Drunk Qyping, amazing…
Great British Beer Festival
Earls Court, London
Warwick Road, Earls Court, London SW5 9TA
- Earl's Court Tube Station (0.3 km)
- West Brompton Tube Station (0.3 km)
- Contact us:
- Opening hours:
7th-11th August 2007
See website for times.
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14 reviews of Great British Beer Festival in English
Sitting on the floor in the middle of Earls Court exhibition centre it’s clear that I’ve had a fair bit to drink. But not surprising seeing as I’m at the beer festival!
This place is great, well, the beer is, and the ciders and perries are too. I’d expect nothing less from a festival celebrating 40 years of CAMRA though, but if only the festival were in a big field somewhere, I can’t help but feel that would be better! Ah well, it’s still pretty spectacular, and the drinks aren’t too bad either!
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Such a great event. OK, the queue outside looks like a Fairport Convention gig & females are few & far between (this IS changing though, thankfully) but I would never miss it. There are beers from all continents in a simply HUGE variety. Check out the website....the choice is mind blowing! There are whole aisles covering different regional British ales and massive zones dedicated to mainland Europe's finest. Even the US has a great showing & their tasty Californian IPAs are really worth a go; A very natural reaction to the bland-out mainstream US fayre.
But there are important ground rules..............
Don't do this on an empty stomach. Load (lard!) up. Drink 1/3 pints primarily. Check the award winning ales in advance & queue early....they GO early. Go for session ales principally, a day on the Belgian beer is a short one......and messy!!!! Pin your address to your lapel on departure, this will aid your fellow travellers in waking you up on the train when, in a state of advanced 'over-refreshment', you doze off and miss your station. Oh yes, and keep a spare £30 on you for a taxi fare home from where it actually IS you wake up or put it towards a B&B if you wake up, as I am prone to do, by the coast at 1am. Classy.
I think this is a fun festival to visit with some friends. I also think it is fun if you are an experienced ale connoisseur and want to try some brews that you have not had before. The selection of beer is amazing and it is all good quality. There is entertainment (although when the main performers aren’t on the other stuff they have on stage seemed a bit lame) and there are plenty of food and fun stalls that could also divert your attention.
I would offer some words of caution however to help people enjoy the experience. Don’t overdo it…..I don’t mean the alcohol..go ahead…knock yourself out (perhaps quite literally). I mean..don’t go more than once….twice maximum. If you do, you may tire of all the people and long for a simple pint in a pub (I did!). If you don’t like the crowds and want to drop by one evening, go on Tuesday. If you want a whole day…go on Wednesday. Thursday onwards gets a bit busy. Thursday is also when you start noticing some ales have been drunk dry, so the same advice applies if you have a specific bevvie you want to get your hands on. If it is not pouring down with rain, try and go there without a coat. It gets quite hot inside and you’ll just have to carry it around everywhere. Same goes for brollies and jumpers.
So I enjoyed it but will enjoy it less often next year (when I will just turn up in my shorts on a Tuesday :) )
You may think this is a mecca for the beirdy weirdy and that may be true to an extent but it’s also so much more.
The prize beers tend to go on the first day, but to be honest that’s a very minor set back. You are now able to buy drinks in 3rd (of a pint measure) which may seem a bit girly but is does allow you to sample more.
They now have a good selection of world Lagers as well which is good becuase I do like both. Maybe they should have a bit more of a write up about these breweries like they do with the Ale.
It’s well worth a visit, just don#t ask for A carlsberg!
(Originally posted on August 7, 2008 - this year's GBBF is over, but I've made some corrections to my initial post.)
Two more days to go!
If you like real ale, don’t miss this year’s festival which is running until Saturday, August 9, 2008.
I agree with laurangutan and ahunter: Go for the 1/3 and ½ pints and try to sample as many ales as possible.
The number of beers at the festival (over 450) can be overwhelming to a newcomer. I suggest picking up a copy of this year’s Champion Beer of Britain winners’ list (at the CAMRA booth underneath the large CAMRA promo banner) and decide for yourself if you agree with the results.
And you should definitely get a copy of the official festival guide (£1, free to CAMRA members like me ;-) ). It features detailed descriptions of all ales. I may have missed wonderful taste experiences because I only was able to spend 4.5 hours at the festival yesterday and didn’t have sufficient time to study the guide as extensively as necessary …
Andrew Hunter, 7 August 2008:
Great video! Wish i was there!
Billy, 11 August 2008:
A great review, and one which has been seen and noted by the CAMRA press office!
Netty, 15 August 2008:
We love drinking different beers here at our home in Machynlleth such as Otter Bright from Devon, The Exmoor Beast, Pen-ylon Welsh beer, Cobra beer (Indian), beer from Poland….and sometimes I go out and buy a German Hefeweizen.
I must go to the Great British Beer Festival in the future. A great review, PJebsen! Cheers.
PJebsen, 15 August 2008:
@all: Thanks for the feedback! My German review is a little more extensive … ;-)
Awesome annual festival celebrating real British ale at Earl’s Court. It runs for a few evenings and a Saturday, usually in August.
Pay a tenner (£2 cheaper if you buy in advance, cheaper still if you’re a Campaign for Real Ale member) and attend any day you like. There are literally hundreds of ales, suiting all tastes and strengths, from every region of the UK. Buy a glass at entry, pay for pints, half pints or third-pints, and return your glass for a refund at the end (or keep it).
There’s a huge amount of food, too, fro the traditional British pies and pork scratchings to Indian, Thai, hot dogs, and more.
Looking for funny beer shirts or pub paraphanelia? There’s lots on sale here. They even put on entertainment: brass bands, pub quizzes, and lots more.
All in all, an excelent community vibe for ale lovers.
The Great British Beer Festival is THE event for lovers of good beer and real ciders in the UK.
Organised by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) every August, in the last year it has moved to the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre in London.
The event is huge: over the week, the festival gets over 65,000 visitors, drawn by the prospect of over 450 real ales, and a growing selection of the very best ciders, and specialist lagers from Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, to name a few. New in 2007 is a stand featuring ales for vegetarians, coeliacs and others with specialist dietary needs.
There’s plenty of food available, (with the emphasis on good-value pub-type grub, rather than gastronomy), and a selection of bands (mostly jazz, but including classical!) for entertainment over the week. There are also stalls selling ale-related memorabilia - beer glasses, beer towels, books, t-shirts and the like.
The event draws a huge range of people, from all walks of life and all ages. It’s not just a male, middle-aged event by any means - about a third of attendees are women, and there are also meetings for CAMRA’s different groups, including LAGRAD (lesbians and gay men). The whole thing is very good humoured and enjoyable.
An update for 2008, having just attended on the first day!
It’s still as big as ever, with over 450 real ales again this year. The layout is also improved on last year so it is easier to move around, and there are plenty of seating areas, too. There are some excellent discounts on CAMRA merchandise, and a slightly wider range of food, with Indian food stands adding to the mix this year.
The Champion Beer of Britain was named yesterday as Alton’s Pride brewed by Triple fff Brewery in Hampshire - a small, independent craft brewery which has won several prizes before, but not the big one!
Well worth a visit before its ends on Saturday 9th - otherwise you’ll have to wait for next year!
The GBBF is the largest beer festival in the UK, and the main annual event organised by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).
This is the place to come and try the most extensive range of traditional British Beers assembled in one place. If you are new to real ale, it is a great opportunity to try different types to see which you like; if you’re already a fan, well, then there are literally hundreds to choose from.
Contrary to what some believe, the crowds here are always well behaved, and it is definitely not just for the beard and sandals brigade: in fact, a visit here will help put paid to any stereotypes you may have about who drinks real ale.
Food and all sorts of beer and pub memorabilia is also available. CAMRA members get a discount on entry, and on CAMRA publications bought here, so it’s worth thinking about joining, especially if you make more than one visit.
Comment 2 comments on this review
bassoongb, 8 August 2008:
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to get to the GBBF this year, so reading the comments here is my vicarious attempt to get some atmosphere!
The “well behaved” bit has always amazed me over the years of attending the show. 2000 people in one room with endless beer, and NO aggro? Clearly it isn’t just drinking that causes trouble - you have to be disposed before starting. Three cheers for the “civilisation” of beer!!!
dmj1962, 9 August 2008:
I completely agree - except for the 2,000 people - I think it was a good deal more than that last night! I wish those putting up the tax and duty on beer to combat 'binge drinking’ would take note…
This year the Great British Beer Festival runs from 5-9 August 2008, at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre (see times below). It moved here in recent years as out grew its old venue at Olympia due to popularity.
If you fancy tasting load of British Ales then this is the place to go, although you can take your larger drinking friends too as there is an international larger section, as well as a cider and perry (pear cider) section.
You will need to pay an entrance fee, and then buy a 1/3, 1/2, or pint sized glass, which you can keep or sell back at the end of the night.
My advice would be to buy a pint glass and then to sample as many beers as possible buy beer in 1/3 of a pint. After all the whole idea is to taste the beers and not just to drink copious amounts of the same beers.
Plenty of food stalls, pies, sausages curries, biltong etc. Also each night they have a band, and also stalls for shopping.
Check out the website for further details.
Tue 1700 to 2230
Wed, Thu, Fri 1200 to 2230
Sat 1100 to 1900
Arguably the best beer festival in the world (although i'm sure our friends in Munich will have something to say about that!).
A massive selection of real ales from all around the UK. Earls Court is carved up into Geographies - from Sussex, Wiltshire, Herefordshire & Kent to Austria, Japan, France & The USA. Sample the finest Bavarian wheat beers or the strongest of Somerset ciders. I walked in to the beer festival at about 6pm and left a drunken, but satisifed man. Check out the Cornish Pasty or British Pie shop for late night nibbles.
TIP: Don't be afraid to drink 1/2 pints! It's not considered a faux pas behind these doors. Pace yourself and sample as many beers as possible!
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