Bristol Beer Festival 2015

Malt Musings: I’m Not Bitter, and Neither Are Fucking They.

Few weeks back I hit the CAMRA Bristol Beer Festival for the first time. It is slightly crazy that thing, it sells out remarkably fast and had insane queues for the early tickets. So, I tried it for the first time and…well it is pretty much similar to most fests, a big bunch of beers, but not much else. In fact a lot of the issues I listed with the Bath festival back in 2009 are still present in festivals today, which is a pity.

But that is not what I’m talking about today – what got me was when I saw a beer – that listed IPA in its name, was categorised as a bitter by the label on the cask. They knew IPAs existed, other beers were marked as IPA, but this one was not. So my friend and I started perusing. Basically it seemed any beer they were unsure about was listed as a bitter, no matter how little it matched that category. The term “Golden Ale” did not appear once best I could tell, despite a couple seeming to fit that nicely – most tellingly Oakham’s Dolphin Dance, No sign of an American Pale Ale, probably therefore shoved under bitter as well.

On dark beers they did better, Stouts, Porters, Milds and Black IPAs all get their turn. Lighter beers – fuck it, probably a bitter.

Maybe most of them were bitters, I didn’t try all of the beers, but based on the blatantly misidentified beers I did see I am wondering, At a beer festival, a collection of massive beer geeks – labelling a beer called “IPA” as an IPA should not be too much to ask. I know there is often debate over the lines of various beer styles, but this seemed to just be half arsing it.

When you have fifty, a hundred, or more beers to choose from, basic information like that is vital to help you make a choice at a glance. The guide book they gave you did better, but still this is basic stuff here. Lots of people don’t like bitters – and, at a glance, there were very few beers for them to enjoy it seemed. Because so many beers seem to be mistyped.

Help people enjoy beer. You are a beer festival. It is pretty much your entire purpose.

Please.

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