Friday, 24 July 2009

The Great British Beer Festival


Now that the beer lists have been published (in the case of cask in the most user unfriendly way CAMRA could devise it seems) the usual moans and groans appear. I have already responded to Pencil and Spoon with some thoughts. The same site also pointed me in the direction of Ratebeer which I usually don't read. There was a particularly thoughtful and balanced debate there, which given the geeky nature of these guys (who make CAMRA look like people with a slight passing interest in beer) and a surprisingly sympathetic outcome, summed up by Silk Tork thus:

"It would also be true to say that the beer list is not designed for us - and that’s fair enough as we can get easy access to the beers that do interest us. The list is produced for the beer drinker who wants a standard bitter somewhere between 4 and 4.4% and who is both the bane of the British brewer and the person without whom the British brewer would go under. While it is possible to run a brewery, record company, publisher, putting out nothing but cutting edge stuff, this is rare and exceptional, and most companies put out the standard fare that brings in the money, and then put out the non-profitable interesting stuff as a sideline. GBBF is for the common man - a beer festival of standard beers, and it appears to work very well doing that. It also manages to include a couple of bars, BSF and Wetherspoon, which cater for those who are looking for the non-standard or brand new. I don’t think that us beer geeks moaning on our internet forums and blogs that GBBF is not full of rare and splendid beers is going to make any difference - all it does it makes us look hostile and even more geeky and out of touch to the organisers when they do look at our forums. "

I don't agree with every word, but broadly he is right. There is something for everyone and I would reckon that only the most geeky geek would find it difficult to find interesting drinks. The BSF list certainly ought to keep them quiet for an hour or two.

I know lots of you will be there. I'll be serving at BSF as usual. Geek or not, come and say hello.

38 comments:

Mark said...

That does sum it up well and it's a balanced view of the festival in general.

While I do find the UK list uninspiring I also know that there will be a lot of good brews there, I just won't know where to find them! And as the comment from Dubbel says, the list is noteable by its absentees more than the inclusions (although maybe this is just my/our centric view of it). I guess it's like the Top 10 music chart - everyone knows who they want at the top but it's based on mass appeal with the odd 'alternative' in there for the niches.

If I'm not happy with the beer that is there then I vote with me feet; my feet will be walking through the doors on at least two days and I'd be there more if I could.

Dubbel said...

Don't get me wrong, GBBF is an immense feat of organisation and with an awe-inspiring number of beers on offer. A few years ago when I was less opinionated than I am now, I'd have been like a pig in shit working my way through that lot - as most visitors undoubtedly will be.

Those breweries/beers that are widely recognised as being at the forefront of British brewing innovation not being invited to the party just smacks a little of the Fuddy Old Hand of CAMRA.

Surely these exciting ales should be embraced, as they are at many local and regional festivals; what better way to attract and retain a younger demographic of drinker?

Dubbel said...

Oh, and see you at the BSF bar again. I'll be relying on you to tell me when I've had enough. :-)

Woolpack Dave said...

I have made my short-list already. Funnily enough most of them are on BSF. Watch out Tandleman, I might just have to try rather too many of those...now how is it put again?....oh yes, complex beers...

But I'll only be able to get to the trade session - I have a pub to run you know - hope to see you there.

Tandleman said...

Complex is fine. Extreme - depends. I'll be trying them too. See you there.

Tandleman said...

Dubbel - "Those breweries/beers that are widely recognised as being at the forefront of British brewing innovation not being invited to the party just smacks a little of the Fuddy Old Hand of CAMRA."

What are these cutting edge breweries that are missing? I reckon Mallinsons is one, Little Ale Cart another, but I don't suspect a conspiracy. I also suspect that neither are on your list. Plenty good brewers are there such as Pictish, Phoenix, Dark Star, Crouch Vale etc, but maybe just being bloody good brewers of beer wouldn't tick enough boxes?

Having said that, I would like to see a bar with more rare and one off brews too. Lack of innovation in choice and the "this is how it's done" is a weakness that really ought to be rectified.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Dave, maybe if you two meet up, you could ask Rudy some questions on brewing science for me? The items below are direct references from crap he's spieled.

1. How is there a "big difference in taste in beer that has been force carbonated."

2. How is "cask conditioned beer already at risk from contamination?" Please explain.

3. Please explain "Cask Conditioned means the beer is already at risk from oxygen and all the breather will do is slow the process by between two and three times depending on how well it was looked after in the first place and the turnover." Please explain how cask conditioning is at risk from oxygen.

4. In reference to cask breathers, please explain, "If you just stick it straight on, you'll get green beer."

5. Explain what your thoughts are on how a breather might effect the cask conditioning process?

6. How will beer "still spoil with the use of a breather if it doesn't turn over."

THERE IS NO SCIENCE BEHIND ANY OF THIS CRAP YOU MAKE UP IN YOUR HEAD!! As you will delete this message, I will address all of these questions on my screenplay.
And anyone else who wants to have a go, have a go.

Dubbel said...

Neither Mallinsons or Little Ale Cart were on my list as I've never had any exposure to either. But now that you single them out as cutting edge, I would be very keen to try them. After all, you were absolutely right about Marble and Pictish (both now regulars at mine and Mark's adopted local here down South - and outselling the local favourite Dark Star).

The rest of the breweries you list are, of course, all excellent and would all appear in my own personal Top 10 of British brewers. It is absolutely right that they should be featured at the GBBF too.

Tandleman said...

Wurst - I am making a rare exception here. I will answer your (out of context) quotes, but the deal is you pack in all the other stuff once and for all. You know what that means.

Abuse will result in deletion. Choose.

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

What exactly do mean by "pack in all the other stuff?" Firstly, can you really admit to yourself that the songs are not funny??? If you already haven't, listen to "I will Imbibe." If it upsets you that much and being that I'm not a terribly mean, or cruel person, I will tone it down considerably.

Ok, regarding the beer thing. Do you want to discuss here, or should we discuss via email?

Tandleman said...

1. How is there a "big difference in taste in beer that has been force carbonated."

The context is cask conditioned beer at around 1.5 atmospheres and keg at around 2.5 to 3. That makes it too gassy for most cask drinkers. Of course you can carbonate to 1.5 too but why do this in the brewery and call it cask? It wouldn't be. Effectively it is brewery conditioned.(In case you believe I think otherwise, CO2 is CO2 is CO2.)

2. How is "cask conditioned beer already at risk from contamination?" Please explain.

My context again is beer that is already vented (exposed to air)to condition. That is why.

3. Please explain "Cask Conditioned means the beer is already at risk from oxygen and all the breather will do is slow the process by between two and three times depending on how well it was looked after in the first place and the turnover." Please explain how cask conditioning is at risk from oxygen.

See above

4. In reference to cask breathers, please explain, "If you just stick it straight on, you'll get green beer."

If you don't vent the beer and expose it to air (even though there is a CO2 layer above the beer),what you have is effectively immature beer. Cask beer is what it is because of how it is presented - warts and all. Air and all.

5. Explain what your thoughts are on how a breather might effect the cask conditioning process?

To me if you apply the breather before conditioning the beer in the traditional way, the point is moot.

6. How will beer "still spoil with the use of a breather if it doesn't turn over."

Because of staling compounds already in the beer such as carbonyls and linoleic acid. Even keg beer stales after a time.

What you seem to be trying to do - and it's fair enough in one sense - is replicate cask ale artificially. Scientifically you can do this to an extent, but it won't be cask matured beer.

So you are right in a way, but what you are proposing isn't cask beer. It is some kind of hybrid. Again fair enough, but I like my cask beer the way it has always been done - with the added bonus of refrigeration of course.

I suppose your angle is to replace the normal conditioning process with a breather. Fine. But it isn't cask conditioned any more to my way of thinking. It is just unpasteurised keg beer.

Anyway please don't deconstruct what I say any more on this one. I've said all I have to say.We'd end up going on forever and life's just too short.

I'm off for a pint.

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

I would like to ask a question. What does exposing beer to air have to do with conditioning? The conditioning(natural carbonation) takes place inside the cask. I don't think that exposing the cask to air benefits conditioning in any way. In fact, it will slowly lose condition.

Anon E Mouse (Becuase you hold grudges and are persistent) said...

I sincerely hope that visiting that BSF bar won't involve talking to you. Because to do so would be awful. Please confirm you aren't intending to impose your banal, overbearing and plebian presence on all those who want to try international beers and chat to people who aren't consumed by your prejudices. PLEASE?

Tandleman said...

Don't read this stuff then and don't come and talk to me. Simples.

Tandleman said...

Wurst - I think I've said it really. The point is cask beer is fresh, natural and needs to be drunk quickly. Of course you can do other things to it to extend its life, but it won't really be cask conditioned any more. That's my point. Why bother with a secondary fermentation when you can just brewery condition it? Your "cask" would never be open to air. It's just keg then surely? No worse for that maybe, but not cc as most accept it.

There is a school of thought - I'm unsure about it - that says the beer improves as it matures in the cask and gets a little bit of oxygen in it. Technically that's daft, but, well, that's cask for you.

So to sum up. Cask with all it faults or not cask. That's it now I reckon.

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Well, here we are. I am just trying to point out some holes in your arguments. You have not addressed any of the more emotional items I've brought up. If anyone in the brewing industry reads your blog and believes I'm wrong on any of the stuff I've mentioned, they can address me over at APRK.

I'm brewing next week. Hoppy, summer ale hopped with First Gold & Amarillo, finished with Centennial. Guess what? It'll be conditioned via a secondary fermentation and served on my Angram beer engine! Even exposed to air!! APRK strives to hit a balance of new world technology(Proper Real Keg) and old world classics(cask ale).

You should lighten up A LOT! If some clown(troll) was to write lyrics about me and put them over Karaoke tracks, I'd laugh my arse off. Regardless of what the lyrical content is about. I don't know why you haven't already written(or recorded) some awful shit about me. Yes, I would find it hilarious!

Gazza Prescott said...

This wurst bloke really is trying to prove he's a total twat. I'd love to see his beer CV as he seems to know nothing about cask ale at all! if he doesn't know why beer should be vented and conditioned via exposure to oxygen before the breather is applied then he should go and work in a proper pub to learn some facts rather than gibbering about things he plainly knows fuck all about.

Some trolls are funny, but he's one of those who knows nothing and so is not worthy of response.

As for the GBBF list, the UK one is way to predictable and the foreign one is excellent, but I'll not be wasting my money going down to Laarndan as by the time I've got there, got in, got beer and got a hotel I'd have spent the best part of £200 or so...

Gazza Prescott said...

And I'll pass on your comments to Richard of Little Ale Cart when I see him tomorrow. His 50th brew, Green Arrow, is his best yet IMO - absolutely tonnes of juicy hops in there. Plus I might be brewing my 20,000th at Tara's in a couple of months, expect something special!!

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Love it!! I need more input from you Herr Prescott! I'm working on a special track just for you!

Hey, are you one of those flat earth people too? I was just pulling Rudy's leg on the conditioning thing. Everyone knows that the best conditioning takes places after the porous spile has been removed!!

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Forgot to add, twat is a bit old hat. I prefer septic prick, or is that too southern??

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Forgot something in one of my replies. How does one condition beer via exposure to oxygen?

Tandleman said...

Forget that. Get that all that shit about me off your site as agreed. No point of having a one way civilised discussion.

Or is your word worth nothing?

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

I said I'd "tone it down considerably." That was until your mate unleashed a fury on me. The use of "twat" is a tad worse than troll or bully. Can I swap your images with his and create a new villain?
This is the second time one of your pals has unloaded on me. The first being John Clarke. I am open to discussions, without third party interference.

Tandleman said...

Fuck all to do with me. What's your word worth?

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

What part of "tone it down considerably" don't you understand? I notice in much of our conversations, you don't answer specific questions. You enjoy that your mate came to your rescue to belittle me. That has everything to do with you.

So how does one condition beer via exposure to oxygen?

captain jack said...

You're all boring the fucking arse off me

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Mr. captain jack, sincere apologies. This is an unusual medium to be discussing issues of this nature. Bare with us.

Tandleman said...

The discussion is over. All questions have been answered.

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Ok, lesson learned.

Tandleman said...

Peace or what? Last chance.

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

This is the deal. I have two tracks remaining that I recorded. I want to have a Bon Voyage Die Talismann week, that starts tomorrow. At the end of the week, Friday, I have my proper, real nudes, then that's it.
My question to you is do want the album, which is 7 tracks to be available? If you're opposed, I will not have it available. In exchange, you stop calling me a troll, bully and whatever else you came up with. You also talk relatively kind about me, so I don't get killed if I ever visit your neck of the woods. Thoughts?

captain jack said...

For fucks sake. What the hell are you two about? This used to be a half decent blog but if its now all about a lovers tiff then no wonder no one else is bothering.

Tandleman said...

Cap'n - get some perspective. What's a few argumentative posts among thousands of others which aren't.

It isn't my wish either though. That's why I'm trying to sort it.

So on that basis. Fine Sausage.

Tom Fryer said...

I haven't been commenting on blogs much recently (busy again), but I'll definitely catch up with you at the GBBF trade session next Tuesday. See you there!

Wurst/Whorst-Internet troll, bully, mischief maker, CEO APRK said...

Alright then. I'll send you off with style and some grace.

Cooking Lager said...

The problem here is ale. It's a violent and aggresive drink and makes people argue. Why not chill out with a cool refreshing ice cold and fizzy proper real cooking lager. Proper beer as beer should be. The world will look different and you'll see the qualities in each other that can forge a friendship.

Go for a super chilled Foster's, lads and super chill.

Tandleman said...

I saw a banner outside a recently re-opened pub that offered McEwan's Lager at £2 a pint. I thought they'd de-listed it, but maybe that'll do?

Barm said...

It's been "re-launched", but I'm not sure whether or not that means they ever actually stopped brewing it.