Apologies that my write up of the Pigs Ear Beer Festival is so delayed. I actually went on Tuesday, the first day. This is normally the date that the most beers are available and, if the festival is open all day, is generally the best day to go.
I gave myself plenty of time to get there not really knowing that part of the World so well. In fact I arrived so early that I would have been first in the queue had I not spotted the Hackney Museum over the road, where I then spent a quarter of an hour taking in the exhibits (it's not the biggest museum in the World).
So, having drawn the line of geekdom as being front of a beer festival queue, I found myself third (much better) when I returned. My friend Ian turned up pretty soon after and we waited for the advertized opening time of noon.
As is always the case with London beer festivals though, the doors didn't open until 10 past. We eagerly bound up the stairs and grabbed a table near the foreign bar and worked out our action plan, whilst waiting for Chris to turn up also.
It's not unusual for criticism to be levelled as a beer festival, indeed none of them are perfect, and where Pigs Ear disappointed was the number of cask ales which were unavailable for whatever reason. The list is excellent and pretty full of new beers and new breweries, but only about half of the 140 beers advertized were actually on. Don't get me wrong, 70 beers is good, but when you are expecting over 100 then it's not so impressive.
The foreign list though was superb and all beers were available (just a couple of replacements), and 20 or so German beers added late to the list, were an added bonus.
The condition of the cask beer was generally very good. Of particular good quality were Dunham Massey Big Tree, a crisp crunchy English bitter and Goode-Brown Neck Oil Porter, a porter from an Essex homebrewer who may or may not be going commercial!. We also tried this year's version of Pitfield Night On Mare Street which last year was a quite delicious 14% Barley Wine. It's 14.2% this year and entitled Night On Mare Street 2. This wasn't as good as last year but still powerfully drinkable and very smooth.
The best beers though were from overseas.3 Fonteinen Doesjel is a beautifully funky Gueuze typical of the producer with lovely sour lemon acidity, whilst Ølfabrikken Brown Ale was almost as good as Mikkeller Jackie Brown which I chose for my fantasy beer fridge. Additionally I bought a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Hommage to take home. This is a beer I was crazy enough to miss at GBBF.
I did have a good time in spite of the slight moan. It was my first big festival in over three months, a downpoint being its distance from home. I had to leave before other bloggers arrived unfortunately so missed the chance of meeting them for a good old chinwag. You can read their thoughts here, and here (with presumably more to come), and no doubt here when The Beer Nut gets a chance. Boak and Bailey went later in the week.