GBBF 2010, I attended August 3rd to the 6th. I found last year that it wasn't worth sticking around for Saturday as a lot of the good beers were gone and the crowds are out of control on Friday night and Saturday anyway.
Had a great time again this year at the show. Tried 73 beers total, with most of those being very nice beers. I had a better success rate than last year, I think. For me personally, Thornbridge was the best brewery at the show across their product line. But that's just out of the beers I tasted, naturally, and I made barely a dent in the beers offered.
I noticed again this year that many, many of the brewers are using American hops and producing Golden or Premium ales which tastes pretty much like American West Coast Pale Ales. They're very nice beers. But I tasted more Cascades at this show than I did Goldings which is a little strange. Last year, I avoided those beers and went for the more Goldings centric, or UK hop centric beers. This year, I just went for good beers regardless and found a lot of American tasting beers.
These are the standout beers, good and bad, in no particular order.
Beers I loved:
1. Thornbridge Jaipur IPA(5.9% abv): Toasty, hoppy, dry, bitter and enough malt to balance. Very American in character. My favorite beer at the show.
Notes from brewer: Maris Otter malt, Vienna, Chinook, Centennial and Ahtanum hops.
2. Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild(6.0% abv): Strong, full flavored mild, at 6.0% abv.
3. Thornbridge Hopton(4.3% abv): Well balanced hoppy pale ale. Complex and tasty.
4. Marston's Ringwood Old Thumper(5.6% abv): Malt dominant amber bitter. Lots of biscuit/bread with a slight touch of hops to balance it out nicely.
5. Fuller's Brewer's Reserve #2(7.7% abv): Sweet, full bodied strong ale with notes of cherries and wood. Hugely complex.
Notes from the program: A strong, full-bodied and malty ale, aged in 30 year old single malt casks for a period of 500 days. Infused with the flavours and characteristics of the whisky that has absorbed into the wood. Hoppy bitterness, tangy marmalade and smoky vanilla are all there.
6. Brewdog Punk IPA(6.0% abv): Strong, rich and hoppy like an American IPA. Spicy, fruity, rich and bitter. Nicely done. A touch on the sweet side.
7. Triple fff Alton's Pale Ale(4.8% abv): Toasty and malty with a tasty lingering bitterness.
8. Thornbridge Lord Marples(4.0% abv): A toasty, bready, biscuity amber bitter with enough hops to balance it. Malt takes the lead here but with an excellent balance.
9. Timothy Taylor's Landlord(4.3% abv): Heavy biscuit aroma and flavor with a lot of earthy hop character. A great classic bitter.
10. Oak Leaf IPA(5.5% abv): Bitter, flowery IPA with a slight sweet malty touch.
11. Cheddar Bitter Bully(3.8% abv): Strong citrus, lemon. Very hoppy, resinous. Clean malt with some sweetness to balance. Clean lingering tangy bitterness with some cereal character.
12. Thornbridge Kipling(5.2% abv): Very boppy and bitter with nice biscuit notes.
13. Barngate's Red Bull Terrier(4.8% abv): Malty with a nice earthy bitterness. Medium mouthfeel, dry finish.
14. Brewster's Hop a Doodle Doo(4.3% abv): Not as hoppy as the name implies but quite good. Citrus, cereal. Nicely balanced.
15. Facers Flintshire Bitter(3.7% abv): Lovely biscuit aroma/flavor. Malt is very clean. Slight lemon twang. Hops subdued. Beautiful balance.
16. Kinver Pail Ale(4.4% abv): Citrus, cereal. Clean. Dry finish with some sweetness in the middle. Another nicely balanced beer!
17. St Austell Proper Job IPA(4.5% abv): Dry and hoppy with lots of biscuit. American tasting IPA.
Notes from brewer: Uses 100% Maris Otter malt, Chinook, Cascade and Willamette hops. 45 IBUs. Fermented at 15 C (59 F) for 44 hours, then allowed to run up to 18 C (64.4) to finish, total of 7 days primary. English yeast strain used.
18. Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Country Ale(6.0% abv): Nice amber, mid level strong ale.
19. Young's Special London(6.4% abv): Quite hoppy. Full mouthfeel. Some woodiness from hops. Biscuit. Nice lingering bitterness.
Notes from brewer: Maris Otter malt, 7% Crystal. Fuggles and Goldings. 45-ish IBUs.
Beers I hated:
1. Shardlow Goldenhop(4.1% abv): Strange hot dog character that was not very pleasant.
2. Arundel ASB(4.5% abv): Phenols in aroma. Plastic character throughout. Not good.
3. Moorehouse's Permier Bitter(3.7% abv): Sulphur aroma gives way to crappy phenolic beer. The worst beer I had this year or last.
4. Stone This Beer Tastes Better on Tap (on tap!) (8.9% ABV) : Too bloody sweet. Hoppy as hell. Way, way way too sweet for me. I hated this beer and considered it undrinkable. I enjoy a good IPA and am certainly not against hops. But this beer was just awful. I was disappointed too because I normally love Stone's beers.
Notes from the website for the show: This special IPA is brewed with 100% British White (or Extra Pale) Malt, East Kent Goldings, Target and Boadicea hops, and the cask is dry-hopped with Citra.