Nate Dawg’s Great British Beer Festival Preview (and 2011 brief recap)

Image taken from here:

I went to The Great British BeerFestival last year (2011), all alone because I have no friends. It’s hardly surprising, is it? I am joking; of course, I have lots of friends but none who like beer so much that they’ll travel 120 miles to drink it.

Even though I went alone, I had a bloody good day out. I drank some wonderful beers (don’t ask me which although I was wearing my Dark Star ‘Don’t Drink Hophead’ t-shirt that I won through a twitter campaign but I drank Hophead anyway, being the rebel that I am) and met some awesome new people who I’m still in contact with through the wonderful world of twitter. I also got to show off my awesome shoes that @BeeryMatt loved a lot (I may have to break them out for this year’s affair, actually).

Despite having such a great time in 2011, I wasn’t going to go this year with it being in London, during the Olympics but then I was offered a couple of trade session tickets by a very good man who I’ve never met. I just hope he doesn’t expect sexual favours in return.

Anyway, I looked at the beer list and thought I’d convey some of my feelings for your reading pleasure…

So I looked at the beer list and thinking that surely this can’t be even close to the final list, right? The only breweries that have more than one beer are Fuller’s, Brains, Greene King, Marstons, William Worthington, Thwaites and Well’s & Young in addition to the fact that a lot of key players in the brewing industry of today are missing, for example; There is no Dark Star, no Thornbridge, no Magic Rock, no Orkney, no Green Jack, no Summer Wine, no Williams Brothers… loads of others are missing too and the great breweries they do have, only have one beer each.

Is this CAMRA’s fault? Probably. The way I remember being explained to how beers are picked is that the committee of each CAMRA district choose some beers that they think are the ‘best’ in their district then send that list to GBBF committee for the higher powers there to choose what they want to showcase.

Just look at the Norfolk beers… there are only 6 and most of them are completely standard beers that flows with what all of the people I know who have a heavy involvement in the Norwich & Norfolk branch of CAMRA likes. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of alright ones in there; just nothing that really stands out to me. Certainly not beers I’d pick to show off to the rest of the country!

It’s bullshit because the vast majority of the higher powers seem to be older people who don’t like new styles of beer. They always seem to pick a shit load of milds, best bitters, porters, stouts and golden ales which have an average ABV of about 2.8% (not that ABV matters, for the record). The vast majority of beers you will find at any CAMRA beer festival have the aroma and flavour of stewed twigs, maybe with some nuts thrown in. They hate hops.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good mild or any of the styles mentioned above but it gets really boring when you’ve got almost 800 beers of the same style!

Why did it have to change this year? Last year’s beer list was fucking outstanding.

Hopefully there are actually more interesting beers in addition to what they’ve put online but that remains to be seen; if not, they should let me drink Foreign beer all day because that list looks pretty sweet.

There are a fair few British real ales I am looking forward to, just not as many as I had hoped for. Some of these include: Ilkley Siberia (Collaboration with Melissa Cole), Offbeat Way Out Wheat, Saltaire Elderflower Blonde, Brodies Dalston Black IPA & Marble Lagonda IPA.

The foreign beers look great this year, there are quite a lot I’d like to try but I think that’s irrelevant right now as I’m talking about cask ale. A sidenote, however, is that there is a Thornbridge beer at GBBF… it’s Pond Hopper which is their collaboration with Odell and it’s on the Foreign bar.

Regardless of the lack of beers that I’m really excited to try, it’ll be a good fun day out and I’ll get to meet lots of awesome people who I’ve been discussing beer with on twitter for the past year or so!

What beers are you excited about?

Anyway, guys have a good week; enjoy International IPA Day tomorrow and hopefully I’ll see you all next Tuesday for some beers.



  1. 2.8?! there aren't even any that low. 4.5 would be a better guesstimate.

    The ones with multiple beers are the breweries who have paid to have their own stand, and unsurprisingly its the bigger brewers who can afford this. All on stillages only allowed one beer each unless they have multiple beers nominated for CBOB.

    They also try not to have the same beers from one to the next to showcase as many brewers as possible.

    Bear in mind also that the festival is smaller than previous years due to the venue move.

    The thornbridge odell is only in bottle afaik, you'd be better off picking it up from an off-licence as it'll be pricey at GBBF

    I find the best thing to do is just see what tales your fancy on the day as you'll invaribly be disappoinetd as some of the stronger beers may not even be on yet.

    1. Yeah, I dunno, I’ve seen quite a few fairly low beers on there.

      I wasn’t actually aware that each brewery was only allowed one… I don’t think that makes sense really. It doesn’t even seem that much smaller to be honest!

      I’m aware that Pond Hopper is only bottle. I do intend on picking on up at some point. I might have to grab one when I’m there as they’re probably quite limited, we lack any good beer shops and I’m not planning any orders soon.

      Oh, I know they’re not all on all the time. That’s silly. I’m just building a preliminary list of what I’d really love to try then if that fails, just pick ones with hilariously terrible names.

      Cheers for the info though. Looks like I make a habit out of writing posts with a lack of knowledge.

    2. with ~1000 breweries there isn't the space to even have one from every brewer, let alone multiples from one brewer. The brewery bars are more a way of reducing entrance fee than special treatment to the big boys.

    3. Also have to bear in mind that not all brewers would want to/ be able to brew beer for the festival.

  2. I didn't say the big boys were a problem... some of them still produce some great beers!

  3. Save your cash, make the trip to Nottingham/Robin Hood festival in October. Far better than GBBF.

    1. Already booked everything. I'll still make Nottingham though... direct train again!

  4. Sadly Nate I agree with the beer list selection issues, as you know I posted something very similar.

    I suppose it could be argued that we should get involved with local branches to force change from within, I just can't face it in Stoke at the mo, willl have to try and influence from blogging instead

    1. Yeah man, I enjoyed your post.

      We probably should get involved in CAMRA meetings etc but some of us have other things to do, innit? The whole phrase 'forcing change from within' isn't really a phrase I'm comfortable with but it probably is the only way!


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