There is probably only one word to describe my experience at the Great British Beer Festival – overwhelmed.
As we walked in we headed to the Belgium section – mainly because it was right by the entrance. The first thing I saw was a cask of Cantillon!
There were beers from around the world. This year it was helped at The Olympia. The place was huge, but when we were there (during the day), it wasn’t too crowded.
The upper level had seating and we could easily get a seat. The only criticism I have is the food choices were lacking….However we did manage to find a thai food stand that had amazing spring rolls! And another food venue that had samosas.
For anyone wanted to go to the GBBF Festival I would recommend the following:
1. Do your research and select the beers you want to try or focus on a certain country – This is obvious for every beer festival, but I would stress it for this one! I should have done more research. I did ask some people who were more familiar with the European beer scene than I was, but it is still hard to narrow it down. Even the USA section alone was overwhelming for me – tons of breweries I haven’t heard of and sooooo many interesting beers.
2. As soon as you arrive get a drink (cuz it’s hard not to), then save yourself a table upstairs as your docking spot.
3. Similar to Mondial, go in the daytime during the week and leave by 6pm. Then it gets a bit crowded with the after work crowd.
4. Plan for multiple days at the festival – Do to our limited time in England and our busy schedule we only planned for 1 day!
5. Bring change – more samples (1/3 pints) were £1.50-2.50. With exact change you stand in the line for less time!
Definitely have to go back!! Great festival, big space, not too crowded, with so may options.
We went back to London for our last few days in England.
We checked out a great pub in covent gardens called The Harp – highly recommend. It is a small pub that serves sausages. Unfortunately when we got there, just after lunch, the food had run out. Fortunately there is a small bakery/store 2 doors down where you can buy anything from fish and chips to several sandwiches and you can bring it back to the pub. And for the record, the steak and kidney pie was amazing!
Afterwards we went to Borough market to The Rake. The Rake is small pub with a bunch of craft beers on tap mainly from UK and North America including…Sleeman Honey Brown!
Just around the corner they also have an off license called UTO Beer.
We we’re having a party that night so we picked up a few beers.
While out in the country, my husband decided to surprise me with a real ale beer festival! How I was unaware of a beer festival within my vicinity is beyond me!
We went to the Blackdown Hills Beer Festival, which was out in the middle of the countryside. There were 45 cask beers and ciders to choose from! Most from the West part of England, and some of the bigger breweries around England. I was really impressed with the selection!
Oh…and when I refer to countryside I mean the countryside. What festival do you have someone dressed up as a cow serving you beer?
Our next stop was Cheddar! I was super excited to go because I’m a huge turophile (cheese lover).
In Cheddar we were able to see parts of the cheese making process.
Cheddar Gorge – Mendip hills
Cheddar gorge cheese shop where you can taste about 20 different cheeses.
- Here they are making the cheddar. It’s one of the first stages of cheese making. You can go in and out of the cheese factory to see different stages of the process throughout the day.
Cheese making a couple of hours later
Cheese affinage – the ripening stage. Here they mature the cheddar for 7-15 months at 11C. This room holds 750 cheeses.
We went into the Gough’s Cave and saw these cave aged cheeses ripening.
I found this great beer store with so many beers I didn’t recognize. The guy working there was really helpful and helped me pick out a handfull of popular beers.
And of course…you can’t visit this area without enjoy some Scrumpy and Thatchers cider. Wish I brought some home, but there’s always next time.
We spent a day in Bath. My husband tried to get us a brewery tour at Butcombe Brewery. Beyond his control it didn’t work out, however, they recommended us to go to the Pig and Fiddle and while we were there they ended up picking up the tab for our meals and beers!
This is the best pub in Bath and I definitely recommend it.
Another pub worth mentioning, even though we didn’t have a drink there, is the Saracens Head. It’s Bath’s oldest pub, originally build in 1713.
After Bath we had a pint at a pub in the country side. For those of you who go to Bar Hop in Toronto you will recognize this picture we took at this pub.
First day in London was a pub crawl! We arrived at 8am and our train to leave to Devon was at midnight. So we thought it was a perfect day to do a pub crawl! We met a friend from Scotland and our family in London for lunch and started our crawl.
Some of the places we went to that I highly recommend:
1. Craft Beer Co. – 82 Leather Lane
This is an awesome pub for any beer nerd. I was completely overwhelmed by their cask selection. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures…mainly because I was too excited, but check them out on Pinterest.
2. Ye Olde Mitre – 1 Ely Court, Ely Place
This was my favorite pub of the day. It’s very small and hidden away. Normally after work it’s packed with standing room only. However, since we went during the Olympics and many people were working from home, it was empty.
3. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – 145 Fleet St.
This pub is quite big, however they have a bunch of separate rooms to make it cozy. It also has multiple levels.
They had some great vintage breweriana around this pub.
4. The Old Bank of England – 194 Fleet St.
This pub is beautiful. It’s an old bank converted into a pub. It use to be the Bank of England for 87 years!
The other interesting thing about this pub is the Sweeney Todd connection. Here’s what their website says:
The Old Bank of England has a somewhat more gruesome connection with the past too. It allegedly lies between the site of the barber shop owned by Sweeney Todd, and the pie shop owned by his mistress, Mrs Lovett. It is said to be in the tunnels and vaults below the building that Sweeney Todd’s victims were butchered – before being cooked and sold in pies to Mrs Lovett’s unsuspecting customers.
And finally we ended the day with a roasted duck family meal.
I can’t believe it has been months since I’ve posted!
And it’s been months since I’ve entered the world of homebrewing. I’m completely addicted. I have to say it has consumed a lot of my spare time.
Before I get into my homebrewing journey I have to catch up on posting for the last couple of months. First post back will be my trip to England in August! Stay tune…