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    Saturday, 11 August 2007

    GBBF 2007 - A Few Comments

    This year was the 30th Great British Beer Festival, and was the second to be held at the larger venue of Earls Court. Last year there was a lot of criticism of the new venue. People described it as too dark and soulless and complained that toilet facilities were seriously lacking. Complaints were made about beer prices and that programmes cost £1 whereas they had always previously been free of charge. Apart from not agreeing with the programme charge I didn't accept the other arguments. Yes, there were queues for the toilets but there are queues at every beer festival and with the volume of visitors there will inevitably be queues at GBBF. The other annual complaint is that the British Beer range is unexciting; I do sympathise with that assessment but as the Foreign beer range is so good, I am not bothered.

    This year there have been far less complaints. There were allegedly more toilets and indeed the queues were far shorter. CAMRA members got their programmes for free, and the British beer range seemed more exciting with a larger amount of porters and stouts than we've seen for a number of years, as opposed to the large amount of brown bitters and golden ales which really have dominated the list recently. Even the choice of Champion Beer Of Britain seemed to be a more enterprising choice than in many years.

    Anyway, enough about complaints and criticisms. I always enjoy GBBF. It's a great opportunity to meet up with fellow beer lovers and this year I spent time with RateBeerians from England, Scotland, Canada, Finland and Denmark. I drank loads of superb beers. The bottled selection from Scandinavia was fantastically sourced, and the US cask beers were a treat especially after all the ups and downs about their arrival. The selection of ciders and perries was excellent, and there was a large enough range of real ales to keep anyone happy. The food was good and the entertainment was not intrusive. There's a lot of talk about GBBF being Londoncentric and I guess it would be nice if it wasn't in London every year, but that criticism could be aimed at numerous organizations. Of all the beers I tried the accolade of Beer Of The Festival goes to Nils Oscar Imperial Stout from Sweden with Ølfabrikken Porter from Denmark not far behind. However I bought some beers home which I expect to be even better but that will be another entry.

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