The Great British Beer Festival 2017


At Olympia, London

A great excuse if we really needed one!

On Friday we went to the British Beer Festival at Kensington’s Olympia, we didn’t really know what to expect apart from a lot of beer, but here is what we found.

Having only experienced local and county festivals, where you pay entry and then have twenty or so local beers to try for free or at least a fraction of the price, this was going to be a bit different.

We arranged with a few friends to attend on the Friday and paid for our tickets in advance (£11), they are £14 on the door. There are discounts for CAMRA members and free beer too however as we aren’t that serious about it all, we didn’t bother signing up.

We arrived and walked into the noise, it’s loud, like really loud and the best description I can think of is walking into one of those Wetherspoon’s that used to be a cinema or theatre, vast, high ceilings and just hundreds of people all shouting. There was surprisingly no music but there was the occasional cheering when someone was unlucky enough to drop their glass.

The bars are set up all around the centre of the vast open centre, but first you buy (or hire) a glass, a couple of quid for a 1/3, 1/2 or a pint, you can return it at the end and get your £3 back or keep it as a souvenir .

Then it’s off to sample the choices. Now if you just walk in with no idea what you like, or aren’t really a beer drinker, then you would be overwhelmed, there are literally thousands of beers, ales, wines, perries, ciders and stouts to choose from.

We however came prepared, we had previously done the beer quiz on the GBBF website, we had selected our preferences and downloaded the suggested list. Then we went through the extensive list and selected those we were most interested in.

This did get us a couple of ‘Geek’ references from friends, but they were soon checking out the lists and contemplating their next beers.

To be fair there was over 500 beers on our list and some of them unfortunately had run out before we had got there, which was rather disappointing.

With lists in hand we approached the first bar and found one of our choices. So this post is going to tell you what we tried and what we liked, disliked and what were revelations and what made us gag (some did!)

The bar staff take your glass and fill it to the measure mark, now potentially you could drink your way through pint after pint, as one friend was determined to do, but he ended up very, very drunk quite early on, so the half pint rule is a good one to stick to.

So He (Ash) ordered a 1/2 and handed over a £5 – the prices are not cheap, let us tell you. That 1st half cost £2.80 and some prices were shocking, but we’ll come to that later.

Below are our beers from the day.

We are going to rate them ‘out of 10’ (-/10).

With our individual marks and with our guest reviewer for a few of them too.

A = Ash, B = Bob, C = Colstar

So what did we drink? 

Sonnet 43 – I shall But Loved – 6.8%

This was a bad start,  It was sour and sharp, it may have been strong but it wasn’t good. Bob – It tasted like TCP! with dish soap mixed in.

A- 3/10

B -2/10

Three B’s – Bee Happy – 4.2% –

This was better, a sweet honey smell and a touch of flavour, it could have been more honeyed, but after the, I shall be loved’ it was a refreshing taste.

A – 6/10

B – 6/10

Martland Mills – Artic Convoy – 4.4% –

This was pleasant after the ISBL (above) but it wasn’t anything ‘Wow’.

A – 6/10

B – 6/10

C – 6/10

Stockport – Bitter Lemon – 4.2%

Now Bob is the sharp and sour taste lover of our little group, yet Ash preferred this more, Maybe it was that need to cut the thickness of the dark beers with something fresh and zingy, but it was pleasant and refreshing.

Bob: I think the problem that I had with this was the soapy bubble taste again.

A – 7/10

B – 6.5/10

C – 5.10

Titanic – Plum Porter Grand Reserve – 6.5%

This was good, delicious actually – Our drunk friend started his day at 12pm with a pint of this and raved on about it all day, we only sampled a taste of it, as he was guarding it with his life it seemed.

A – 8/10

C – 8/10

Titanic – Chocolate and Vanilla Stout – 4.5%

This was yummy, I (Ash) am more a vanilla flavour liker, than Bob, but it was good and full of flavour

A – 8/10

B – 8/10

Titanic – Raspberry Wheat – 4.7%

Not bad, but not great, was the consensus.

A – 6/10

B – 6/10

C – 6/10

We wanted to try the bottled beers, that were mostly International, so we headed for the American and New World Bar, but found it was almost completely sold out and had been since Wednesday. But we did find a few to try.

Harpoon – Camp Wannamango – 5.0%

This U.S Mango bottled beer was Bob’s favourite of the entire festival, full of flavour, sweet, but not sickly and really refreshing.

A – This wasn’t bad, very Mango-ey and a nice change to all the stout and porter.

B – yummy!!!!!! 10/10


Heretic – Shallow Grave – 7.0%

£9 NINE POUNDS! For a bottle It was nice but still the import tax on the U.S beers is a joke. It was a black and heavy stout and delicious

A – 8.5/10

B – it was pretty good 8/10

Green Jack – Flower Power – 6.0%

Another one we only got a sip of but it was okay, if a but sour, it was almost stringy in taste!

A – 5/10

We actually weren’t able to wrestle this out of our friends hand so we couldn’t actually give it a taste. However apparently it was “alrighhhttt”

St. Peter’s – Grapefruit Beer – 4.7%

Another potentially good beer, that end up lacking.

Ash – But that said, I had the taste of this beer in my mouth for the rest of the day! But not in a good way.

A – 5/10

B – 7/10

Beowulf – Nordic Noir – 6.0%

Hey if you know me by now, you know if it’s Norwegian, I am going to have to try it, so this had my name all over it and it didn’t disappoint. Good dark beer, with a ton of flavour, this is one I will try to find again.

A – 8.5/10

B – 8/10


First Chop Brewing Arm – Red -4.8%

This was unremarkable, the Manchester Brewery Bottle Bar was another one that was mostly sold out so we were limited to choice, this wouldn’t have been our first choice (that was the Milk Stout, the Original Chocolate Stout, The Peach Iced Tea Pale Ale or the Mango Beach IPA). But they were all gone, so it was this and think we would have been better going elsewhere.

A – 6/10

B – 4/10

Runaway – Winter Saison (Redcurrant Edition) – 6.3%

Another bottled beer, (this one had sediment) which wasn’t great

A – 6/10 

B – 6/10

 C – 6/10

Bedfordshire – Potton Press Pider -.-%

Colstar is the cider drinker of our group and he was determined to find this Perry and Cider crossover and he liked it a lot.

Ash – I tried it and I can honestly say it was truly, amazingly, Vile, I hate Cider (a bad hangover many moons ago, has tainted my tastebuds to apples and cider alike- I thought maybe the pear flavour would make it better, but oh no it was horrid.

A – 1/10

B – 6/10

C- 8/10

Tiny Rebel – Juicy – 4.8%

Ash – If the Perry was bad then Juicy was bleach in a glass, it is poison, never have I tasted something so bitter and disgusting, I couldn’t drink it and returned to the bar to ask them to pour it away, thankfully the little bar and the staff were very accommodating and gave me another beer instead and it wasn’t just me that thought it. Just look at these scores…

A – 0/10

B – 2/10

C – 1/10

Tiny Rebel – Mojito Sour – 4.8%?

Bob – This was yuuuuuummmy! One of the best all day. Beautifully sour and tangy !

Ash – It was lovely after a mouthful of the Juicy! But no this is where our opinions and tastes differ, it was still pretty bad!

Colstar – I will let the score tell you what I thought…

A – 1/10

B – 9/10

C – 0/10

Tiny Rebel – Stay Puft – 5.2%

We saved the best till last – maybe (and the worst!)

Colstar – As stated above I am a Cider drinker and not a real dark beer drinker. But I was curious about the Marshmallow Beer and so I tried 1/2 a pint and wow that was the best beer of the day for me. It was sweet and delicious.

Ash – For my replacement beer I got half a pint of this, having tried Colstar’s and yes it restored my tastebuds and it was deee-li-cious!

Bob – Those two have some weird ideas on what tastes good. It wasn’t terrible but it was so incredibly sweet. I’ll stick to my Mojito thank you very much! errrrkkkkkkk

A – 9/10

B – 6/10

C – 9/10


Well there you have it, a selection of beer and what the British Beer Festival had to offer.

We did have food while there 3 Vegetarian 3 bean Burritos, but they were unremarkable, its blandness and not worth reviewing.

The entertainment wasn’t too great either, a number of pub bands that played to the back wall and had abysmal acoustics.

Would we go back? Maybe if we given Press Passes, but £11 for a ticket that just gets you through the door and nothing else, isn’t worth it and it isn’t cheap, we spent around £50 each on the day. That is a lot of money to spend on beer and on a lot of not very good beer too.

Did you go? what did you think?  What beers did you like?  

4 thoughts on “The Great British Beer Festival 2017

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