The Great British Beer Festival is Britain’s largest and longest-running beer festival. The thirty-first annual festival will take place this year from August 5-9 at Earl’s Court.
Campaign For Real Ale
The event is organized by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) and boasts almost 800 different beers from throughout the British Isles and around the world. Styles of beer available include ales, bitters, lagers, porters, and stouts. You’ll also find specialty beers brewed with unusual ingredients, such as fruit, chocolate, or even heather from the islands of Scotland.
Bars are roughly divided into regions, so you can tour the U.K. with your taste buds by sampling beers from the Midlands, the Southwest, the Eastern counties, and Scotland. Some of the U.K.’s large, well-known breweries, such as Green King and Wells and Youngs, host their own bars. When you’ve had your fill of British beers, you can head over to the world beer bar, where you can try something from further afield, such as a Belgian Trappist beer, a Czech lager, or an American porter.
Even non-beer drinkers will find something to tempt their palates at the cider bar, which offers a wide selection of ciders and perries (i.e., pear cider). The bar arranges and rates the ciders and perries from very sweet to very dry, so you can make your selection depending on your preference. You can always try a small sample before committing yourself to a full pint.
Purachase a Pint
Upon arrival at the festival, visitors are given a glass in exchange for a small deposit, which can be used to purchase a pint, half-pint, or third-pint from any of the numerous bars. The glass can be returned at the end of the festival in exchange for your deposit, or you can take it home with you as a souvenir.
Drinking isn’t the only thing on the menu at the festival. Hungry festival-goers can soak up all that beer by visiting one of the many food stands, which offer a variety of dishes from pub favorites, like pasties and pies, to curries and noodles. Activities include pub games, live music, and tutored tastings. Beer-themed merchandise – from beer mats to tee-shirts to vintage (undrinkable) beer – is also available from several vendors.
Each year, the Champion Beer of Britain is announced at the event. The winning beer will be available at the festival, but get there early if you want to sample it for yourself because it will surely sell out quickly.