I note from Twitter and elsewhere that beer geeks are rightly looking forward to the Great British Beer Festival. And so they should. This extravaganza is, or at least ought to be, the culmination of any British beer buff's year. It is the icing on the cake and indeed a large chunk of the cake itself.
The statistics are no doubt elsewhere, so look them up if you want to, but its sheer size is amazingly impressive. One of the great things to do is walk amongst the place before it is filled with people, just taking it all in. It is simply gobsmacking. For the aficionado, the cask beer list alone should satisfy most tastes and the foreign beer list should have you drooling; the scratchings, curries, sausages, crisps and pies should keep you going and the chance to meet up with friends old and new and talk beery bollocks to each other, should have you beating a path to the door.
Among the 80,000 or so visitors will be the thousand or so CAMRA volunteers. Those that set it all up (look around you and have a think about how much effort that takes) keep you safe, look after beer, drive fork lifts, sell souvenirs, pick up litter, offer you a glass, a programme or directions and of course importantly, perhaps above all, serve you beer. All are giving their time freely and will be on their feet for days. It will hurt, but right now, young and old, they are really looking forward to it too. Without them you wouldn't have a festival to go to, so spare them a kind thought or two. I'll be one and I can tell you hearing about how great it all is, or what a good time you are having, getting a smile or a word of thanks, goes a long, long way towards making it all worthwhile. See you there.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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