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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Beer summits for all

It's one of my broken record mantras: beer is the most sociable drink in the world. And this week proves it - if only people reported on the GBBF as much as they did about Obama, the world would be a happier place.

ATJ posted recently about how the sad demise of Beers of the World magazine means "we're all beer bloggers now". He wasn't criticising blogging at all, merely saying that it's increasingly the only outlet for those of us who want to write about beer. But his comments did lead to a bit of a discussion about the merits of blogging versus other writing.

Without wishing to get into that, whatever your views, the existence of blogging, Facebook and Twitter has revolutionised beer appreciation and led to a far more diverse, colourful, fun and interesting beer community than existed when I began writing. Everyone was talking about GBBF and building the anticipation and when we got there the atmosphere was fantastic. It was great to meet Jay R Brooks, Mark Dredge, Beer Nut, Woolpack Dave, Bionic Laura and the remarkable Laurent Mousson for the first time after much online interaction. Great also to see again Impy Malting, Stephen Beaumont, ATJ, Stonch and Boak, all enjoying themselves. Beer brought us all together and really that's the only argument you ever really need to make in its favour.

Mrs PBBB was lured along to the Guild of Beer Writers event and was so charmed by meeting everyone that she was immediately roped in to come to GBBF trade day too. She was quite taken aback to realise that she has a cult following of her own, mainly consisting of people asking how she puts up with my beer-related behaviour.

I semi-retract the comment about 'freakish volunteers'. There are always a number of remarkable specimens, but I made it sound like I was slagging off people en masse. Once I would have. Now, I don't know what CAMRA have been doing, and I'm over-generalising based on isolated events, but I'd like to offer up the following illustration of how this event has changed since I slagged it off, somewhat notoriously, in Man Walks into a Pub.

2005:

Mrs PBBB: "Hello, I quite like blonde and summer ales. Do you have anything like that?"

Volunteer on Fuller's stand: "We've got this one that's strong and gets you pissed quickly, and this one that's weaker and gets you less pissed. Now which do you want? I'm busy."

This week was the first time I've been able to tempt her back since.

2009:

Bloke standing next to me at East of England stand: "Um... I'm not sure what I want. I don't know where to start."

Volunteer on stand: "Well do you think you prefer darker, maltier beers, or lighter, fresher, hoppier beers?

Bloke: "Um... darker and maltier I think."

Volunteer: "Well let's start you off with a little taster of this one and see how you get on..."

Wonderful.

I'd be back there tonight but Leeds beckons. A visit to the Beer Boy in his wonderful retail emporium, followed by reading and signing in Borders from 6-8pm, with the very high likelihood of beverages in the North Bar afterwards. Please come and join me if you're north of Earl's Court.


6 comments:

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

Christ in a bucket how on earth is your liver holding up on all this?

impymalting said...

I have to agree that the internet has completely opened up the beer community here for me and thanks to that, this GBBF filled me with optimism. You encouraged me to go to the Trade Day when I first wrote about the GBBF on my blog--terrific advice!

Sid Boggle said...

Don't be so bloody grudging - CAMRA didn't do anything, but then they didn't do anything in 2005 when the Fullers staff (who would have been CAMRA members, but still employed by Fullers - that's how the brewery bars work) offered such narrow-minded assistance.

CAMRA is 25,000 members bigger now than then, and while they aren't all metrosexual sophisticates, some of them at least have some idea of the new psychogeography of beer. I met a friend from one of Melissa's tastings at Borough, and she described me to her family as a beer 'guru' - I'm still blushing, but I've done 5 years behind a bar, patiently talking about what we sold, where it came from, and I bet my attitude isn't unique nowadays...

Pete said...

Sid,

I'm sorry that, as a CAMRA volunteer, you've managed to take offence at a post that retracts previous criticism of CAMRA volunteers and instead offers sincere praise. I did preface my comments with an acknowledgement of the fact that I might be generalising from isolated incidents, but to me - purely subjectively, as someone who has attended GBBF as a non-CAMRA member every year for the last 11 years - my observations were offered as a random illustration of a broader trend. I do believe CAMRA have become more user-friendly over the last five years. And I think that's a very good thing. And I really didn't expect to piss anyone off by pointing that out.

It has nothing to do with 'metrosexual sophisticates' - it has everything to do with sharing a genuine passion for beer and being a worthy ambassador for beer at its highest profile event - as I'm sure you are.

As for the other comment you left criticising another recent poster - I've taken a very rare decision to censor it - in fact I think it's the first time I've ever censored a genuine post. Please believe me and don't take offence when I say it would have made you look a bigger twat than anyone else if I'd passed it.

Hope you're having a good GBBF. It truly is the best one I've ever been to.

BLTP said...

we had a good time at GBBF on we weds, the woman on the foreign beer stand was particularly helpful.
The main area for improvement is the location, Earl's court is just a rotten venue. What about the O2 or maybe a semi outdoor venue and some more and better seating.

In a similar vein what do people think of this event ?
http://www.pubinthepark.com/index.asp

Tandleman said...

The second experience is exactly as it should be. I'm glad that's what happened. It's been a practice for years on BSF.

As you say, things are looking up. It's been a fantastic fest so far, but I'm off now for the Friday onslaught. Then we'll see.