A Day in Mecca or is it spelt GBBF?!

We want to tell you a secret…

We like Beer!!

What do you mean you already know? Well then you’ll understand our happiness at hearing that The Great British Beer Festival was back on in real, not virtually once again this year and we just had to go, well we had to do it for you, of course!!

The Kensington Olympia is still under reconstruction but that didn’t stop CAMRA and the GBBF organising the piss-up of all piss ups! Four days of beer swelling, supping and a lot of consuming of new and old favourites, delicious and unique (at times) flavoured Porters, Stouts, Darks, Milds, blondes, IPA’s, NEIPA’s, WCIPA’s AUSIPA’s, APA’s, Bruins, Sours, Ciders, Barley Wines and even Gin (Why?) were all gathered under one massive glass domed roof and we among 10,000 other like minded souls set forth to consume our fair share.

Tickets this year were £20 each and the slight increase in price got you a glass included (previously it was paid separately) and two tokens for 2 half pints (more on that in a moment). We waited eagerly, checking the lists of beers to be available and to see which breweries would be present. This took its time and only the week before did a list appear, but we perused and scoured the list looking for favourite brewers and personal preferences, Bob is a lover of Sours, drinks so sharp and sour they steal your soul along with all moisture in your body! Ash is the polar opposite Dark and sweet, bitter stouts and porters light his world. We were sad to see Tiny Rebel were missing from the lists as we discovered them on our first GBBF visit and love their quirky take on new beers, but alas they were not there.

Doors opened at 12pm but we turned up about 3.30, we didn’t want to look to eager or sad! We weren’t going to chase down the hall to get the 18% beer and consume three pints, (yes we know him!!)

With the exhibition centre under development there is a walk from the station, something of a struggle for many of the patrons, there are a lot of rotund ladies and gents at this event, clearly a life testing these fine ales is not done without sacrifice to ones waistline! But inside and tickets scanned we were presented with a token (A new detail this time round), this blue plastic disc was handed over to the next clerk in exchange for a choice of one of three official glasses, Pint, Half or bowl wine glass like, each with the Sumer of Beer Logo embossed on it. We went for the bowl and were also handed the two vouchers for 2 half pints. Then we set off.

The hall is huge as you will know if you have ever been inside Olympia and if you haven’t…

There are long bars done either side of the hall and the same in the centre and the same in the other room and two more down the centres too, plus additional small bars from some of the bigger name breweries who want to do something a bit different or stand out. all around are rows and rows of picnic table benches, cos its a lot of work carrying all these beers and all that weight around, we need somewhere to rest our weary bones and savour the beer of choice.

There isn’t a lot to do, there is a stage where some ‘interesting’ bands played during the day, but with the general volume of the echoey hall you can’t really hear them too well (that may be a blessing!) There is a games corner, to try your luck at skittles, Table Football and Shove Halfpenny (pronounce, Haipny!) and the Brewery Shop that sells 2nd hand t-shirts, coasters, and other parafinalia, but we were there for the beer!

We got out our list, our carefully chosen sheet with the results of our scouring of the list that finally went up the night before and we picked our first winner. Now as we say, we love our beer, but for the two of us that does mean very, very different things, Bob is a sours drinker (why, God only knows!), the more tart, sour, vomit like the better!! Ash is a stouts and darks drinker, rich, thick, strong beers with a sweet and/or bitter taste, so our choices often clash and our tastebuds suffer under each others preferences. But we did try each others and will give our rating for both (out of 10). Bob first and then Ash.

So we headed to the respected bars, each beer is at a specific bar, The International Bar, The Irish Bar, The New World Bar, The Statue of Liberty Bar…

This is when we discovered that the voucher for free beer only works with British Beer and so we had to pay for her first beer. We soon discovered that the voucher also only worked on beer under 5%. So to clarify the voucher was only for weak beer from this country, xenophobia reigns at the beer festival just like everywhere else is this god forsaken country!

Anyway the beers…

Bob’s Beers

Pohjala (from Estonia)’s Orange Gose (Sour)5.5%.

B – 5/10 – Wasn’t bad but wasn’t stand outish either.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

A – 3/10 – I don’t remember this at all writing this.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Matuska Brewery’s (Czech Rep) Sunrise Sour 5%.

B – 9/10 – Really fruity not overly sour but just right!

Rating: 9 out of 10.

A – 3.5/10 – Not overly sour but it was more of a palette cleanser.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10.

Siren Craft (UK) Fruited Sour – 7% (Specialty)

B – 4/10 – This was drinkable but left a weird battery acid aftertaste hence the low rating.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

A – 0/10 – Vile! – I don’t understand why anyone would drink this, it draws all the moisture from my mouth.

Rating: 0 out of 10.

Verzet Brewery (Belguim) Old Bruin Cherry 6%.

B – 0/10 – This was undrinkable and expensive too, at first it tasted of cheese, then rotten flesh and then just soured apples in decaying acid. It was nasty!

Rating: 0 out of 10.

A – Minus 100 – Vomit in a glass! – At what point does someone think this is nice, we could sell this? Surely it should have been thrown away as it was clearly a batch that was spoiled.

Rating: 0 out of 10.

Wild Card (UK) Cuvee Saison 6.7% Barrel Aged Project

B – 8/10 – Yum!!

Rating: 8 out of 10.

A – 3/10 – This was ok, it’s not great, but a 1/3 of a pint after a night of heavy stouts would cleanse the palette.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Fyne Ales – Friends Mango (Sour) Speciality 4.7%

B – 7.5/10 – Really easy to drink but wasn’t as punchy as it looked or as thick, I expected a kind of smoothie taste.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

A – 2.5/10 – This was disappointing, it poured really thick and looked really good, it just was too sour and yucky.

Rating: 2.5 out of 10.

Ash’s Beers

Fixed Wheel’s Bleakheath (Stout) a 5%.

This is one of the prize winners of this year’s festival and the verdict…

B – 0/10 – Nasty! – Overly bubbly and fizzy with no real discernible flavor

Rating: 0 out of 10.

A – 5/10 – The Stout was pretty mild and pretty bland really, a little thin in texture and watery.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Atom – Phase Transition 5.2%

B – 3/10 –

Rating: 3 out of 10.

A – 10/10 – This is like a Bounty Bar smoothie, chocolate and coconut, with a thick texture and rich taste -Best beer of the day!

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Exeter Brewery (UK)Darkness 5.1% (Stout)

B – 0/10 –

Rating: 0 out of 10.

A – 8/10 – A good flavour and thickness.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Gorilla (UK) Vanilla Gorilla 5% (Stout/Porter)

B – 1/10 –

Rating: 1 out of 10.

A – 7/10 – It’s Smooth

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Loddon (UK) Hocus Pocus 4.6% (Dark Ale)

B – 5/10 – Not Great

Rating: 5 out of 10.

A – 9/10 – A real treat!

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Ossett (UK) Voodoo Chocolate 5% (Stout)

B – 2/10 – I really couldn’t taste the orange at all but it wasn’t quite as sickly sweet as Ash’s normal choice.

Rating: 2 out of 10.

A – 7.5/10 – A real Surprise I wasn’t expecting such a taste, it could have been more orangey!

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Kereru (NZ) Blueberry Stout 9%

B – 6/10 – This is probably the best drink Ash drank all day

Rating: 6 out of 10.

A – 9/10 – This was the most I spent on a beer all day but it was really, REALLY nice. Super smooth and thick and you could really taste the blueberry flavour without it being overpowering.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Well that’s the beer, there was also a fair selection of foods on offer and most had a veggie/vegan option – which is more than the recently visited Vegan Market – but that said, the prices were extortionately over priced, £10 for a small Falafel or Halloumi Wrap, (when we say small we mean 3 pieces of halloumi). We should have just filled ourselves up with Cornish Pasties instead, at £5 they were more filling and nicer too.

Well there you go for another year, The Great British Beer Festival is what it is, a great place to try lots of new beers from all over the place, some great, some… not! We hope you like this post and all the rest and hope you’ll come back next week for something completely different And if you want to see us in action you can watch our day at the GBBF here on our latest YouTube Video…

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