Last weekend saw the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds; unless you’ve been carefully avoiding both twitter and large portions of the beer blogging scene in the last week, you’ll know this already.
It’s tough to pick out a highlight, but certainly one of the more chaotically entertaining sessions was the Live Beer Blogging; ten breweries from around the UK, each getting five minutes to present their finest beer to eagerly-tweeting and barely-listening bloggers.
I’m not going to go into great detail about each of those beers; plenty of excellent bloggers – people like The Baron, and Beers I’ve Known – have done a far better job that I would manage. It’s also nearly a week after the fact, so it’s not very live. So non-live, in fact, that it’s almost un-dead!
Instead, I’m taking a step back and a wider view. This was a fantastic opportunity for ten breweries to present the beer they were most proud of, to a roomful of fanatical beer drinkers who love to spread the word.
Sadly, what we got was citra-laden pale ale after citra-laden pale ale. Oh, there was a bit of centennial thrown in for light relief, and Otley at least turned up with a black version (Oxymoron, easily the most honestly named Black IPA out there) but it was like sitting in an American craft beer festival.
Don’t get me wrong. I love American hops. Some of my favourite beers are overflowing with them (I’m thinking of you, Southville Hop). And many of those beers were seriously tasty. I just wish there had been more variety, and that a few more breweries had the courage to remember that they were British craftsmen who didn’t have to slavishly follow the moment’s hot trend.
There’s just something slightly depressing sat in an event like that and find yourself thinking “oh yay, more citra” when sniffing the next beer.
Two breweries did dare to stand out from the crowd. Innis & Gunn arrived with their Scottish Pale Ale – a gloriously sticky sweet, whisky aged beer that never ceases to divide opinion. Personally, I like them a lot but I think I’m in a minority.
And then there was Brains (or, given the title of this post, should that be Braaaaaiiiins) who not only shied away from US hops but actually turned up with a Mild. In May. CAMRA would have been proud. Sweet, creamy, dark and delicious; I’ve always been a big mild fan and this is definitely right up there with the best.
So British breweries, please don’t forget that there’s a world of beer out there beyond the American IPA.
Of course, the irony is that my favourite beer of the session was Marble’s Earl Grey IPA – a collaboration with Emelisse and dripping with American hops.