Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Great British Beer Festival Foreign Beer Preview

With the Great British Beer Festival only 2 weeks away now I feel it's probably time to do some sort of preview.  Now the foreign beer and cider lists have been announced I'm starting to get suitably moist over the prospect of 4 days of beer fuelled fun and games. As a volunteer I’ll be able to, in exchange for a few days of my time, be able to sample the large range of beers on offer for free.

When I first saw the Foreign Beer list (http://gbbf.camra.org.uk/foreignbeers) I have to admit I was only inches away from having an accident in my pants. The addition of a bar purely for American beer is, in my view, a great idea. Those crafty brewers across the pond are making some of the most exciting and tasty beers around at the moment and bar a trip over there it is generally quite hard to find a selection half as good as this anywhere else. The absolutely staggering list of IPA style beers that are currently or will in the next few days make their trip across the Atlantic is second to none and I for one cannot wait to get stuck in and try some. So many of the beers are using what I have to say is my favourite hop combination Chinook, Cascade and Centennial; the 3 C’s as they’re sometime known. Of the huge range of beers listed some of the ones I’m most excited about include Ballast Point’s Habanero Sculpin IPA; a 7% version of their Gold Medal winning IPA with habanero peppers added into the cask. This should be a fiery little number. I can’t wait to get stuck into both the Habanero and original versions of this. Also a cracker on the list is Boulder’s Mojo IPA which boasts a heavy use of Amarillo hops for a “big citrus flavour”. Yummy! Harpoon’s IPA is a cracker that I’ve had before from the bottle and can’t wait to taste on draught. Marshall Wharf’s Big Twitch IPA weighs in at a hefty 9% but is claimed to be “surprisingly drinkable”. Now I’ve had these high strength IPA’s before and sometimes “surprisingly drinkable” is a one stop shop to stumbling home at 4am, dignity residing somewhere in a London gutter with greasy kebab in hand. Port Brewing Company’s Wipeout IPA and the Wipeout IPA with Cascade, both at 7%, should also be a particularly scrumptious experience. Finally, Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA, a 7.2% “bold and assertive” IPA, should also be particularly yummy if their Pale Ale is anything to go by. With the vast majority of these American beers having ABV’s of above 5% and a fair few above 7% that should get the beer fun police down at number 10 raging suitably.

The news that the deal between CAMRA and BrewDog, that would have meant there being a BrewDog bar selling keg beer, has broken down is a real shame. I was quite looking forward to trying some of BrewDog’s rarer beers that I haven’t been able to find yet. James from BrewDog has outlined his view of the cancellation in a blog post on their website http://www.brewdog.com/blog-article/camra-cancels-brewdogs-gbbf-bar. Now I don’t really know what is true and what is BrewDog spin but I think this could easily descend into a he said she said argument. As a CAMRA member it does anger me slightly that all this will do is give other bloggers more evidence with which to tar the organisation as an old man’s club who all have beards, beer bellies and only want beers made with Fuggles and Golding. Now as a 21 year old CAMRA member yes I do often bring the average age at events down by a good few years but I do think that BrewDog need to stop thinking of this as a war between craft beer and real ale. If they continue down this path then they may end up isolating a large swathe of their customers; CAMRA members who, shockingly, also like keg beer. It’s not illegal to be a CAMRA member and drink keg beer remember. In the end though, I hope that these 2 organisations can resolve their differences because the only people losing out here are the consumers.

Well that was a long article. Anyway, I’ll also be doing a little preview of the British Beer list when it is released so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll also be blogging live on Twitter throughout the whole event so follow me on @colinhill01 if you’re interested in my inane inebriated ramblings.

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