Last weekend me, my parents and fiancée visited beers of the world an annual event held in an area of the Birmingham NEC arenas good food show sectioned off by large wooden barrels. Now a few people unfamiliar with the event have perceived this as some sort of beer festival, well its not. Think beer festival with bells on and your getting closer, but its actually a very different affair altogether. The simple beer festival operates to promote and celebrate (usually) micro and regional cask ale brewers of the area and beyond, beers of the world draws ones attention to the brewing scene world wide, and beers from across the globe are served in bottled form into neat 50ml sample glasses.
Moments of calm before the event begins. Beer stalls in their final moments of preparation.
This year the beer range was (as last year) immense. In fact I felt this year the range of beers and beer styles available was even wider than last year, with a broad selection of wheat beers, pale ales, stouts and porters, oak aged barley wines, fruit beers, pilsner, hells, dunkel and bock style lagers, chocolate, coffee and honey beers, Japanese strong ales, new world India pale ales, American amber ales, Wheat Wines (some kind of hybrid style between wheat beer and barley wines), strong British bitters and various others were available with all but the very rarest beer styles being under the same roof. I myself was privileged to sample over twenty different beers during the day (something not so easily achievable in a beer festival as this would equate to over 10 pints of beer, a challenging volume), many of them fine beers indeed. But the beer of the day was neck and neck between the stunning showcase of English hops that is Meantime IPA, and the bold, balanced and immensely complex Thornbridge Bracia with its exuberant roast grain and warming alcohol signatured palate. Besides these Fullers London Porter (from Protz’s tasting board), Destutes Cascade, Brewdog Zeitgeist, Cains Bock, Brasserie Decazeau Saison Cazeau and a superbly balanced British pilsner called Three lions by a brand new craft brewer H2O Lager Co.
Educational seminars are also held including the light hearted non-demanding beer and food demonstration by the Heary Bikers. This year the two chefs pulled out some classic beer and food combinations for the audience, a great improvement from last years array of mostly random international pilsners with bits an pieces of savory dishes. In fact even the presentation was better as the boys made a decent job of explaining how and why the combinations work.
Sadly another seminar, about American craft beer was cancelled. However stealing the limelight once again was another classic seminar by Roger Protz, this time without his sidekick Jeff Evans. Some may remember my first encounter with Roger from an earlier post concerning last years beers of the world. But this year the subject was beer styles, or to put it more accurately historic British beer styles of most significance (playing to his strong points as a writer), and as members of the masterclass me and my Dad got to sample each of the 6 beers Roger discussed.
As a bonus I also managed to grab another autograph when I met face to face with Beers of the World magazine editor Sally Toms. A rather youthful, friendly character, BOTW subscribers will be familiar with her opening Editors Notes section of each magazine that brings a kind of positive down to earth introduction to each edition. But one of the more interesting additions to the show was the beer and food stand, which presented a vriety of bees to match ether sweet or savory food. I found the pairings well chosen myself tho I only managed to get hold of savory samples. In combination with the Hairy bikers this made for a good introductory education for those willing to explore beer and food education. Secondly it didn’t delve into anything too complex such as compex dishes with specific beers, but concentrated on beers most obvious tried and tested affinities, cheese, sausages, and chocolate based disserts.
Sadly at 5:40 final orders were called, and my whole other-worldly state of feeling like a kid in a giant sweet shop came slowly back to earth. Not a bad day out at all, and even if your not dedicated enough to stay the whole day various other events and stands are present selling various food and drink, gardening items and novel kitchen utensils. But overall Beers of the World live has proven to be a spectacular and well justified tribute to the world of beer and brewing, suitable to those already immersed in the beer world as well as those just getting in. The event shall have a lasting impression, lets hope for more of the same or maybe more next year.