Going to the pub is lovely. There's the bar, there's the row of pumps, each one a gateway to a different beer experience. There may be games to play with your friends. There may be some entertainment laid on by the management. There's food and places to sit and sip your drink. Imagine that pub experience magnified and enlarged to fill Earl's Court. That's the CAMRA organised Great British Beer Festival, that is.
For this week, the exhibition hall will become the biggest pub in the world, with over 450 real ales to sample alongside guest beers from abroad, ciders and perries. Entertainment ranges from a string quartet on Tuesday, steel band on Wednesday, Whitesnake covers on Thursday to the obligatory Abba tribute band on Friday. Bar games, pub quizzes and street theatre plus a selection of hot food and snacks will also be available, there are tutored tastings and last year's Hat Day is making a return on Thursday 3 August. Anyone attending on that day is invited to bring a hat with them; some breweries will be giving out hats to visitors. Why hats? Don't know, but it's a beer festival, everyone's having a drink, it'll make sense after a few...
The festival may be packaged and promoted as a very large-scale visit to your local, but not everyone's local has a podcast, a creche and servings of third of pint glasses... it's beer but a bit better.
Great British Beer Festival, Earl's Court, 1 - 5 August. Open5.00pm to 10.30pm Tuesday, 12.00noon to 10.30pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 11.00am to 7.00pm Saturday. Admission £7.00, Saturday £6.00, discounts available for CAMRA members. For more information and tickets, go to the Festival website here.