Great British Beer Festival 2006

Published on 5 August 2006 in , ,

Another day, another year, another trip to the Great British Beer Festival – the UK’s biggest pub!

Unlike last years trip, we only went for Friday evening, which in a way, I regret. The fact is that there is simply too much choice to try! And it also has to be said that it’s a lot easier to get served in the daytime. Still we got there around 5:45, and were joined later on by Jacko.

This year the festival moved to Earls Court, which for my money, isn’t as nice a venue as Olympia. It’s also much bigger, and it looks like there’s some learning to be had there for most of the CAMRA bars had all but run out of beer by 8pm – earlier than last year. It also seemed like there were a lot more queues – Earls Court had given bigger capacity, but were there enough volunteers manning the pumps to cope? Saying that, as a CAMRA member, did I volunteer to help out? Hmm… Touché.

A half of XB

The lack of beer drove us towards the Brewery run bars which seemed to be weathering the beer shortage a lot better. Whilst I can’t deny I had some lovely halves from those bars (having the annual drink of Theakston’s XB whilst I was at it), it would have been nice to see a few special brews on sale – at the Ealing Beer Fest a few years ago, there were special versions of London Pride (Export version) and a cask version of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout on sale – neither normally available. I know breweries wish to show off their normal wares, but you wonder if there couldn’t be a bit of both.

There was no one standout beer for me this year although I have to say I was very impressed with McMullen’s Harvest Moon – I’m not a huge fan of McMullen’s beers, but this one went down a real treat. Their bar also proclaimed “Thank You CAMRA” and that they were here to stay – no doubt a reference to the rather messy attempted breakup of the company by some of its shareholders, which thankfully they survived. Three cheers to independent family brewery’s!

Other notable beers had to be Sparkey’s Monday Night Mild, Big Lamp’s wonderfully chewy Summerhill Stout, St Austell’s lovely Black Prince and Cains’ Creamy Stout. You might guess that I managed to have not too many golden and strawy beers, unlike last year.

This year also say the much heralded introduction of a third pint glass – I couldn’t work out if they were so popular they’d all sold out before we arrived, or if they were unpopular. It took several hours until I spotted one being used (which saw me very unsuitably point to the person using it!)

Anyway, for those interested, here’s the beers we drank, in order of drinkage.

Andrew’s beers
Half no. Brewery Beer Bar bought at
1 Orkells MacLir North West
2 Theakston XB Theakston
3 Teignworthy Old Moggie Wales and West
4 Naylor’s Sparky’s Monday Night Mild Bar Nouveau
5 Big Lamp Summerhill Stout North East
6 St Austell Black Prince St Austell
7 Cains Creamy Stout Cains
8 Theakston Old Perculiar Theakston
9 McMullen Harvest Moon McMullen
Catherine’s Beers
Half no. Brewery Beer Bar bought at
1 Pictish Alchemist North West
2 Theakston Mild Theakston
3 Glastonbury Mystery Tor Wales and West
4 Brown Cow Bitter North East
5 Cains Rasiin Beer Cains
6 Cains Rasin Beer (again!) Cains

And finally, big respect to the tombola for another top quality prize. Last year it was a badge with “Beer” written on it. This year, a Young’s Triple ‘A’ pump clip!

Triple A pump clip

No idea on earth what I’m going to do with it – perhaps I should buy a handpump to put it on…

Still it is a bit of history – Young;s didn’t brew Triple ‘A’ for very long and these days it’s only available in keg form.

Anyway, if you’d like to see the pictures, check them out at on my flickr pages