It came, it saw, it fucked me up.
Sunday - The Rake was supposed to be hosting the bar managers from GBBF but they finished so late that they found somewhere local instead of coming to The Rake - These guys work hard and I for one want to thank them for what a great job they did with the festival.
Monday - It was the British Guild of Beer Writers event at Brew Wharf for me but obviously I was working during the day and by the time I actually got to the event, most of the food was gone and most of the beer was gone too, I did manage a Redemption though which are always worth it!
Tuesday - Trade Day at GBBF, the one day of the year where I get to catch up with lots of people that I haven't seen for ages and talk beer all day long. For me and I remember saying this to a couple of people, the event ends up being about catching up with friends rather than drinking beer. That's my excuse for drinking only 7 beers in 7 hours and I sticking to it!
The beer I had were a pint and a half of Thornbridge Chiron (Kai-ron) which was pale, light totally drinkable and a only 5% abv - heaven in a glass boys, keep up the great work! Then I went off to Des de Moor's tasting which was celebrting the release of his latest book, London's Best Beer Pubs and Bars of which The Rake is in the top 25 and Des tells me was the original pitch for the book!I went for a bottle of the Camden Helles, beautiful, just what I needed as the festival was starting to heat up.Then I had Lagunitas something or other, I don't remember which though, I do remember thinking, this isn't hoppy enough. After the Lagunitas I stumbled across the bottled real ale bar and went for a bottle of Kernel Pale Ale, this is a beer that does the trick over and over again, it's one that the geeks don't rave about anymore because Evin and his team have pushed so many beer frontiers in the last 19 months that in order to be raved about they are going to have to brew a 2000 IBU bitter chocolate, strawberry tarte, lambic frosted, whisky freeze distilled in a chipmonks arse brown and dull bitter!Oh and it'll have to be named 'Dryer than a nuns chuff, to get into the Pumpclip parade n'all! Pale Ale does for me, it's cold, it's hoppy, and thirst quenching, perfect! My last beer of the day was De Molen Hout & Hop, this is only 4.6% and a beautiful, lambic, cloudy as hell(it looked like I might have to chew it) Luckily for me I don't drink with my eyes(a lot) and as I took the first waft up the nostrils I was smelling just what I wanted. Nom. By the time I finished that I was ready to move on. It is and always will be a painful experience for my feet because I don't like to site down, I prefer to mingle and meet the people. Somewhere in the middle I went back for a third Chiron and it had run out so I plumped for Kipling instead. Another great Thornbridge beer.
At some point I remember hearing that a Mild had won champion beer and this of course got the predicted reaction from me....boring!
Don't get me wrong I like Mild's and I do like the Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, it's a good beer, I just happen to think that there were better, more interesting beers that should be winning in these competitions. After all it is called the GREAT British Beer Festival! So anyway, it was time to have a sit down and get a good meal so off to the White Horse in Parsons Green I went. Now for the really poor part of the day, shit floor service by the girls who were running the floor down stairs, very unhelpful and thoroughly up their own arses. So I went and sulked upstairs, now for the really great part of the visit - The service I got upstairs was amazing, there was one girl up there running the floor by herself, she was friendly, polite and efficient. The food was, as always stunning and the Orval topped it off nicely. Finished off with a Gin and Tonic, grabbed a cab and got my sorry arse home.
Wednesday - We were hosting the Brewers Association at The Rake in the evening and we had the pleasure of Dave from Smuttynose and Doug Odell turning up for the event, but I was flagging quite badly, my feet are starting to feel the week of schmoozing and boozing and I ducked off early(9pm). Great people though.
By the time the first international IPA day came along I was so sick of beer that all I wanted was a glass of orange squash and a lie down, hey! I'm not as young and pretty as I once was alright? I tried the St Austells Proper black and their Cornish Bock I like the Proper Black, it's their (black) version of Proper Job and it works well, although it does finish a little too roasty for my liking. I went for Lovibonds 69 IPA too, this is another stunning beer, Lovibonds are a great brewery, they only produce Keg and bottled beer and they make no bones about the fact that there's no cask available. If brewers believe their beers are served better by keg than cask, who am I to argue? It's their beer and their choice. But As I said, I was all 'beered out' by thursday and all I wanted was my bed.
SWAndy, Me and SWBrewery James
Friday was different, because I'd had a couple of early nights I was ready to party on friday night! Once Simon Johnson turned up the working day was pretty much a write-off and when we were joined by the likes of Andy and James from Summer Wine Brewery, Mrs Rabidbarfly, Leo aka @caskcrusade, Recently Drunk Bob and his mate...whose name I shamefully still can't remember it was game on! It was one of those nights that I'll remember for a long time, it was excellent, there was laughter, ranting, more laughter, signatures on the wall and more laughter. Lucille and I ducked off at about 10...I think as I had to get up early for the football but a good night was had by all.
Saturday was all about football - I was enjoying the Castle Rock Harvest Pale that was on when I got to Kingsmeadow - incidentally another Champion beer of Britain(2010) that whilst I've enjoyed on numerous occasions, just don't think it's champion beer stuff. When the Harvest Pale finished it was onto Caledonian Flying Scotsman, not a beer I'd had before but I actaully enjoyed the sweetness of the pint, it was just dry enough to hit the spot as the weather turned a bit grey and cold.
So, that was GBBF week for me, caught up with old friends, made new friends, drank good beer and generally had a good time.
I am however, raising a glass to everyone who was working a bar in London last week, I thank you for your hard work and dedication, be you a CAMRA volunteer, a kid earning minimum wage behind a bar or a bar manager, Cheers!
It's here! International IPA Day is upon us!
My last beer in this series is again one I helped brew. The first time I went to Pontypridd I was hoping to brew a hop monster. We didn't fail either with a slight haze, deep tawny colour and a Pacific Gem aroma to die for this was my first proper religious experience.
As I've said before I had to go and sit down on my own and absorb it. After that I got the enjoyment of watching other people enjoying something that you worked so hard to create, it really is a very gratifying experience.
Over the next 18 months - 2 years I've gone back to Pontypridd a lot and the Otley guys and I have worked on the recipe of the Motley Brew, we've got to the point where we're finally really happy with the recipe and there will be no more tinkering.
Motley Mark 1
I'm not going to give you any tasting notes, I'm going to say get your arse down to The Rake and taste it for yourself.
Happy IPA day everybody - Don't forget the Hashtag #IPADay today!
Penultimate day and we'll I'm doing some self congratulation here. I've been lucky enough to brew with Kernel Brewery twice now and we've managed to create a beer that won't stop selling.
The original recipe was based on 21st Amendment's Back in Black IPA, and was shared with Phil Lowry, then of Saints & Sinners brewery who produced, Military Intelligence, the oxymoronic IPA.
Evin and I got the recipe from Phil and the rest as they say, is history!
I've written about it a couple of dozen times and it's a beer that Evin and the rest of the Kernel gang can't brew fast enough.
Kernel India Pale Ale Black is it's name and hops is it's game, it's an IPA that we used Carafa malt with to give it its colour and I happen to think it's a fantastic beer.
International IPA day tomorrow, bet you can't guess what I'm going to end on.....Night.
Quick one today as I'm off to GBBF trade session in a minute. Back to Russian River and Pliny The Elder's nephew, Pliny The Younger!
It's a triple/imperial IPA and usually gets beer geeks cumming in their pants. It's a once a year, small batch release beer that I have only been lucky enough to try once.
What a great beer.
I own a Pliny the Younger shirt, which I now wish I was wearing and it kinda says it all on the back really.
Wonderful things, hops.
Oh, and if you're wondering, it's released in the spring, now form an orderly queue.
This beer really brings back some of the best memories of my life and it's the beer that brought me onto IPA's and spicy food matching with a chicken dish to die for and an IPA that I'd happily kill for.
The dish was a spicy, jerk style chicken dish at the 21st Amendment brew pub in San Francisco which I'm sure you're all bored of hearing me bang on about and the beer was Brew Free or Die IPA.
The Brew Free or Die was my beer of choice when I happily wandered into 21st Amendment on honeymoon lats year.
It's one of those beers which at around 7% abv is dangerously drinkable, especially if you're sitting at the bar and don't notice your legs going numb!
My blog about this is on this link and as it's GBBF week and I'm too busy to go through them again.
All I can really say is if you ever get over there go and order the beer and the chicken and enjoy.
Trade day tomorrow so don't expect me to be compus. Have fun everyone!