The Great British Beer Festival’s main attraction isn’t remotely British

The biggest beer festival in the UK is just around the corner but one of the main lures this year isn’t British at all.

Held at Olympia in London, the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF for short) is a matter of days away, starting on 8th August. It’s CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale) flagship festival and is celebrating its 40th year.

This year things are a bit different with the inclusion of English wine but that’s not what has caught attention of myself and others. What has is the US Brewers Association bar (as it arguably has in previous years).

The bar can be found at other events such as Craft Beer Rising but is particularly making waves this year at GBBF. The ‘USA and New World Bottles Bar’ will be a main attraction as “Rare visitors include an imperial raspberry stout, an IPA aged in old gin barrels and a rum barrel aged coconut quadruple,” according to CAMRA.

Craft beer lovers will no doubt be queuing at the bar to try American delights such as New Belgium’s limited edition Fat Tire Belgian White and Fifty Fifty’s Eclipse Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. There will also be beers from Australia and New Zealand.

Update: I’ve been informed that the new version of Fat Tire hasn’t made it across the Atlantic for GBBF. Other highlights, however, include Epic Brainless on Peaches and Gigantic’s Grimalkin Amorphotron.

Many of the 100+ beers behind the bar won’t be available anywhere else in the UK. As you can see above, CAMRA is using this a way to lure punters in.

“The only bar that interests me at GBBF,” said a commenter on Facebook in reference to the bar.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing that beer from round the world is celebrated at GBBF. You’ll find some decent brews from places like Germany and Belgium, too. I just think it’s ironic that a lot of the most sought after beers will not be from the UK.

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4 thoughts on “The Great British Beer Festival’s main attraction isn’t remotely British

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  1. I think that many consider the US bar at GBBF to be the main feature at the festival to be entirely a matter of personal perspective. I used to feel the same, but the attraction for me is now trying cask beer from small British breweries that I never see in London. That became my perspective because I realise my fascination for the US cask bar was limiting my experience – last year I only had one beer from that bar, and my experience was all the better for it. Something to think about when you step through the Olympia doors in a couple of weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have mixed feelings about the “craft” explosion in the UK and Europe. Having lived in the UK and now in the US for a very long time I have been to the GBBF many times and in the last ten years I’ve seen how many breweries are trying to garner a piece of this “new” growth market. Even well established breweries like Fullers etc now have “craft” lines. However while a lot of UK patrons are there to look for unique “craft” offerings I go to GBBF in search ofregional gems making solid cask beers in traditional styles which I suppose some people now considering boring. Unfortunately I noticed some well established breweries weren’t even represented at GBBF last time there and i worry a little about their economic viability. The UK has a long brewing tradition and regional beer styles that I hope aren’t overshadowed by the quest for whats new and novel in the same way I hope the same wave doesn’t impact traditional lager consumption in Bavaria, kolsch in Cologne or alt brewing in Dortmund. Curiously there are now several breweries in the US focused on traditional British real ale served onsite just as a few have popped up making mainly traditional German lagers – ostensibly as a reaction to the huge offerings of often very hoppy, sour, high ABV etc “craft’ beer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Does this indicate that the UK craft brewers have a long way to go to match the “creativity” of their US counterparts, is our beer boring and would a UK bar at a US festival be poorly received?
    Good thread!


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