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16-08-2013, 09:22
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Elland’s 1872 Porter (http://www.ellandbrewery.co.uk/1872-porter/)becomes top dog in the Great British Beer Festival and I note shreds of predictable behaviour rag and rash their way through social media. There were no bomb hop amidst the winners while trills of old man’s beer comb their way down the wires; elsewhere I read we’re cooler than you schoolyard taunts and the fact that third placed Jarl at least has some hops is a poor consolation.

I wonder why some people feel disappointed?

This is CAMRA’s show and dismayed as I am that there’s no Kernel, Camden or Magic Rock on show (as predictable as the signs of craftites’ tedium at the winner) and that the American cans on display cannot — apparently — be sold, this is their show and they can do what they like.

I judged on Tuesday morning and out of the five beers I received I am pretty sure I got Elland and it was brilliant — my first thought was how Lowestoft, in that I took in the sort of smoky hints on the nose that wouldn’t be out of place in a box that had once held smoked herrings; then there was plenty of chocolate (milk), coffee (mocha), vanilla and raisins as well as an all enveloping darkness that put me in mind of that hour before the first silvers of dawn start to appear in between gaps in the curtains. I think this was our table’s winner.

I also had a best bitter, which — having being unimpressed down the years when judging this category — surprised and delighted me with its sprightly condition, lychee-like notes on the nose and a fan-dance of tropical fruit (without being too overwhelming) on the palate.

Meanwhile once down in the hall, I got in line with the likes of oak-smoked Schlenkerla Rauch, Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, Matuska Raptor, De Molen Rye IPA, St Arnold Amarillo Hefe, Greene King 5X, Boulevard Tank 7 and, er, on the recommendation of a fellow writer, Barnsley Bitter. Even though I love well-hopped beers (judging in Rimini earlier this year I fell in love with several Italian DIPAs) I don’t just want hop bombs, that’s like those big fat men who always insist on having the hottest curries.

Following on from my post about smugness (http://maltworms.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/smugness.html), there does seem to be this element of spite and childishness developing within some sectors of the craft beer ‘movement’, which ironically enough is a natural mirror to the Colonel Bogey, green ink letter writers to What’s Brewing who treat cask beer (though they call it real ale) like a holy relic. Both sides are exceedingly irritating and increasingly foam-flecked — or as Orwell put it: ‘The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which’.

Oh well, wish I were going to the London Craft Beer Festival (http://www.londoncraftbeerfestival.co.uk/) this weekend.

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