It was great to see the GBBF, organised by CAMRA, return to Olympia.
There were hundreds of beers available plus gins, wines and many food stands.
The stand out beers for me were:
Blackedge Dark Mild (3.9%) – from a brewery based in Greater Manchester, a rich dark mild with loads of flavour from a relatively low alcohol beer
Tutts Clump Rum Cask cider (4%) – This medium/dry cider is handmade from a variety of eating, cooking and crab apples mainly from within West Berkshire which has been fermented and matured in oak rum barrels. I’m not normally a cider fan but really enjoyed this. Similar, and equally enjoyable was Rosie’s Triple D Black Barts rum cask matured cider.
Hexhamshire Blackhall English Stout (4%) – Dark Stout, velvety smooth augmented by a lingering bitter finish. Pale Ale & Brown malts. Roasted barley. Fuggles hops. Why drink Guinness when you can have this.
Church End Grave Diggers Mild (3.8%) – from a brewery based near Nuneaton, this mild is dark black and red in colour, with a complex mixture of chocolate and roast flavours. The use of two different hops, gives the beer a complex feel and smooth finish.
Timothy Taylor Landlord Dark (4.3) – most beer drinkers will know standard Landlord but we don’t see this one much in the South. Great depth of flavour but a relatively light mouthfeel.
Surrey Hills Shere Drop (4.2%) – a classic bitter. Pale in colour with a subtle hint of grapefruit and lemon in the aroma. The wonderful hop bitterness is complemented by a balanced malt flavour. The beer has a long finish, which is moderately dry.
As you can see, all these are in the moderate alcohol range. I believe it is much easier to give the impression of flavour when you brew to higher strengths but it takes a more skilled brewer to produce a good, flavourful beer at a more reasonable ABV.