Great British Beer Festival: national treasure

By Sonya Hook

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Great british beer, British beer festival, Beer, Great british beer festival

GBBF: starts on 3 August
GBBF: starts on 3 August
The Great British Beer Festival offers innovative opportunities to sample all that's fantastic about our favourite tipple, reports Sonya Hook. The...

The Great British Beer Festival offers innovative opportunities to sample all that's fantastic about our favourite tipple, reports Sonya Hook.

The England football team may have let the country down, but Britain still has something to be proud of: its beer. And where better to celebrate this national product than the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF). The clue is in the name.

The 2010 Festival, which will open its doors on Tuesday 3 August at midday for the trade session, and 5pm for the general public, runs for four days until the doors close at 7pm on Saturday 7 August at 7pm, or when the beer runs out — whichever comes first.

The Tuesday trade session kicks off the festivities with the popular Champion Beer of Britain Awards. After a year of local and regional heats, visitors to the trade session will find out who will walk away with the Best Beer in Britain title.

Last year the winner was York's Rudgate Brewery, which picked up the accolade after its Ruby Mild beer impressed the panel of final judges. Of course the competition includes a range of additional awards, including those celebrating golden ales, bottled beer and bitters.

The Great British Beer Festival is also great in terms of size. Often referred to as the biggest pub in Britain, it attracted a staggering 64,000 beer fans last year into the Earls Court venue. These visitors sampled more than 500 real ales, ciders and perries.

This year is expected to be no different, says the event organisers at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Again there will be more than 500 different real ales on show, plus 100 ciders and perries and a vast range of foreign beers from countries such as Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and the USA, which will appear on the foreign beer bar. CAMRA says the increase in demand from UK consumers for American craft beers means it ordered 50% more beer from the US this time.

And one thing not to be missed this year, on Thursday 5 August, is the 5th anniversary of Hat Day. The event encourages visitors to wear the most outrageous and bizarre headwear they can find, and the most striking are almost guaranteed to find a place in the photo gallery after the festival ends.

Brewer news

Visitors to the GBBF can sample beers from brewers across the country, including those from well-known producers and smaller local brewers.

This year Thwaites is returning after being absent from the event in the past few years. The brewer will have its own brewery bar at the 2010 event.

Wells & Young's will bring along its Bombardier double-decker bus, a popular feature in recent years.

Liberation, formally Jersey brewery, will be making its second appearance, while SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, has its own bar again this year.

Shepherd Neame is also hoping to repeat previous success and will be following up its From Nature to Glass ingredients area exhibition from last year with something equally educational and fun for festival-goers to interact with. The exhibition will be run by Shepherd Neame brewery centre staff, adding a distinctly "hoppy" theme to the festival.

Meanwhile, Marston's has promised it will be exhibiting its revo-lutionary Fast Cask system for punters to learn more about how the new concept works.

Aside from the brewery bars, the 12 main bars, split up regionally in previous years, will now be divided into counties. Each bar will represent a selection of counties in alphabetical order, starting with Aber-deen & Grampian and ending with Worcestershire. All 12 bars will be named after military heroes to provide a symbolic link with the Royal British Legion — this year's GBBF designated charity.

Tutored tastings and events

As always, festival-goers will have the chance to join beer experts for a selection of tutored tastings. This year, renowned experts Roger Protz, Melissa Cole, Jeff Evans, Christine Cryne and a meet-the-brewer session, hosted by SIBA, complete the line-up.

Events this year include "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!" with Roger Protz on Tuesday 3 August at 6pm. Beer expert Protz will taste six beers taken from his best-selling book of the same title. A book-signing will follow the tasting.

On Wednesday 4 August, at 1.30pm and 6pm, the Champion Beers of Britain tasting event will take place, again hosted by Roger Protz, one of the event's lead judges.

Jeff Evans, bottled beer expert and author of the Good Bottled Beer Guide, takes a look at the new wave of breweries that are beginning to produce bottle-conditioned beers, focusing on six that have made a big impression on him. This event, Real Ale in a Bottle: The New Wave, takes place at 1.30pm on Thursday 5 August.

Also on the Thursday, at 6pm, Christine Cryne hosts A British Beer Voyage, where she will take visitors on a beer journey around Britain, sampling six beers from all over the country.

Friday 6 August events include Meet the Brewers at 1.30pm, hosted by SIBA. Visitors will be able to meet six head brewers from breweries all over the country who will present a talk and tasting of one of their signature beers.

Later that day, at 6pm, beer expert Melissa Cole will present The American Revolution, featuring six of the best US beers that are leading the American beer boom. The tasting will feature a selection of styles and strengths to suit all beer fans, says CAMRA.

Related topics: Beer

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