Schmoozing at GBBF

Most people have it easy at the Great British Beer Festival. Turn up, buy glass, buy beer, wear daft hat, buy more beer, buy suspiciously-long sausage in an undersized bun, drink more beer, cheer when a glass gets dropped, drink more beer, forget where Earls Court tube station is. But for some of us there's an early-doors manic session: the heady delights of Trade Day.

Before the thirsty public are unleashed, GBBF plays host on Tuesday afternoons to a motley crew of brewers, publicans, writers and other beery flotsam. There are the corporate suits, BlackBerried and braying. There are knots of brewers in matching sweatshirts, stood in packs around rucksacks. There are the punters from pubs and clubs and bars, the bar staff and regulars, the minibus outings. The occasional old man with a little-boy-lost face, an empty pint glass and a glazed expression at the overwhelming beer list. The table of geeks, all notebooks and serious demeanour. The mingles of writers and bloggers, Tweet-meeting and LOL IRL. And what I doing?

Schmoozing and boozing.

Meeting up with dozens of brewers, writers, bloggers, marketing managers, distributors, publicans. Swapping bottles, catching up on gossip, working out where the bodies are buried. Press-ganging friends into helping out on brewery bars. Flittering leaflets around tables of topers. Drinks on the fly with old friends, new brewers, consular staff and trade mag editors. And making introductions - brewers who've never met but could now have collaboration plans; landlords and distributors who both want to broaden the accessibility of quality beer.

Speaking of which, let me tip my glass in the direction of a few select tipples. Thornbridge's Craven Silk has a pleasant elderflower zestiness. Augustiner Edelstoff is probably the most refreshing spezial I've ever tasted. And there's probably no finer last-glass-of-the-session than De Molen's Tsarina Esra Reserva; packed full of peppery coffee and chocolate with cherry-berry notes under a vanilla veneer accompanied with a deft hop crunch.

The Great British Beer Festival is now in full swing until Saturday at Earls Court. My advice is: go early. The great beers won't last long.


  1. Was there yesterday, doing pretty much the same thing! An excellent day out though.

  2. Totally agree on the Edelstoff, was superb, wouldn’t mind a barrel in my cellar.