Tasting Beers at the Good Food Show

I’m a thirsty kind of guy. Not just for the old malt-and-hop-wash, but for beer knowledge. I’m trying to cram in experience at all ends of the industry; one thing I’d never done was work the counter of a trade stand at an exhibition. So when the BBC Good Food Show and 'Tasting Beers Live' rolled into the National Exhibition Centre, with my good friends at beermerchants in attendance, I jumped at the chance to be a bar monkey for the weekend.

The ‘Tasting Beers Live’ side of the show took place in its own area, right at the arse end of the arena. I was sceptical that many would stumble across it, or that it would end up becoming a ‘man-creche’ of blokes desperate to escape from their wife’s wisteria habit. But business was brisk; when we ran tastings the queues soon formed, at other times there was always someone who wanted to stop and chat about the beers.

On the upside, it was great to put good beer into people’s hands and see them get a real kick of tasting something that was new to them – which was a darn site tastier to many they’d tried before. The range of beers by Viven, the truly-fruity Mongozo beers, classic European lagers and pils, all were gratefully received and sampled eagerly.

The only downside was a perception, re-inforced by physical segregation, that beer tasting had to be separate from good food. Yes, there was a beer-and-food stand. Yes, Richard Fox did a sterling job using his beers (and ours) in cooking a range of stunning dishes. But because the sampling stalls were roped off from the main event, perhaps partly driven by licensing restrictions, perhaps to channel customers into paying £7 for a glass and tokens, it seemed like beer was taking itself too seriously and consciously setting itself apart from the rest of the show. For all the exhibitors in there, nothing could have been further from the truth.

I went there for the experience and, boy, there was plenty to be had.. I’ll share some of those with you throughout this week.. In the meantime, huge thanks to beermerchants for letting me loose on the unsuspecting public and props to Sean for not getting too hacked off when I sprayed Mongozo Coconut over him. For the third time. At least we smelt like we’d been on a spa trip, not a beer exhibition ;-)

1 comment:

  1. I quite liked this show when I attended a couple of years ago. I thought it was pitched about right, and was full of happy punters.

    It's a beer festival for the sort of people who would never dream of going to beer festivals - in short, beer's future demographic.