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The Great British Beer Festival

by Helen Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 11:33:13 AM EST

Not so long ago I wrote about the London Drinker beer festival to give some idea of what goes on at a regional festival. So it was inevitable that I document something of the big one, the Great British beer festival. To give you an idea of the scale, the American bar had 100 different US beers on draught (that's draft in American) from the cask. With the exception of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, that makes it the largest selection of American beer anywhere. And that's just one of the bars.


Anyhow, here's a few panorama's to give you an idea of the scale.

This is the US beer bar where I spent far too much of my time drinking extremely hoppy concoctions of which their brewers are justifiably proud.

and the other end

I enjoyed the Willimantic Downtown Willi India Dark Ale as it was a twist on the idea of an India Pale Ale, but with a few dark malts for added complexity. Sadly I tried it again the day after and it had lost a lot in the night. It happens, real ale changes; for good and ill. I also enjoyed the serious hop thwack of Lost Abbey's Mongo but my favourite was Portmouth brewery's Bottle Rocket IPA. I should also give an honourable mention for Boston Beer Works - Fenway Brewery's Barrel Aged Habanero black IPA which my notes state was akin to pushing a cactus into my mouth.

There was also the Czech and German bar where I indulged my love of Schlenkerla Rauschbier. If it is available on draught, I simply have to have some.

They also had unpasteurised, unfiltered beers from both the Budweiser and Bernard breweries of the Czech Republic. Due to the difficulties of keeping these beers presentable because of their restricted shelf life (4 - 5 days) these are extremely difficult to find even in their native land, so it's was an unmissable opportuntity to have them here. I'd like to report that they were as wonderful as the similar Pilsner Urquell beer was when I had it, but to be honest I was underwhelmed by them. Still you have to try.

And of course, there were the British beer bars, featuring beers from such diverse places as the Channel Islands, Ulster and the Isle of Man all the way up to the far north Orkney Islands. There were 14 bars like this.

In addition there were various bars that were sponsored by breweries. The beers are still those selected by CAMRA, but the brewery gets the chance to do some marketing.

I am especially fond of the Grousebeater beer from Theaksons, which is normally restricted to pubs near the brewery, so it was nice to get a half of it.

And those who drink cider were well catered for...

Personally I don't care for British cider, preferring Normandy cider but I'm quite fond of Perry. However, seeing as most people you see heavily involved with the cider side of CAMRA seem to have warts or something strange about them, I tend to keep my distance in case it's catching ;-)) btw, that scale of cider from very sweet to very dry should really go from "I-can't-believe-you-expect-me-to-drink-this" to "Banned by the Geneva Convention" imo.

And of course there's food, lots and lots of it.

And interesting beer related paraphenalia and T-shirts

and finally, just to annoy Drew.

There was also a display on the brewing process, but I'll hold those for another diary I'll have the photos for in late September when I go to the Hop Back brewery.

Display:
How does this actually work?  If you go to a Comic Con or a Sci Fi Con you walk around in your costume, buy some crap, and that's it.  How do you drink alcohol, get royally sedated, and not fall down or get a bunch of fights breaking out?  Do patrons just taste and spit?  Is it like a wine tasting?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 12:07:55 PM EST
In the UK you are only legally allowed to sell beer in 1/3, 1/2 or full pints. so you have to buy 1/3 at least.

Unlike wine, you can't taste and spit beer because bitter flavours, which are a major component of beer, are only experienced in the back of the throat, so you have to swallow.

As for the rest of it, although being drunk is an occupational hazard, there's a lot less of it than you'd expect. Real ale drinkers tend to be a bit less animal-intent on getting shit-faced wasted, but enjoy the journey and take their time. things have improved, I remember the first beer festival which had all day drinking (a recent innovation in the UK) and it was mayhem because nobody had any practice in pacing themselves and the place was just awash with the collapsed. Now it's much rarer, more civilised.

As for fights, hmm there are a large number of stewards around to spot trouble before it happens and some whom are specialists in dealing with issues if they get out of hand. that said I can't remember any stories of anything ever really kicking off at a festival. Fighters are a different crowd, CAMRA attracts a better class of pisshead.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 12:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yesterday was International Beer Day. Incidentally. Gawker promotes auspicious historical CHART PRON from balloonjuice to front page LIST.

I am not persuaded however by VALUE ADDED attributed to pork scratchings. Perhaps MUSIC enhanced the perceived value of the event and particular inventories?

Please advise.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 12:32:50 PM EST
Hee, I didn't actually listen to much music while I was there. The venue is large enough that in order to listen to the music on offer you actually have to go to the stage area as otherwise it gets drowned out.

I heard a bit of Fret and fiddle, is all



keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 01:03:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Real ale drinkers tend to be a bit less animal-intent on getting shit-faced wasted, but enjoy the journey and take their time.

This is one of those "sounds good theoretically" but for me alcohol has a feedback loop that destroys all sober planning.  I may start out saying "go slow or only one" but the alcohol kicks in and the good sense goes out the window.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 01:20:21 PM EST
Yea, as I say, getting drunk is an occupational hazard. But it doesn't mean you have to be an arsehole when you get there.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 01:35:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure Twank would be the perfect gentleman :-)

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 01:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On one occasion ... I almost had a pool cue shoved up my nose.  And I was laughing my ass off the whole time.  Not good.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Aug 6th, 2010 at 06:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reality about lay beer experts is that they can never taste all of the beers available and therefore are unable to make an expert opinion about what is best and what is lousy.

Then there is the matter of personal taste. How does anyone know where your taste buds have been, since judgment is a matter of context. For example, I have heard people lauding Koors beer out of Denver, USA uber alles, then find out they are just extremist right wing Republicans, who believe the Koors family has the right stuff.

There's no need to try and sample 100 beers, which is impossible. Better to select beer or ale by country.

Number one is Belgium. Number two is Germany. Number three is Britain. Number four is Ireland, as all they have is stout, which are not bad.

And if it is not exported, nobody knows about it expect maybe once a year at these beer festivals.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 10:36:44 AM EST
So if

there is the matter of personal taste

how can you say

Number one is Belgium. Number two is Germany. Number three is Britain. Number four is Ireland,


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 10:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My first quote answers my second one. Period.

And another note on the impossibility of making an objective estimate of the taste and quality of 100 beers at a festival. For example, suppose you tasted a stout and then followed that with a light lager. Obviously, the lager's taste would be corrupted by the stout. And so on over the course of 100 tastings.

I would agree with the implications of some of the previous commenters, that the best way to enjoy a beer festival is to get souced, hopefully without cost. And no, I don't have any remedies for a beer hangover.


by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 10:48:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PS: My wife and I love Duval. One reason is that it is sold here in the US. Is it the best Belgian beer? Well we don't know, but it is a great beer.

Want to make something of it? As I said, it is a matter of personal taste in a world of what's available to you. Some people actually drink Bud, a whole lot of them. Why? It's associated with American football. And then there's people who attend Beer festivals and talk about this one or that one being the best. What's really needed is an objective beer tasting machine. When that is developed we will know for certain which is the best, or will we?

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 10:58:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, there is no such machine but for Belgian beers there is the OBV group who have a rigorous scoring of the various flavours within beer and have aggregated their impressions.

It is not a mark of quality, merely a record of the beer.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 11:18:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How can I introduce my taste buds into their system? That is the question.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:00:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First thing you need to do is get some taste training. As you seem to be in NYC, get acquainted with the gotham imbiber, I'm sure they organise taste training.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:15:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure about this Helen. Taste buds are taste buds. Just how do you train them? It would seem to me that such training would just artificialize the pleasure, and lead to false claims. A beer taste cannot really be broken down into components. It is either there are not there. Taste and stop thinking about the taste, which would only confuse the matter. It is there are not there.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:28:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beer can be broken down into the 4 different tastes.

salt, acid, sweet and bitter. You can then look at fruit malt hoppiness etc etc.

I'm sorry, but to simply lay a slur against the idea of beer tasting in self-evident ignorance of what you're talking about is very insulting.

So, seeing as it's quite obvious I'm not persuading you of the advantage of understanding beer flavours, I think I'll call it quits at this point.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
self-evident ignorance of what you're talking about is very insulting

Nobody could have predicted...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taste buds are taste buds. Just how do you train them?

You train your brain to recognize what your taste buds (and, actually, your nose) are telling you. Next you're going to claim, from first principles, that Oenology cannot exist.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. thank you

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:56:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like learning to appreciate music or poetry - ears are ears and words are words, not only is training not necessary, it doesn't add anything to appreciation. Right? Uh... Wrong.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 03:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"that Oenology cannot exist."

Exactly. That's what I am talking about. When you try to break an experience down to its components, you have lost the experience. Beer is an 'ahhh' experience and you know when you have a great beer when you get it. Otherwise, trying to insert some cognitive analysis into tasting beer invariably distorts it.

You Europeans here are all alike: you believe that you're a think tank capable of resolving everything including taste through some kind of analysis.

And don't ask me why I bother trying to teach you. It is just impossible.


by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 04:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't ask me why I bother trying to teach you

Wait -- THAT'S what you're doing?!?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 04:30:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Viola, viola. That's a French translation for the good ol' American, 'fucking A.' Sometimes we just don't beat around the bush. Right Helen?

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 04:58:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that you're a f'in A and proud of it has been pretty obvious for a while.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 04:59:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially no excuse for not trying lots of stuff if in NYC.  You can get anything there.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 08:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My NY locale is just a myth, created by Bostonians who think the Red Sox are really going to the World Series this year.

by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:11:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am reliably informed the Red Sox will win the pennant this year.

Or next year, for sure.

Count on it.

(They sell lots of drugs in Boston.)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
THE LEGENDARY RED SAUX FAITHFUL WILL LIFT OW-UH TEAM TA VICTARY!  YANKEES SACK!  YANKEES SACK!  YANKEES SACK!

Eh...just looking at the division, they're four and a half games back of the Rays (who I'm amazed are even still around), and six games back of -- shock of shocks -- the Yankees.

Looks like the Yankees manage to buy it this year.  Again.

Baseball is beyond lame.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:27:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing as Belgium has more beer styles than the rest of the world put together, do you mean all Belgian beers ? Or do you mean that your favourite beers are invariably Belgian ? After all, a good lambic or gueze aren't really in the same brewing philosophy as megakeg beers like Stella Artois.

My favourite beer, as I explained here, is German but my preferred beer styles are invariably British.

As for Duvel, I am concerned that the flavour lacks the depth of a decade or so ago, as if over-production has led to some short cuts in the brewing process. It's a little thing but I'm quite aware of it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 11:14:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stella Artois has also gone commercial and it is out of the running with respect to Duval. If Duval was greater ten years ago than it is today, then we have certainly missed out on the Greatest.


by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My fear is that they've actually dumbed the beer down by introducing brewing candy (extra sugar). That knocks it from being a good beer to being a poor one cos there's not enough taste to support the strength.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you might be right as far as Artois is concerned. But Duval, no, I don't think so. Still I would like to sample Duval as it was ten years ago to see if it is really any different. It is still a great beer, whatever they did.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I appreciate you want to believe that, but I've noticed the pretty unmistakable tang of brewing candy in Duvel.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You see. That's my point. The more you go over and taste the bitter ones, the more you come back and claim the old favorites are now candied.

So let's agree Helen. We both know when a dog is a dog. But when we get to the top, life is relative. It's anybody's say. Here's where we are all on our own, and everyone's right and wrong. It's the beer summit, and everyone is on top because everyone is right.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you don't have to try 1000 beers, but over time and with training you learn to identify traits that you associate with quality beers.

then you take the recommendations of others who have had similar training and that allows you to sift through beers to arrive at those that are of consistent high quality. For instance, the Champion Beer of Britain is a selection of county based tasting panels that feed through to regional recommendations. All then go to the final selection at the GBBF. Divided into Mild, bitters, strong bitters, golden beers and other. (dark beers are done at the Winter festival), each category has a winner which are then judged against each other for quality.

Of course personal preference comes into it a bit, but the fact is that very few people who really care about quality beer actually recommend poor quality beers. So even within our personal preferences, mine is for very hoppy beers, we will have similar criteria about what a good beer can be.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 11:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree that a dog is a dog. But then when we come up against the cream of the crop, there is only personal taste to decide. And just how is it that the experts have taste buds uneffected by a cascade of different beers tasted one at a time. It is not a science, I know. But I would hate to learn that these tasters are just a bunch of alcoholics, to whom anything tastes great.

So you still haven't told me about the best light beer around. Is there any such thing, especially among foreign beers available in the US, not just in Boston?

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:08:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How ? Training, not as rigorous as wine tasters to be sure, but it's a similar sort of thing. To suggest it's just a bunch of drunks getting together and privileging their opinions denigrates everything I've been trying to say.

What do you mean by light beer ? I don't recognise the term. Do you mean weak ? Relative to what ? Or do you mean any straw coloured beer ?

As for american beers, Cat's graph suggests there's 1300 different breweries in the US right now, most of them doing at least half decent craft beer and I am unfamiliar with almost all of it. I know that the US does very good beer and I know that they do better IPAs than most breweries in the UK. But I can't name you a brewery and a beer you'll find just down the road.

this is a journey you have to do using local resources, such as gotham imbiber, which also covers boston and any local craft beer drinkers group you can find.

I can tell you about British beer, I can't really advise on US.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:23:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's nothing wrong with being denigrated.

As you may have noticed, it has happened to me on occasion here, with the same lack of justification as your own. I grin and bear it.

And that the one point, Cat's that is, sort of: there's too many breweries, and certainly too many in the US. Why can't the brewers just make a few really good brews that no one can deny are not the best damn beers in the world? Well, because it looks like we're back to my original point: personal taste. I hope that you'll emphasize this point next time you write a diary about beer. The professional tasters are just no better than us. Maybe they're running a scam. Who knows.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:18:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because it looks like we're back to my original point: personal taste. I hope that you'll emphasize this point next time you write a diary about beer.

Right.  Because it's up to Helen to emphasize something that's obvious to everyone already, but which you decide to make some issue out of.  Because obviously everyone here needs a disclaimer that specialized critiques are, y'know, criticisms based on the judges' tastes.  And criticisms are NEVER handy in subjective areas, which is why none of us EVER share anything about areas which we may have more experience in than others, like film, books, music, food, etc.  

Why did I not see this before?  From now on, I'm ONLY writing OBJECTIVE, PROVABLE fact!  First up:  "The Sky is Blue, People."  Or... wait, y'know sometimes it's gray... or... well shit, it can be all sorts of colors.  Or none!  And what about the color-blind among us?  And how do we even know we're all seeing the same thing just because we've all labelled it 'blue?"

No worries, I'll think of something... something that'll make you not have to waste two days making tedious comments.... I'm so sorry for all the distress this has caused you, correcting our shoddy communications.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 06:26:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spoken like a true beer affictionado (sic). You have it down perfectly. Couldn't have said it better. Now tell helen.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 08:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget Helen -- I'm telling Ebert! I'm sure he'll just hang it up, once I enlighten him with your comments.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 08:53:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And PS: Given your rant, let me take this time to apologize to all of those Koors drinkers for my earlier remarks. Just because they support a right wing racist Republican family is no excuse to demean their beer, no matter how insipid and metallic its taste. Afterall, my theme on this diary has been that personal taste supercedes all else, given that everyone knows a dog when he tastes one.

However, even here, who is to say who the dogs really are or that Koors is among the dogs? It may just be a simple case of snobbery.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 08:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, because comparing connoisseurs to political cheerleaders is exactly the same thing and totally proves your point -- glad that's cleared up!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 09:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry about it Izzy.

As evidenced by this statement (among others);-

here's nothing wrong with being denigrated.

As you may have noticed, it has happened to me on occasion here, with the same lack of justification as your own. I grin and bear it.

I do not believe that shergald's baiting of me is anything to do with the content of this diary, but may be payback for perceived or actual slights by me in diaries of his. The sheer illogicality of his hymn to wilful ignorance is simply the hook on which he supposes to enrage me. I can't do Jerome's {gallic shrug} but I can effect a convincing west coast "whatever"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 05:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try a South-East English "Yeah, so...?"
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 09:43:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's evolved a little, it's not "Yea, and...?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 09:47:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please Helen. I like you and would never care to defame your person. All I'm trying to do here is to engage debate with a point of view, and from the looks of it, an interesting diary about beer, got a little more spicy, intellectually speaking. If you read the comments, after the dogs are laid aside, it is all about personal tastes.

And don't think I don't have some misgivings about the Yankees either. I mean just the pinstripes alone, which bring up reminiscences of Wall Street, capitalism, and then for god's sake, Republicanism. However, once a Yankee fan, you're stuck for life. Sorry.

by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS: And speaking of commnercially available beer, where can we put Beck? It is at least reliable if not the greatest taste around. I think that my problem with the 1000 beers, is that most go by the wayside. Beck is not the greatest, but as I said, but it is at least a survivor among the German group.

And may I ask: why should Duval or any other beer that has achieved greatness change their formula, if it is their formula that made them great in the first place? Is it rather we who have changed?

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Becks ? It's an okay pils. tends towards the bland but it's supposedly brewed according to the rheinheitsegebot purity law, so it should be better than most commercial mega kegged pilseners you'll find.

I don't know that much about german beers regrettably, I just don't have enough opportunities to drink it. I'm also not the biggest fan of pils beers anyway. Although I can recognise a good one, I prefer other german styles

As for why beers get changed, I refer you to my tirade about the destruction of bass in a previous diary;-

Bass Bitter (Union brewed)

Bass bitter is known throughout the world, its red Triangle symbol is the world's oldest trademark (London no 1) and has been an export success since the early 20th century. And one of the things that made it a success was the fact that it was brewed using what is known as the Union system that made it an unusually consistent and stable beer. However, accountants, never known for allowing a bankable success to get in the way of seeking to squeeze costs, decided that the maintenance of the Union system was hurting the bottom line and scrapped it. With a stroke of a pen a yeast line that had remained stable for over a century was cast aside and the quality of the beer nosedived.

It became too sweet and lacked the depth of flavour that had made it such a bankable choice. Once a pub that sold Bass well had been a mark of quality to actively seek out and appreciate, people swapped notes as to where the best pint could be had (Euston station was the the most frequently tipped). But with the loss of the beer, so went the reputation. Bass is now owned by Coors of the USA. They deserve nothing better.

It happens all the time, I have lost count of the number of good beers that have been sweetened, made less bitter, made slightly thinner, added sugar for alcohol. all in the name of greater profitability. Quality and capitalism are not compatible.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't agree more about canned Guinness or the drafts, and certainly Bass Ale went down the tubes long ago. Haven't even heard of the others you reviewed.

Just too many to keep track of or even to get access to. It is worse than wine. At least least the wineries have to grow grapes, but the brewers just buy a few bags of grain and that's it.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:23:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And PS once again: I noticed that the Sox are playing in New York today, and they are going to get their asses kicked. Know what kind of beer is served at Yankee Stadium? What beer is the Sox beer and which is the Yankee beer? This is another variable in the race to the best beer. And why are American beers not considered at all in this discussion? Okay don't answer.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:21:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello, the GBBF had 100 American craft beers on draught !! You're the one who wants to talk about belgian.

But in terms of volume, most american beer is rubbish from the big brewers. But you can find craft beers almost everywhere now, look around you.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:34:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who'se going to take a chance on a fancy name unknown beer. Those that I have tried a;ways had an off taste. In fact, my appreciation of many of those beers is that the taste 'off.' Take it from me, if the beer is red, just skip it.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:27:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Start by deciding on the styles you like (IPAs, brown ales, stouts, whatever).  Narrow it down to one you'd like to try a selection of.  Then go to the store and look at a few.  Read the labels.  A lot of the specialty beer stores will have descriptions these days, too, to give you a rough idea of what to expect.

Buy a few -- they usually let you grab six for a variety pack -- and see what you think.

Have a sense of adventure.  You'll find some dogs, but you'll also find some stuff that'll blow away garbage like Becks (which is just Budweiser for people who don't want to get caught drinking Budweiser).

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 08:46:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope your not inferring that I'm a closet Bud lover, are you? My whole point here is that once you get beyond the dogs, it is all a matter of personal taste. And that is just why it makes no sense to waste your time at beer conventions, except to get on a free drunk, or listening to beer affictionados. If you have an identical twin, that's different. THen listen.

And some beer drinkers drink out of political convictions, and if you can convince your taste buds that this tastes good, so be it.

by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As you say, it's all a question of what you like in a beer.  German beer is boring, and Belgian beer is just awful.

Now admittedly that's from a sample of German and Belgian stuff that makes it stateside (or England when I was there), and I'm sure that's not a great sample.

And admittedly I'm prejudiced against the Germans, because they're the ones who ruined American beer before Carter allowed the microbreweries to spring up.  Budweiser is Germany's fault.  And so are all those hideous brews they have in Milwaukee.

But I like dark, smooth beer, so I tend to gravitate towards the English and Irish stuff.  And some of the American stuff, but the American brews tend to have too much alcohol for me (7-9% vs 4-5% for English/Irish).  I'd rather have low-ABV stuff that I can drink while watching a game for a few hours without being hammered by the end.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 08:34:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"But I like dark, smooth beer..."

There you go again (to quote that dimwit Reagan), you proved my point about: it's all about personal taste. This idea of Helen that trained experts can give you the low down on what you would like is pure nonsense.


by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:22:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You make it sound as though personal taste is fully informed in all people, and imply that there is nothing to learn - about, for instance, beer.

Any sense can be trained to be more discriminating, with practical know-how.

How many millions love hamburgers and have very personal preferences for the chain and a particular product? But if these people are unaware of a whole new level of food above, made from fresh, good, sustainable ingredients with a careful palette of tastes, then their 'choices' really are uniformed.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:35:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite Swen.

What I really said was that we can and do learn to discriminate the dogs, and know when a dog is a dog. Now that may not be true of Koors drinkers. But after that it is a matter of taste. There is no cream of the cream except that you decide so. And many of the commenters essentially say that when they declare a preference. Also our tastes are limited to the number of beers we can sample, and certainly beer festivals is not the place for two reasons: our taste buds are corrupted going from one beer to the next, and then it is logically impossible to taste all of the beers, considering that the American pavillion alone had 100 beers on tap. There must certainly have been upward of a thousand beers ready to sample. And I do think that beer tasting experts are prone to the same foibles, ugh, not another beer, help me, please.

And finally training taste buds to discriminate beers by breaking the taste down into components misses the gestalt provided by the whole experience. Hence, we must assume that the average beer drinker is limited in the number of beers he could ever taste and that he will eventually decide on the best one "for him," based on his personal taste. Read the comments, and you might agree.


by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 02:01:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Known locally as "Rocky Mountain Piss Water," Coors is made in their factory (too big to be a brewery) in Golden, CO. Denver and other front range cities in Colorado offer a fine array of locally brewed artisan beers that put the Koors family product to shame. The 'K' in Koors indicates their political leanings are like unto the KKK.

PS- Pete Coors ran for US Senate a few years back, and got properly stomped by Mark Udall.

by US Blues on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 10:07:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Koors sucks indeed. But that is still our opinion. My feeling is that right wing Republicans can train their taste buds to like crap if the right issues are behind it.

by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:24:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should have looked for some Theakson's beer on tap while I was in the UK. Metatone told me about Old Peculiar years ago and you can buy it in the US, of course it isn't quite as good.

Did you have any beer from breweries based in California? I didn't recognize anything you named beyond have had Boston Beer Works brews back when I lived there.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 09:12:52 PM EST
The Lost Abbey brewery, whose Mongo I mentioned, are from San Diego.

I also have brought home bottles from the Green Flash, Stone and Sierra Nevada breweries, all Californian, to try on the recommendation of the bar manager but cannot report on them as I've not yet opened them.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 05:31:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stone's beers are great. I've been drinking them as much as anything since I got back.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:56:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This site has a list of Cal breweries.  Lots in your area -- the Bay Area, right? -- I suspect.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 08:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great photos, looks like heaven!

In the US bar photo is the red hand insignia of the Left Hand Brewing Company. Named after Niwot, the last local Arapahoe Chief in the Boulder Valley, Niwot (the Chief) was left-handed, which is the meaning of his name. Many local landmarks, and a town, are named in his honor. I am happy to see some one of my local brewers represented at such an august gathering.

Chief Niwot was killed in the Sand Creek Massacre, in Southern Colorado, in 1864.

by US Blues on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 10:03:24 AM EST
I'm quite fond of Left hand brewery from what I've tried of them. I didn't have any this time, but last month I tried the 400 lb gorilla and the Milk stout.

I think I also meant to try the imperial Stout, but forgot.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 10:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We still need to trade some Olde Trip for whatever it was you wanted (Stone?).

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 12:08:58 PM EST
Here's a new strong Finnish beer for you, Helen -16%. It's from the Malmgård Brewery - about 30 minute's drive away from Porvoo.

ratebeer:

(Draught@SOPP 2010, sampled 2010-04-09) Very dark brown, no head to speak of. Plenty of malt in the aroma, with warming alcohol, some licorice, and a touch of vanilla. Viciously malty, sourish flavor with licorice and roasted coffee. Quite full body, but clearly lower viscosity than in, say, Dark Horizon, of the same ABV. Alcohol well hidden, but peeks in the finish. Quite interesting and successful experiment, but I don't think it becomes a regular product.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 12:33:59 PM EST
And then there's Hartwall's '1836 Classic Gourmet'.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 12:36:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the idea that it's not about the alcohol, but 16% is a bit strong for anything other than a one off taste.

If I see it, I'll try some.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 12:51:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Huvila X-Porter (another Finnish beer -- described as a black British-style Porter) won a silver medal at a recent beer festival held in San Diego last month. While I was under the impression that this beer was brewed closer to my neck of the woods at Panimoravintola Huvila in Savonlinna (quite a nice venue in all respects), apparently now it too is being brewed in Malmgård.
by sgr2 on Mon Aug 9th, 2010 at 05:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This looks like a fantastic festival. Not sure how long i'd last if there were free samples being banded about like!
by cbrown on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 08:21:21 PM EST
Sadly, money changed hands. Indeed transport included, it cost me £30 before I bought a beer.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 11th, 2010 at 05:19:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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