GBBF 2013 : The Good, the Bad and the down right bloody frustrating

Here is some reviews I did live on location plus a look at the bottles I picked up too.


US Bottle Bar

I do enjoy attending the Trade session at GBBF. First thing I always do is head to the very well priced and well-stocked (before I get there) BSF (Bieres Sans frontieres) bottle bar. I picked up beers from Firestone Walker, Dogfish Head, Fifty Fifty, Ballast Point, Boulevard and Founders. Once my case was full I left it in the cloakroom and headed into the dizzying Mecca of ale.

Drinking with Friends

Drinking with lovely like-minded beer fans, that’s the main reason I go to GBBF. We can all get together and share our common interest. Beer is a great thing, it brings people together. It’s the perfect conversation starter…”What are you drinking?”. I do love a good bottled beer at home but sharing the experience with friends is another thing altogether.


Beats the pants off Earls Court. Not as hot and not as noisy.


Here is a collaboration review I did with the lovely Terry Kay of Beer Goggles Reviews of St Austell’s Big Job, a souped-up version of the Proper Job IPA. It was a close call whether this or Clown Shoes Galactic IPA was my favourite beer of the festival.



“A third of (insert beer name) please.”

Why do you have to specifically ask for a 3rd glass, even with my press pass I was only offered a pint or half. Come on CAMRA you should be encouraging us to drink smaller amounts of a range of beers not just pints of the same thing. We can do that in a pub, that’s why they have such a big selection. It’s a festival not a massive piss-up

“Foreign Beer?”

Yes you read that correctly, the beer served on the wonderful Biere Sans Frontier bars is still referred to as Foreign. I expected some 1970 bigoted Alf Garnet type to say “None of the foreign muck”. Isn’t “International beers” a better thing to say?

Despite being the most exciting and popular parts of the festival Biere Sans Frontier is treated like an unwanted relation.

First year I went to GBBF it was fantastic! A large “C” shape, One side German, Czech, Swedish and Danish – down the looooooong edge American cask and bottles – at the final turn Dutch and Italian. This year’s “foreign” offerings where spotted around the two main rooms. Bring it all back together!

The layout

Nothing new here…it’s a mystery why they put the beers in the order they do and an even bigger one to decipher once you’ve had a few beers.

“You can’t use that tripod without an escort!”

I took my tripod to GBBF, I put it up, I was told I couldn’t use it without an escort, I took it down, paid to put it in the cloakroom, carried around the entire next day and brought it home.

Down right bloody frustrating

One thing gets my goat more than anything else at GBBF is the selection of beer served at BSF and the supposed “system” employed by that bar.

First off I do think the selection of American cask was bigger this year but the choice on the day still remained lackluster.

I’m not expecting Three Floyds, Hill Farmstead, Bells and New Glarus, but at least represent the country you are showcasing.

Why do I want to drink British style bitters and IPAs from American breweries, there are hundreds in the festival. More barrel-aged old ales, sours, amped up Belgian-styles, barley wines, tastebuds destroying IPA…I want beer that shouts AMERICAN!

Why do he have a myriad of Pete and Jim’s Local Tap House, and Generic Brewing Co beers, if you haven’t got loads of space and have to rotate beers have a better selected choice and more of it so regardless of what day you visit you can drink the same beer as the person who comes the next day, just like you can on the British bars.

Less choice of better beers works for me, just make sure its amazing stuff and you’ve got a nice spread of styles. Look at the selection at Copenhagen Beer Celebration: Founders, Three Floyds, Hoppin Frog, Jester King, Anchorage, Firestone Walker, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Co, Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Westbrook Brewing Co. All winners, this isn’t just my opinion, it’s a fact!

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