I've just had a thorough look through this year's GBBF beer list and a couple of things stand out and require comment.
Firstly, as I've stated earlier in a previous blogpost, the range and choice of the international beers is simply fantastic. From New Zealand via Belgium, Japan and the USA is not only out of this world but it represents the best examples of beer from the four corners of the globe. Credit must go to the person in charge of choosing the international beers. Hats off and glass raised in appreciation.
However, having spent some time going through the UK cask beer list, I find myself asking, "Is this really the very best of British beer at this moment?"
It goes without saying that there are some super UK cask beers on the list and available at the GBBF this week and that this list is extensive and offers beer drinkers a diverse variety and choice this but it struck me that some of the best British beers from some of the best British brewers are conspicuous by their absence at the GBBF.
Take, for example, Fyne Ales. They produce some of the best light, hoppy and golden beers currently available in the UK. Their Avalanche, Hurricane Jack and Jarl beers are absolutely superb yet absent from the list. Fyne Ales' Jarl has blown the socks off nearly everyone that has tried it and has earned rave reviews from all over the country since it was launched last summer. This 3.8% Citra based session beer regularly sells out in under a handful of hours when it appears in pubs and it was recently awarded the SIBA overall champion beer of Scotland. I'm mystified as to why this beer and others from the Fyne canon are not available at the festival. Instead, the only beer from Fyne at the GBBF is their Highlander, which is a relatively nice heavy style beer but it's not what I would have picked from their stable for the GBBF.
Take also, for example Camden Town brewery which have only bottles and no cask available. Likewise, The Kernel which have, again, no cask and only bottles. For Manchester Brewery, Marble, they fare a bit better with a cask version of their chocolate stout available but not their better known beers such as Dobber and Marble Pint. Some breweries don't even figure at all at the fest, such as Hardknott Brewing from Cumbria.
Maybe, I'm splitting hairs but if you hold a beer event and call it the Great British Beer Festival then you should, surely, go to the effort to ensure that you carry the best of British beer.
Can someone explain the beer selection process for the GBBF beer list as I can't work out why some cracking cask has been left off the menu?
Despite this, there are more than enough different beers and beer styles to go round and I'm sure that everyone will have a blast.