Wednesday, 10 August 2011

GBBF - Why Size Matters.

What size would you like?

The first question and answer at GBBF.

After queueing on trade day for not too long, we past the ticket scanning area and I headed for the first table. the first most important decision at GBBF:

What size glass would you like? Pint, half pint or third of a pint goblet.

The half pint was the most colourful and attractive but the third pint goblet was most sleek in its shape. Although for quantity what you really want is the pint!

My decision was made before I even reached the table. A half pint glass for Hardknott Dave would be sufficient, after all it was a beer festival. He wouldn't need to drink by the pint as there were already too many beers for him to chose from.

For me - well if you read my previous blog you already know the answer. I never drink beer by the pint or even the half pint. I knew if there were any beers that I was going to get excited about they would definitely have an abv over 6% and a third of pint glass would be perfect to enjoy the aromas and flavours of a strong beer.

Right, my job was done. Glasses in hand now to find Dave. He had proceeded to search out a suitable location. I knew where to look. Somewhere between Bieres Sans Frontieres, Fullers and Pork Scratchings. As I arrived he quickly disappeared with the glasses volunteering to find the first beers.

On his return he offered me first, the half pint glass. Mmm lovely. He obviously put the beers in the wrong glasses. This was a delightful 8% Allagash - Flexus 2011French Style Farmhouse Ale. This would do very nicely for a start. However, I was soon to learn that this was his first choice and my beer was indeed in my third pint glass. Wow- absolutely gorgeous. He knows me so well.

What is it I asked him?

He couldn't remember its name all he could remember was its strength. I searched the program but was unable to find it. After a visit to the BSF bar W1, I identified the 15% beer to be Godzilla brewed by Lowells Beer Works USA.

The first choice was the only beer I needed. Although I did try one or two others just to be sure. Including Fuller's Reserve no.3 and an unofficial bottle of Hardknott Queboid which Hardknott Sooty had sneaked in. Both of these were enjoyed over an impromptu beer and cheese tasting session with Fiona Beckett the winematcher whom I met as a result of the #SaturdayKitchenCampaign.

When it was time to depart GBBF there was only one thing to do. A half pint glass and a third pint glass in hand, I returned to the BSF one last time. Please could you fill these both with Godzilla I smiled.  That done, I filled my now empty water container with my special take home beer, for a few hours further enjoyment later.

So my favourite beer was from the USA. Unfortunately I didn't get to try Ted's beer 'Wotcha' from Brewers Union 180 as it wasn't available on trade day. I'm very pleased to hear it won an Award.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Does beer matter?

Does beer matter to you?

Last year, Pete Brown asked "Why does beer matter?" Mark Dredge was one of a number of people who wrote an article about this very subject. If you had asked me 5 years ago I guess I would have said "yes" it does matter. At that time we were running the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale. We only sold good quality locally brewed craft beers from six of the best Cumbrian micro breweries. Before we began brewing Hardknott we sold an offering of Cumbrian brewed beers alongside kegs such as Guinness, Carling and Grolsch. But after we began to brew Hardknott beers we sold a lot more Cumbrian cask and a lot less regular keg. Hardknott outsold other Cumbrian micro brewed beers and we became a lot more choosy about which other beers we sold, as well as not selling the afore mentioned kegged beers anymore. We did sell some kegged beers - Timmermans Kreik, which I had my regular nightly pint of, also Lindeboom and Flensberger for the nominal lager drinkers who may frequent the pub.

We also brewed a hardknott beer with lager malt and Saaz hops. This went down very well especially in the summer. Occasionally it was served extra cold through the gassed font as an alternative to the lager options. Not surprisingly it sold very well there too.

Now although Hardknott Dave brewed some very good beers I never drank them. They were obviously on tap 24 hours a day. Sometimes they even needed checking for quality assurance purposes, or so I was led to believe, but even so, I never even tried them. Why? Because I don't like beer!

I didn't like any beers at all and I didn't know if they were good or bad because they all tasted horrible to me. Well, except for the pink stuff. That was ok.

I really should explain you see. I was brought up in a tea total household. My parents, grandparents and family never drank alcohol of any kind. except maybe a sherry on Christmas day or a sip of a wine at a wedding. My great uncle used to go the pub on a Saturday for a shandy. but even that was frowned upon by my grandmother (his sister).

My first experiences of alcohol involved Liebfraumilch in my early 20s. For the next 15 years or so I may have had an odd glass of white wine and occasionally a Malibu, mixed with pineapple juice of course. I think I may even have stretched to a glass of Rose once.

Then one day a mad entrepreneur by the name of Dave decided we should buy a pub. I don't really remember when I first tasted Kreik but I guess that's what happens when you've had too much of something.

In October 2009 Dave and I attended the Barley wine seminar at Thornbridge Hall. Here the Beer Justice wrote an excellent review so I need say no more. I was surprised to find I liked quite a few of the beers on offer. By the end of 2009 we bottled our first edition of Granite. 10.4% dark, strong syrupy beer.

This was the beginning of my introduction to BEER!

I still would not buy a beer by the pint or even the half pint. I have been known to buy a third of a pint of cider at a beer festival. So.....

"Does beer matter?"

It matters to me because it's my livelihood. It's what I am surrounded by day after day. It's what all my friends and followers talk about every minute of the day.

But what matters to me is that it is over 6.5%, comes in 1/3 of a pint or less, or if it's more, in a bottle so I can savour it over a few hours and not down it in half an hour. My enjoyment of beers has grown and my choices of beers are many. But size and strength are what are important to me when chosing a beer. That's what matters.