What a week it's going to be - just look at the schedule. A whole host of fantastic beery events taking place all over the capital.
Brewery open days, one-off brews, beer and food pairings, it all looks lovely, doesn't it?
Trouble is, there's hardly space for any beer in this room, given the massive, trumpeting elephant that's stamping all over common sense and reason as we speak.
IT'S THE SAME FUCKING WEEK AS THE GBBF!!!
The same week. Who in their right mind could possibly think that this insane scheduling is a good idea, hmm?
Cards on the table
OK, so I have a few issues with the Great British Beer Festival:
Firstly, there's a big chance the Champion Beer of Britain winners will leave me scratching my head, and voices (and palates) like mine will likely never be represented on the tasting panel.
Secondly, the CBoB categories themselves are limited with some baffling and arbitrary restrictions and inconsistencies, and this extends into the programme notes which make CAMRA appear less than authoritative on the subject of beer.
And finally, while I don't agree with those who think the Campaign should embrace non-real dispense, I have long felt that the British beer selection is rather conservative and perhaps not representative of the current state of play in the country (where are all the sours, the saisons and even the black IPAs?)
|You cannot compete with this so don't try|
I'm a pragmatist. I'll try to get as much as I can out of LBW - particularly Southwark Brewing's rare casks day tomorrow, and the Thornbridge takeover at the Craft Beer Co, Clerkenwell.
But I like the GBBF. I've been going for 20 years, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to attend every session this year too.
I mean, come on. The GBBF only lasts for four and a half days - does LBW absolutely have to overlap it completely?!? Couldn't it maybe start next Friday, on the last full day of GBBF?
(Though a completely separate week might be better - did you ever stop and think that GBBF staff who might be working during the set-up and take-down phases might like to join in?)
Some of the activities look brazenly provocative: The Camden Town brewery will be selling beer and breakfast outside the trade session on Tuesday morning, while later that day, Brewdog Shepherds Bush are hosting an 'after party'.
Excuse me? Two of the best known non-cask breweries in the country unofficially tacking on their own events to CAMRA's flagship (and no doubt using them to promote other events later in the week for folk to attend in preference to later GBBF sessions...)
We all have limits
Look, people can only drink so much. Even in isolation, a fully-realised LBW or GBBF week would involve rather a lot more drinking than any other time of year.
To expect people to indulge in both would be irresponsible, and so, one has to sadly conclude that the primary purpose of London Beer Week is to compete with the GBBF.
'Hey, look at us, we're craa-aaft, come to our party instead, we're better than stuffy old CAMRA! Look, we got a DJ!'
No doubt some willy-waver somewhere is waiting to add up the combined attendance figures for the many events right across the capital that comprise London Beer Week, hoping to be able to claim, spuriously, that London Beer Week is more popular.
Perhaps the ultimate insult though, is that the London Beer Week schedule lists the GBBF, as if it were just another event taking place during the week, on a par with a tour of the Essex street brewery.
To my mind, this is the equivalent of a 20 pence tip - more insulting than ignoring it altogether!
So, that's where my loyalties lie. The GBBF is the main event. I'd have a lot more time for London Beer Week, both literally and figuratively if you'd only just do the damn thing at the end of June or something!
GBBF 2015 runs from August 11-15. Tickets available here. My first timer's guide to the GBBF is here.