It's been a tough old time for breweries and pubs up and down the country, with up to 30 pubs closing each week at one stage. Of course, some of them were the sort of hovels where you needed to have a sawn-off at your side just to order a bag of pork-scratchings and a pint of 'Bottom Trembler', but many are vibrant community pubs being squeezed by high-rates and corporate restrictions. This is why the Great British Beer Festival is so important to brewers across the world - without your patronage, they go under and we end up drinking fizzy fighting-juice and 'partner-puncher', and nobody wants that (do they?).
Earl's Court played host to well-over 60,000 visitors at the 2009 festival, good news indeed. Let's make it 70,000 in 2010 and keep the interest in British beers particularly, after all it's our heritage and we're good at it. This year's bash runs from Tuesday 3rd Aug (starts at 5pm) to Saturday 7th Aug with tickets now available for both CAMRA and non-CAMRA members. If you want to become a member of the Campaign For Real Ale, check out their website (www.camra.org.uk).
Meanwhile, quench your thirst with day tickets available for £8 each (or £6 for members) - this is a great way to save money since the admission 'on-the-day' is another few quid on top. As well as standard admission, you can indulge in tasting sessions throughout the week, including beer-experts Roger Protz, Jeff Evans, Christine Cryne and Melissa Cole discussing and offering samples of top-quality beers from Britain and the USA - each one costs £15 / £12. Click on the dates below for full ticket details and options.
Food, entertainment and non-alcoholic beverages are available if it all gets a bit blurry, but to be fair it rarely does if you start with half-pints and take it easy! And don't forget - Thursday is 'Hat Day', a chance to turn up looking like a crazed loon with a favourite hat of many years, or one you have just made. After a few bevvies, it won't matter what you look like will it? Cheers!