At the opening of Beer Exposed last night we earnestly hoped to have our palates wowed and our beer knowledge enhanced. The expo has the strapline "explore, educate, enlighten" but we can reliably report that what's actually going on is a whole bunch of people getting delightfully drunk on many different types of beer and only realising it when they start giggling at a man dressed in a Chinese jacket with the nametag "Angus".
Your first stop on entering is a big Shepherd's Neame display about picking hops on stilts and fermenting but what you really want to be doing is drinking, not studying the history of beer making. Smiling staff are on hand to dole out wee tasters and were remarkably friendly and knowledgeable, happily bearing with our request to taste everything on offer. You get your own beer glass too, so once you decide which brew is best for you, you fill up your glass and guzzle it down.
With your stomach lined, you can then venture upstairs where there's hundreds of different beers for you to try from the posh (Kasteel Cru) to the animal-oriented (Moosehead lager) to the sacred (Swedish God lager) and the sweet (Fruili). Ask to taste otherwise you might be lured into buying, which of course, is not the point. Before we got far too sloshed to be judicious, we particularly enjoyed the lemon Superbock (citrussy, refreshing), Budweiser Budvar dark beer (chocolatey, smokey) and Punk IPA (good name and very drinkable glug glug glug).
Getting in free makes this a very enjoyable experience if you're partial to drink. But to fork out £14 for standard entry we reckon you'd either have to be an industry person (in which case you've probably bagged a freebie) or a true connoisseur who's genuinely devoted to ale. Either that or a borderline alcoholic who's done their sums and reckons they can get more than their money's worth in the 4 hours this show is open than they could in their local. The beer is great and we tried stuff we'd never normally think to buy a pint of but we like drinking in places with a bit of atmosphere and unfortunately, the Business Design Centre can only be a dead air exhibition centre.
Image by Chris Osburn