Not that one wishes to cast aspersions on the validity of the Houses of Parliament as an enjoyable place to go, but when the other options include a building with 500 different beers inside, the contest is over as far as I'm concerned. What's this wonderful, magical place you ask ? Once again, it was time for the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival !
Honestly, why would anyone want to drink nasty bloody horrible chemical-ridden lagers like Stella, Carlsberg, Fosters and Carling when there's so many yummy real ales brimming with flavour to sink your tastebuds into. Mind you, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and collecting evidence of this became one of our goals for the night. Craig, The Puzzler and I (OK, Craig mainly – I was too busy drinking beer) spent the time in between selecting new brews by trying to spot & photograph the best beer gut in the place, and dear lord were there some contenders.
My favourite beer turned out to be the same one as last year – the Cairngorm Tradewinds. Caledonian XPA was a nice drop too, and it turned out the reason I'd never heard of it before was because it had only been released the Thursday before.
The struggle was on once again to not buy beers based on wacky names, and it was only due to the fact that they'd sold out that I didn't get around to trying any “Dark Side of the Moose”, which was probably awful anyway. Lord Science, Basement Paul, Niall and Mark were off on their usual seemingly random acquisition of beers trip, the reports of which punctuated our enlightened voyages.
I treated the lads to a Coopers' Dark Ale at one point (there was no Pale on the premises this year, due to some sort of administrative cockup), and The Puzzler took home a Coopers' Stout as well – I'm almost envious, and hope to be in the vicinity when he decides to open it.
Another level of awfulness was the food available – last year we learned a lesson from not getting around to eating, and were determined not to fall for that this year. Niall bought the biggest pork pie I'd ever seen, and was a little distressed to learn that the meat to “jelly” ratio is about the same no matter what size the pie, and consequently he had about a cup and a half of fat there to chow down on. Niiiiiiiiiiiiice.
Not that the pork scratchings we bought were any healthier… (Glossary: Pork Scratchings – pork crackling with a bit of extra salt, bagged up & sold to drunk people who think it's the most healthy & nutritious thing available).
Once again, the investigative component of the trip turned out pointless, because we wound up too pissed to remember which beers we'd had, and which of them were good or bad, and in any case it didn't really matter because most of the beers you can't get anywhere other than a beer festival anyway (unless you happen to be travelling to wherever they're made at that particular point).
I guess that means we'll have to go again next year.