Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) 2011

British beer/ale (and henceforth, all shall be referred to as “beer”)  is another area I felt needed more exploring. A number of friends mentioned they might be attending the GBBF this year so made a point of inviting myself along.
Being a lager girl the huge variety of British beer has left me somewhat overwhelmed.  And that’s exactly how I felt when I arrived at Earls Court last night.  I think exact phrase was “hollleeeee shiiiiiiiiiittt”.

I had done *some* homework and checked out which breweries were in attendance, focusing mainly on the “new world” bar. I had a quick peek at the real ale list but once again it was far too much to take in.

Sausage fest would be an understatement, not to mention all the beardy weirdies. Being the first of the group to arrive I did feel out of my depth, too much choice (in beer!) and a fair bit of harassment.  A quick bevvie purchase as I was definitely not drunk enough to be dealing with the crowds and the rudeness.

First drink was rather challenging but caught my eye:
Revelation Cat (Italy) 3yo Laphroaig 7%
An interesting choice based purely on the fact that I like beer and I like whisky. What could possibly go wrong?  It definitely smelled like Laphroaig and tasted like a lambic beer with citrus sour smacking you around the back of the head. Essentially a Belgian beer, brewed in Italy and aged in Scottish whisky barrels. A rather international start to the evening.

With the tastebuds shocked into action I decided to go with something a little more familiar:
Sierra Nevada (USA) Pale Ale 5.6%
A great tasting beer so a half pint was purchased. Next mission was to acquire some biltong and find an empty seat to relax in until the men folk arrived. A good plan! It had started emptying out and by the time Mr Haste found me I was in a far better mood.

Dave introduced me to the “horse racing” approach to choosing beer, which worked out well for me. See a beer with a name you like or an interesting logo and just go with it. Dave’s choices weren’t always as pleasant as mine, but I call it beginners luck.

Next up we tried:
Dancing Duck(Derbyshire) Gold 4.7%
Bingham’s (Berkshire) Space Hoppy 5%
Both were rather pleasant.

Now Dave had done a little more homework than me and had a hitlist, so I helped him navigate around the venue, randomly choosing beers at each stop.
Later on we ran into Jason, Dan and the others. There was much revelry and even more beer and at this point I stopped paying too much attention.

I *think* the rest of my night’s beverages went something like this:
Little Creatures (Australia) Pale Ale 5.2%
Murray’s (Australia) Nirvana Pale Ale 4.5%
Cooper’s (Australia) Sparkling Ale 5.8%
Mikkeller (Denmark) Big Worst Barrel Aged Bourbon Edition 19.2% (only a wee bit of Jason’s – OMG!!)
Hitachino Nest (Japan) Red Rice Ale 7%
Thornbridge (Derbyshire) Jaipur IPA 5.9%
Thornbridge (Derbyshire) Craven Silk 4% (infused with Elderflowers)
York (North Yorkshire) Guzzler 3.6%

Dave even managed to try one that smelled of vegetables. More specifically Brussels sprouts, yum.
Then as if by magic there were pork scratchings. The best pork scratchings IN THE WORLD!

The night was drawing to a close and in true “festival” fashion we all managed to lose each other, and I stumbled drunkenly towards the tube station on my own.
By the time Jason tweeted “Mornington Crescent” and waffled on about London buses and flux capacitors, I was tucked up in bed shoving salty meat products in my mouth.

(and yes something resembling Gandhi’s leather sandal was where my tongue should have been when I woke up this morning!)

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