This week is full of excitement for us because of a single event – The Great Beer British Beer Festival running from the 2nd to the 6th of August. Organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), this great celebration traditionally takes place at Olympia London – the iconic convention centre that had been purposely designed to hold international trade and consumer exhibitions, conferences, sporting events, etc. Olympia has been a destination for the biggest events in art, culture, technologies, entertainment, music, food and drink, et al. This particular beer festival has a heavy accent on real ales/ciders, or top-fermented beers and ciders that are brewed/fermented from traditional ingredients, then conditioned naturally in the containers that are dispensed from, without the assistance of extra carbon dioxide. These are also known as cask-conditioned or bottle-conditioned beers and ciders. However, the event hosts some of the best international and local, non-traditional brews that have proven to be of significant interest.
Our journey began at the Windsor Castle bar. Please note that all bars were named after famous landmarks (except for the cider/perry, gin/wine, the international beer or the individual brewery bars. That bar had between thirty and forty handpumps pouring some of the best British beers that one could taste. After a brief session of tasting some well-known beers by breweries such as XT, Beartown, and Thornbridge, we came up with our favourite – Elderflower by Ashover, an award-winning brewery from North East Derbyshire. The description read that it had been ” brewed with more fresh elderflowers that you can shake a stick at ” and probably that was why this 4% pale ale was so crisp, refreshing and moreish. It perfectly matched the weather and we promised ourselves to be back for more.
Next in line was the Edinburgh Castle bar. There we tasted some masterpieces by Alechemy (Bad Day At The Office – a 4.5% light golden, fruity, citrussy ale with a heavy hoppiness ) and Burning Sky (Aurora 5.6% and Plateau 3.5%) alongside some more conventional beers by Bath Ales and St. Austell. They were all great but the one that impressed us was Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll by Billericay Brewing – a 5% golden hoppy ale that features three American hops added at three different times in the brewing process. An excellent and very memorable hoppy IPA!
As we proceeded, we stopped at the Giant’s Causeway bar. The beers at this bar were served out of kegs and through a more powerful chiller and they were pouring colder and fizzier. Some of the breweries were new to us but we did love everything we tasted. We enjoyed most the Hop Drop by Stroud – a 4.5% tropical bomb hopped with organic Citra and El Dorado hops, as well as Pulping On Your Stereo by Nene Valley Brewery – a 4.5% IPA brewed with the addition of tonnes of oranges and hopped with Mandarina and Citra hops.
The time was nearly 2 o’clock and everyone on our team suffered an extremely increased appetite enhanced by the beer tasting, so we decided to have a break and check out the food stalls that were just opposite the Giant’s Causeway bar. Stay tuned for our next installment where we will review the food choices at the festival in greater detail.
To be continued . . .