Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Great British Beer Festival - Our Festival Picks

The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is often described as the world's largest pub, and with 55,000 people sampling over 800 beers, ciders and perries it's easy to see why. There's a real buzz about the hall, great atmosphere, and most importantly some amazing drinks to whet your appetite.

Thwaites traditional horse and trap making its way to GBBF

Here are our picks of this year's festival (although please bear in mind that we didn't get anywhere near trying all 800 on offer!).


Brains Atlantic White, 6.0%

From the Brains Craft Brewery, a blend of a traditional Belgian Wit with a hoppy American IPA. Slightly cloudy, pale amber in colour, funky and wheaty to taste with a refreshing zing from the US hops. Normally I don't love hoppy US IPAs but in this context I felt it works really well, the wheat taking the bitter edge off the hops and mellowing out the harsh citrus. A very refreshing tipple, spicy with coriander, and doesn't taste like it's on the high side at 6.0%. Brains recommend serving this with shellfish, and I think this would work fantastically well with a big steaming bowl of mussels. This was our beer of the festival.

Brains Brewery Bar

Girardin Oud Lambic, 5%

Golden amber in colour, and smells/tastes exactly as you'd expect from a quality gueuze, a huge sour hit, farmyardy, with a bitter edge to it. You can taste the oak from the barrel aging, it's lightly sparkling, and overwhelmingly sour. A must for all lambic fans, especially after the disappointment of finding out the Cantillon Fou' Foune wasn't available that day.

Offbeat Raspberry Way Out Wheat, 4.5%

Billed as a slightly sweet wheat beer brewed with raspberries I was intrigued to taste this one. It's a really good, well balanced wheat beer, but there's a disappointing lack of raspberries on the taste. Having said that, it is a really tasty and refreshing brew, with a sweet fruitiness and wheaty, with a rich creamy mouthfeel, and over time the fruit/raspberry flavours grow as you drink. Hoppier than I'd have expected, but nicely balanced.



Oliver's Cider, 6%
and 
Oliver's Perry, 6%

Oliver's cider was brought to our attention via The Beertalkers' cider vs beer debate. Both the cider and perry we tasted were very good, authentic, flat, traditional in flavour, and dry. The perry is very refreshing, and surprisingly non alcoholic in taste. We both felt the cider stood out the most, being more farmyardy and oaky almost.Both are delicious, and I look forward to trying more!

Sierra Nevada Ovila Belgium Saison with Mandarins and Peppercorns, 7.5%

Towards the end of the evening, and an unexpected taster as something else I'd been after had run out. This was a lovely refreshing saison, high in alcohol, but it's not obvious when you taste it. It's fruity, tangy, and not too fizzy, with coriander and hops - but not crazy on the hops, nicely balanced and slightly spicy.

So, if you happen to be heading over to GBBF over the next couple of days then enjoy!



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