CAMRA Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) 2011 is almost upon us, with the first staff being on site at Earl’s Court in less than a fortnight. I will be there from Saturday 30th July until Saturday 6th August to work on Bières Sans Frontières (BSF). Yesterday the beer list was released (handily pasted here by Craig) and my, what a beer list it is too. Bigger and better than ever this year with four separate bars (one bar per stillage) there will certainly be plenty to try. In total there will be beers from fifteen different countries for sampling (in addition to the four that make up the UK of course!)
American cask beer at GBBF 2004 (from BSF photo gallery)
I’m hoping to work on USA cask beers and decided to take a look at how many beers to potentially expect. There are 189 beers (cask and bottle) from 89 USA breweries. This is by all means a small proportion of the total but certainly more than in previous years of GBBF. Of these 80 have a cask offering and 9 are only available in bottles. They range in size from big players like Sierra Nevada right down to micros such as Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery & General Store.
Some stats for tickers: 21 states are represented with the top five origin states being Oregon (11), Maryland (10,) California (9), Colorado (8) and Massachusetts (7). 5 breweries from Portland, OR; 4 from Baltimore, MD and 3 from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s possible to drink beers from breweries whose names begin with 19 different letters of the alphabet.
I’m not sure the exact number of new breweries represented this year, though I’m sure this information will be available in the BSF programme during the festival. There’s a handy list builder on the CAMRA website which can aid you in designing your own drinking plan. There is also a rating and comments system which may give you some indication of what beers will be the most popular. Bear in mind that there may be last minute substitutions or that a beer may sell out before you get a chance to try it; so don’t go getting disappointed if the one beer you visited the festival to try just isn’t available. Deal with it, there’s plenty more to choose from!
I’m not going to go with any plan in mind for which American beers I want to try, I’m hoping to taste as many as possible. There’s plenty of my favourite styles (IPA and porter) and some intriguing other beers (barrel aged, added chillies, rye) to keep me satisfied during the festival. And for post festival I have a shopping list of bottles which I’ll have to narrow down into what can fit in my suitcase. Notice I’m naming no names for a better chance of the beers I want to try being available!
See you all there soon!