A couple of weeks back I made it down to The Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in London for the 5th time running. The usual suspects were present and correct, with Cousin Iain, Nicola, and their friends helping Thursday night along after I’d flown down in the afternoon.
Friday was the main event, though, with myself, Iain and Charlie meeting up for a fine breakfast at Cafe Continente in West Kensington, before heading in to Earls Court just after 1pm. Much to our surprise it was already quite busy, but not so much that you had to queue too long at each bar. The bars themselves were differently laid out this year – in alphabetical order instead of the usual regional layout. This was initially confusing, as one of the Cornish breweries (St Austell) was where I remembered Cornwall being in previous years, so it took a while before I realised that they were in alphabetical order.
I could wax lyrical about all of the great ales we tasted, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t really remember. Not because we were staggering about in a stupor, but because the day was so packed with good company that it was easy to forget that the beer was meant to be the attraction. I think that’s the case at all good beer festivals, though – if the ales are fine and the company is good then it’s the best place in the world to be.
As ever, it was over all too soon on Friday night. Shortly after Charlie said his farewells, Iain, Steven, Nicola and myself went for a meal at the Indian Express as dusk slipped into darkness outside. After that, Iain, Steve, and I would go for a cheeky one for the road in the nearby Curtains Up bar – quite possibly one too many on the day.
Making the most of the weekend, I joined Iain and Nicola in watching Leicester City play Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon and chalked up yet another non-result in my history of watching The Foxes in action. Still, at least Iain had got me a Leicester shirt of my own for my birthday, so I took more from the game than the team did!
Later that night we’d go and meet Steven for some beers at Tom Cribb, a quirky little bar near Piccadilly Circus, where they had the lovely Late Red ale on. Seeing Late Red appear is something of a mixed emotion for me – it’s one of my all time favourite ales, but it indicates that summer is coming to an end.
Still, a fun few days in the capital helped push that thought from my mind, and I’m already looking forward to attending my sixth Great British Beer Festival in August 2011. Hope to see you there.