So the Great British Beer Festival came to town last week. Exciting stuff! I had been before but this time I felt like I was approaching it with a little more tact and knowledge and it was all the more enjoyable for it.
Here follows a note for the uninitiated or those wanting to get the best experience from the day.
Find some friends interested in drinking beer. You should know one or two.
Do attend during the day if you can. I went this year after work and I felt a little rushed trying to get through the beers I wanted to enjoy and not chug down prior to last orders.
Locate a table or any flat surface with chairs surrounding it. This may require imagination, flattery or bullying to acquire this but has obvious benefits.
Create a beer fund. Get your friends to pool cash together (£10 or £20 in the pot to kick things off is plenty).
As a group, work through the brochure to browse the beers in each section that you want to try. This avoids the awkward situation of flapping around trying to choose a beer when faced with an abundance of unpronounceable varieties. Also itself useful in avoiding the glare from the large impatient bloke behind you in the queue and the ‘tuts’ from other elderly bearded gentlemen watching on.
You and your chums should try to purchase a half or third of different beer each from each station so you can each sample one another’s beverage. This means you try numerous beers from each area. Its amazing what you discover you like in beers you wouldn’t usually order.
Bring out your inner beer geek by chatting and conversing over the beers you are trying. This will help build your vocab and learn to express yourself verbally when describing what you are tasting.
Pork snacks and pies are an ideal accompaniment to beer. Fact.
Try to wash your glass out regularly or exchange it for a fresh one, especially after sampling beer which pongs heavily of smoked German sausage otherwise this will seriously impede your ability to smell anything else poured into said glass.
Award winning beers will sell out fast, this is fine though because these are just a few people’s opinions. Ask the bar staff volunteers to recommend you an alternative, they have taste buds too in most cases.
Plan your route home in advance!