I was at the Great British Beer Festival yesterday. Purely for professional purposes you understand. Though I did have a couple of pints when networking, and maybe a few more for research, with perhaps one or two to wash down my food and maybe one for the road, it should be clear the focus was mainly on work. Whilst I could still focus that is.
I made a mess of the travel arrangements so arrived late, but on the plus side I met noted beer historian Pete Brown at Earl's Court. His next book
will be out on November 8th, which is conveniently shortly before my birthday (hint, hint).
There was a lifetime's supply of beers lined up in the hall but I only had one beer on my tick list: Greene King 5X. A living fossil, this 12% ABV oak aged beer is normally only used for blending with another beer to make Suffolk Strong (6% ABV). It undergoes a log maturation in vats at the the brewery, like a stock ale or porter of old. I'd first read about it years ago but never even heard of Greene King letting anyone drink it unblended until quite recently.
However of late a few beer writers have managed to get hold of some, which had started to raise my hopes that I might one day blag some myself. Perhaps I thought a trip to Bury St Edmunds for the next IBD AGM would be in order? As it happened Greene King decided to make limited quantities available at the GBBF which solved my problem. I joined the queue early (which earned me three seconds of fame) and after a short scrum I had a 1/3 pint in my hand.
Whilst some have to settle for getting historic beer from bottles I was able to get some on draught. It's a hazy, mid-brown beer with a taste of sherry about it, combined with notes of sour cider and barley wine. Or "urgh, that's yuck" as the lovely Lisa put it. Personally I liked it, though 1/3 pint was enough.
Then it was back to the grindstone: networking, researching, networking, researching, networking, pork scratchings. And after that it was time to go home.