London's Calling (Or Wot I Did At The GBBF)

Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll. But that’s enough of what Tandleman gets up to in his lunch hour. What about the GBBF? A massive feat of logistics, it’s impossible to do it justice even over a couple of days. As the Wallsend Wonder says about working at ICI-if you can remember it, you weren’t there. However, I’ll try and summarise it from what I can recall.

The first thing to do was acclimatise. Like many a seasoned pro, I’d already decided that I’d mainly be concentrating on the foreign beer as the choice was impressive. However, I warmed up with a couple of cask offerings. Mauldon’s Silver Adder being the first. Well, technically, I’d warmed up with a couple in J.J.Moons, whilst waiting for the doors to open, but we won’t count them. From Bar Noveau I quite enjoyed Flowerpots Bitter, an easy drinking golden session Bitter. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the 11% Tsarina Extra and, sure enough, it was horrible. Barrel ageing had given it obvious notes of oak and vanilla-two flavours not good in beer normally and, despite the strength, too heavy on the palate here as well.

Much more enjoyable were some of the American beers. Victory Hopdevil at 6.7% was full bodied and spicy, and very drinkable. Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale Ale was even better, with the Columbus and Cascade hops combining for an incredible lingering finish. Dogfish Head weren’t to my palate and I thought Rogue were a bit, er, roogu. Several of the German offerings weren’t too shabby, even the odd Braustelle Pink Panther proving surprisingly tasty.

The Irish contingent also proved interesting, with an all too rare chance to sample cask conditioned stouts and pale ales. I note that the Beer Nut was disappointed with Galway Hooker. I bow to his superior knowledge. I have to hold my hands up-I was one of the English tasters who thought it was actually rather fine. Foreign find of the event, though, was definitely the Italian beers. I knew nothing about these and found them a real mixed bag. Saison Dau was a real peppery thirst quencher, whilst their attempts at Lambic style brewing didn’t hit the mark for me. But man does not live etc, and once again there was a good selection of food outlets to choose from. Indeed my only solid sustenance the whole trip was what the Crusty Pie Company could offer me. Taking a wrong turning whilst staggering back to the hotel on Thursday evening, I did discover a decent pizzeria on Pentonville Road, but alas, too late.

Obviously there is more to London than the GBBF and hanging round all that beer can make one thirsty. So I found time to call in a few hostelries. Apart from my usual pilgrimage to the Royal Oak, I couldn’t resist paying a visit to Stonch’s now famous boozer. JDW’s proved useful for an early and late drink, and I enjoyed the craic in both the Speaker, and the Swan which was just off Gracechurch Street.

On Wednesday no one could find the elusive Tandleman, with some people denying his very existence. Ok I was asking for him in Czech, but still. Anyway, Rochdale’s Robbie Coltrane* duly appeared on Thursday and was soon knee deep in totty. No wonder he likes working the German bar. All the women in the place seemed to be making a beeline for it at some point or another. Including, at one point, some genuine frauleins. The old fox isn’t as daft as he looks. Well, let’s be honest, he couldn’t be, could he? He does have his uses though, and he helped me pick out the wheat from the weiss.

No rest for the wicked as my journey home was interrupted by a session in the Trackside. Acorn Liberty IPA and Bradfield Blonde slowly gave way to Rich’s Legbender Cider which was hazy golden and basically did what it said on the tin. Where’s the Crusty Pie Company when you need them?
*I see there has been some specualtion as to Tandleman's resemblance to Robbie Coltrane. Long ago, in days of Yore, he had more of a Jimmy Clitheroe look. Not any more . He still has the shorts, mind.


Tandleman said…
The German bar is indeed a totty magnet. It is a bonus to look at them rather than the raddled faces that can be found else where at GBBF. Of course we do get raddled faces at our bar too. I think I mentioned a few the other day and of course, you were there too! (-;
steve said…
Is Tandle Man the same as randy man?
Tyson said…
Dunno. Who's randy man?
Anonymous said…
Probably the guy eyeing up my gf.
ian said…
I thought the Dogfish was pretty good with a nice balance of flavours.The Czech beers were also excellent but I was a little disappointed with the German selection.
steve said…
The guy who was eyeing up my girlfriend on Friday night.
Tyson said…

If she was half decent, yes, it was probably him. Take it as a compliment.

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