsons Mild. Quite a pleasant pint but really just a standard Mild. I’m really surprised that it won the overall Champion Beer. Much better was the Hooky Dark suggested by Paul and the TEA recommended by Marius. The Brains Dark was also pretty good. My call was for the ciders which if nothing else gave us a nice little mid-afternoon fillip. There were pies (of course there were) which had decent fillings but which were very salty. Paul said that this was to Northern tastes so I’ve obviously been down South too long. I also wear a coat in winter. The scratchings were pretty good though and weren’t those ‘lite’ version travesties I had at Wahaca the other day.

Whether it was the fact that it was the Festival’s 30th Anniversary or maybe the advertising had been particularly successful or even that it was a Friday and people were sagging off work early but it soon got pretty crowded. In a way this is great for the industry. Real Ale is one of the oldest and greatest artisanal products we have in this country and as a product of terroir and the fact it doesn’t travel well means you can’t get anything like this anywhere else in the world. Anything that makes people aware of our brewing heritage should be a good thing. The downside was that there were queues for everything, beers were going off, there was a claustrophobic atmosphere and by the time we left things were getting a bit lairy.

At past festivals DH have usually visited on a Thursday when things are not so hectic and there’s time and space to wander and appreciate things. There’s also more folk with funny hats which adds to the fun and emphasises the quirky nature of the event. On a Friday things felt a lot more serious. We still had a top time though and after a short tube journey and quick hop across the river finished the day with a meal at Masters Super Fish.

Great company, good ale and a slap-up supper of Fish and Chips. Sometimes things really don’t get much better.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still trying to get the hang of the GBBF. We go on the Thursday, and you're right; it's not really unpleasantly crowded then. I just have trouble with the noise. I think next year I am going to prepare for it in advance by getting up at 5am for the week previous, so I can go early and not have my body confused by being expected to drink beer at midday.

My pork scratchings expert says that the things Wahaca are advertising as pork scratchings are not in fact pork scratchings, but pork crackle, an entirely different beast. He thought Wahaca's version was a quite adequate pork crackle, but obviously if you're expecting pork scratchings then you will be disappointed.

(He usually makes sure to bring several bags of pork scratchings home from the GBBF — they freeze well, and you can even eat them straight from the freezer if desperate.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007 1:51:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

I have no problem drinking ale at midday and usually it isn't too noisy. I can only imagine the freesheets were maybe bigging it up a bit. It it means more young'uns drinking real ale it's probably a good thing.

Re Wahaca- well they're described on the menu as scratchings (twice in fact)so that's what I expected. DH eat them in Spain where they're know as torreznos and even this style are better that those at Wahaca. They just need to update their menu and maybe remove the words "Pork" and "Scratchings".

Sunday, August 12, 2007 6:52:00 pm  

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