Last Friday we attended the Campaign for Real Ale's beer festival at Earl's Court convention centre. This is really something I should have done while I still had some tolerance for alcohol.
I'd spoken at a conference at Earl's Court before, but in one of the halls in the upper areas. I'd never been on the main floor, but let me tell you it was huge. And instead of being bedecked in conventiony carpet and grey corporate dividers with booths and banners it was just concrete flooring, dim lighting and rack after rack after rack after rack of kegs of beer.
The idea is that you rent a glass and you just go up and get a pint or a half or a third of your brew of choice. It's a bit of lottery, though - the beers are labelled with their quaint and curious names and their alcohol by volume (ABV) and their price. That's it. No stars for quality (who would believe it anyway?) or recommendations from previous drinkers (now that would be a good idea).
The Vol-in-Law started us off with a banana beer, and it was pretty darn disgusting. Though I admit, it did taste of banana - peel.
Subsequent selections proved hardly more successful. And I was a bit wary of drinking too much since we did have to pick up the critter from day care later on. I know I'm a light weight these days but I wanted each and every beer randomly selected to taste great. And they didn't. Although a few selections were passable, notably a pale ale from Northern Ireland.
The attendees were overwhelmingly male and yet there was shockingly little eye candy for the female gaze. There were however lots of novelty hats (giant sombreros, plush union jack top hats, etc) and t-shirts with "witty" slogans - you know the type "I don't have a drinking problem, I drink, I get drunk, I fall down - no problem." And so on... I only saw one that caused me to snicker...Front: A man has to believe in something. Back: I believe I'll have another beer.
Strangely we fell prey to this and bought into this and purchased Buddy a black t-shirt with the imperial measurement symbol and the words "half pint" for way too much money.
All in all, I'm glad we went merely because it satisfied my curiosity. I've been meaning to go for years and just never got around to it. I won't be going back.