Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fun for social pariahs

fun hats
Originally uploaded by petemaskreplica.

Regular readers will be aware of my passion for the medium of comics, a medium I will stand up and shout for in the face of its reputation as an interest for sad freaks. I feel much the same about real ale, and the Great British Beer Festival reminds me somewhat of the Bristol Comics Con, for many of the same reasons; largely that when you go, the crowd there is a lot less freakish than your prejudice might lead you to believe, but this doesn't mean the freaks aren't there. But as a freak myself, I salute them.

There's been a bit of talk about the introduction of 1/3 pint glasses, apparently in an attempt to attract more women. I can see the advantage in having the smaller measure,. but for myself I prefer the pint glass (despite drinking largely halves) as it's more likely to find use at home. Interestingly, many of the 1/3 pint glasses I see are in the hands of men, in the afternoon, and as evening approaches they become a rarer sight. There are plenty of women there, but thy seem largely to hold half or pint glasses.

We wound up going on Thursday this year, something we've previously avoided, as for one thing the earlier days in the week tend to be more selective (i.e. less full of twats in suits getting pissed) but also because Thursday is Fun Hat Day, the mere thought of which fills me with unspeakable horror. Fortunately we went in the afternoon so avoided the worst of the twattery.

As ever, there were many delicious and unusual beers to try, as well as some excellent food stalls to help keep the stomach lined. As the afternoon wears on, the place begins to seem less like a large barn and more like a large pub, until at about 8.00 we consider one more beer, then realise that the place is now packed and resembles a very busy pub that we don't really want to be in (I'm not queueing for 3/4 of an hour to buy a half). We retire to a real pub for one for the road, and then stagger our separate ways.

This year I especially enjoyed a Scottish stout called "Black Gold" (which tastes very little like Guinness), a Finnish Dark Lager (which tastes a bit like mild, although it smells just like lager), some lovely milds ( a mild won the Beer of the Year award for the first time this year, which I hope will lead to a more general availability of this fine beer), and the fruit wines and meads, which stand I left laden with bottles.

There's a whole lot of nice booze beyond the normal fare awaiting your discovery, so if you're in London, pop down to Earl's Court between now and Saturday and sample some of it, and in any case hunt it out wherever you may find it. Why should we settle for the bland and predictable when we can have nice stuff, eh?

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