beer festivals

Not-extreme beer at GBBF


We’ve always had mixed feelings about the Great British Beer Festival but our experiences are getting better and better each year.

This year I went along to the trade day, which was definitely the best way to experience it.  It’s a bit quieter, and the beer seemed in much better condition.  It also helped that I was drinking in such fantastic company — Ally, Bionic Laura, Beer Nut, Thom and other representatives of Irish Craft Brewer were great drinking companions.

I decided to stick to beers at 4% or less for the first couple of hours — partly to save the liver and partly to narrow down the choice a bit.  I got to try some excellent session beers from all over Britain and particularly enjoyed:

  • “Good as Gold”, by the Spire Brewery (4%)
  • Butt’s “Jester”,  3.5%, fruity and dry, like a nice Franconian wine
  • Hooky Dark, 3.2%, sweet, chocolatey with a touch of coffee
  • Moor Revival, 3.8%, crisp and floral
  • Welton’s Pride and Joy – for a mere 2.8% this is a remarkably tasty beer and doesn’t taste “low alcohol” at all.

I had a few others that didn’t float my boat, but all in all, it goes to show that you can pack a lot of flavour (and different flavours at that) into relatively low-strength beers.

I had a couple of pies, then hit the stronger stuff.  Midas Touch “Ancient Beer”, by Dogfish Head, is brewed with honey and saffron.  Sharing a bottle was definitely the way to go. This stuff was rich.  I mostly got honey and not a lot else, but it was a very interesting beer, and would make a nice appetiser.

A sip of Ally’s Tsarina (by De Molen) was a revelation. It’s possibly the most intense Imperial Stout I’ve ever tasted. Too intense for GBBF, in my view. This is the kind of beer I want to savour over several hours in a cosy Belgian bar, not knock back in a bustling aircraft hanger.  It deserves respect.

So, I went for Portsmouth’s Milk Coffee stout, which tasted like cold Irish coffee (that’s a good thing). I liked it a lot, but not as much as Rogue chocolate stout, which my phone tells me I’ve drunk before, but which I don’t recall being as tasty as it seemed this time.  It’s like a grown up version of Young’s Chocolate stout.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to finish the evening there.

It was also nice to meet Mark, and to see Tandleman, Pete Brown and Brad/Dubbel again.


6 replies on “Not-extreme beer at GBBF”

The Tzarina Ezra Reserva was amazing wasn’t it? Reminded me of vintage port. De Molen, by the way, is in fact a Dutch micro (apologies if you knew this) and arguably the best brewery in the Netherlands (although Brouwerij De Schans Saison is still my favourite Dutch beer – check it out if you ever come across it).

That jumper has certainly been doing the rounds of the blogs.

Lovely to see you again, Boak.

And De Molen is well worth a visit if you’re ever in that part of the world.

Midas Touch is a beer I’ve had on the list for a while, simply because it sounds so interesting. Nice work. Missed out this year due to other commitments (ie getting married and having to save money), but will be attending in 2010.

This GBBF was a revelation. Trade Day is definitely the way to go, though all the 9% beers crept up on me and I realized if I stayed a moment longer I would have another and it wouldn’t have been good! Next year I’ll play it safe– you were smart.

Lovely to finally meet you Boak! I’m sorry the jumper crept into your photo, I think it liked getting it’s picture taken. You’re right about the Tzarina Ezra, it’s not a festival beer. It’s a sipping by the fire on frosty day just after a long walk in the hills kind of beer.

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