In this week’s spotlight blog, we’re taking a look at CAMRA’s flagship event – The Great British Beer Festival.
WHAT IS THE GREAT BRITISH BEER FESTIVAL?
Held each year in August, the ‘GBBF’ plays host to thousands of thirsty attendees, all flocking to the capital to taste up to six hundred different beers.
The very first GBBF opened its’ doors in 1977 and has done so every year since (except in 1984 – venue fire and in both 2020 and 2021 – Covid-19 pandemic).
WHERE IS THE GREAT BRITISH BEER FESTIVAL?
The Kensington Olympia in London has been home to the beer festival since 2012, with roughly 60,000 attendees catered for by a team of close to 1,000 volunteers. The London-based event is home to the ‘Champion Beer of Britain‘ awards, one the most coveted commendations among British brewers.
Prior to its’ move to the Olympia, GBBF had called many venues home, these venues include Alexandra Palace (London), Queens Hall (Leeds), Metropole (Brighton), Bingley Hall (Birmingham) and Earls Court Exhibition Centre (London).
WHAT ELSE IS THERE AT THE FESTIVAL?
Whilst the centre-point of the Great British Beer Festival is cask ale, CAMRA caters for all tastes with cider and gin bars, keykeg and international beer bars, food, merchandise stands and an array of old-timey pub games. There truly is something for everybody!
WHAT IS THE CHAMPION BEER OF BRITAIN?
Entertainment takes many forms at GBBF, with the festival’s annual hat day (strangest hat wins!) falling on the Thursday, a billing of musicians to keep feet shuffling around the main stage and, of course, the grand announcement of CAMRA’s ‘Champion Beer of Britain‘.
The Champion Beer of Britain award is CAMRA’s highest commendation for any cask ale, filtering entrees through regional festival competitions, judging at the Winter GBBF (sister event) and then finally on the opening day of the festival itself – Tuesday’s ‘Trade Day’. Bronze, Silver and Gold champions are declared across a plethora of styles, with gold winners battling it out to be the overall Supreme Champion Beer of Britain, conventionally announced on the Tuesday afternoon.
WHICH BEERS HAVE WON ‘CBOB’ IN THE PAST?
Previous ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ winners include national treasures such as London Pride (Fuller’s), Landlord (Timothy Taylor), Wherry (Woodfordes), Jeffrey Hudson Bitter (Oakham), Pale Rider (Kelham Island), Brewers Gold (Crouch Vale) and Harvest Pale (Castle Rock). Recently, the ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ award has been scooped up by relatively upstart outfits that have practiced innovative brewing to create interesting and progressive styles, styles such as Tiny Rebel’s red ale ‘Cwtch‘ and Siren Craft Brew’s coffee stout ‘Broken Dream‘ – each taking the podium within the last 5 competitions.
Winners new and old will confirm the adage that ‘CBoB’ status can make or break a brewery, with many expanding capacity and pushing themselves into overdrive simply to fulfil post-win demand from eager pubs and bars. A problem that many brewers dream of!
With so many beers to chose from, who will take supreme gold this year? Stay tuned to CAMRA’s socials channels to find out soon..
TIME AT THE BAR
Many champions have been forged and legends made at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival and this year promises to deliver it all.
As CAMRA’s flagship event returns to the Olympia after a 2 year hiatus, this year’s Great British Beer Festival is already one of the most hotly anticipated in recent memory.
Here’s to the next Champion Beer of Britain, and to CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival!