Four weeks from today will be the trade day at The Great British Beer Festival. I will be attending the following two days and looking forward to it as it draws ever nearer.
For the past two years, I have not bought a single English beer or cider. I have bought a few Welsh ciders and Scottish real ales, but it's the 'foreign' beers which really exite me, and what I spend my money on.
The vast majority of the foreign beer list was published this weekend, and what a list. After last year's unfortunate experience with the American cask beers, this year's offerings must be the best ever. Three exiting hoppy beers from Stone and two new APAs from Three Floyds stand out for me, together with an aged porter from Thomas Hooker. Two small brewpubs never seen before in the UK feature also: Opa-Opa Steakhouse and Owen O'Learys.
There are the usual high quality offerings from Belgium, Netherlands and Germany with stand outs for me being: De Graal SloCK (not a spelling mistake); t Hofbrouwerijke Hofblues; Schans Van Vollenhovens Extra Stout; Greif Bräu Annafestbier and the usual lambic offerings from Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen and Girardin.
Additionally there are exciting looking beers from Sudbrack of Brazil (the Eisenbahn range); Yo-Ho from Japan, and Shongwemi of South Africa.
But it's the Scandinavian beers which are really making me salivate. You only have to look on RateBeer to see how the microbrewery revolution is taking on, with a plethora of active raters and some superb beers. From Denmark we have beers from Mikkeller, Nørrebro and Ølfabrikken. Ølfabrikken Porter is the second highest rated Porter in the world and Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast is the second highest rated stout. These therefore are essential beers. From Finland we have two beers from Huvila and three from Plevnan. I had the Imperial Stout from Plevnan last year and it was excellent. From Norway we have three beers each from Haandbryggeriet and Nøgne Ø, both highly respected breweries, and from Sweden, beers from Nils Oscar, Nynäshamns, Oppigårds, Slottskällans, and last but certainly not least Närke whose Kaggen Stormaktsporter is currently the highest rated beer in the World. At the moment I am unsure if it is this version or its weaker brother which will be there. We can only pray.
Looking through these fantastic lists I cannot see myself buying an English beer again this year. The beer orderers have really done us proud.
Excited? You bet I am!!