YESSS! It’s the first day of the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival, one of the world’s greatest beer festivals. We’ve sniffed (and sniggered), we’ve sipped, slugged, we’ve swirled and swilled and, as of now, these are the BEST BEERS OF THE FESTIVAL… in our somewhat limited opinion the first six hours anyway.

The best beers of the Great British Beer Festival

1. Deschutes / Freshly Squeezed IPA / 6.4%

It would be fair to say that the American cask beer stand is the most popular on trade day. It was insane and we elbowed our way to the front, a few times, spotted Deschutes and came back with the Pinedrops IPA and the Freshly Squeezed IPA. Had we not have tried the Freshly Squeezed,  Pinedrops would have won, but the Freshly Squeezed, as co-founder Chris admitted, won. Fruity, balanced, strong, sumptuous. We had more than one.

2. Elgood’s / Black Dog / 3.6%

It’s a mild! The long lost beer, the beer that got sucked up and swallowed by craft beer… Actually much earlier than that. Anyway, the resurrection of the mild has been over exaggerated in the last year.. there still aren’t many about in the modern beer world. But when Elwood’s make one, we sit up and take notice – this is a brewery that, after all, have made a superb Lambic in Cambridgeshire… There’s a hint liquorish and, if the bloke stood next us is to be believed (and why not), it’s the best mild ever – or at least the best mild he’s had. And looking at him, that seemed good enough.

3. Slater’s / Rye IPA / 3.8%

It was the first beer of the day. Now on paper a Rye IPA should be hefty in volume and taste. But, as recommended by the server, we gave it a go. And thankfully so, this was a light, golden ale. Clean, crisp and savoury with tropical flavours. The rye gave it an umami bitterness that made it highly drinkable. If there weren’t several hundred other beers on offer we’d probably go back to it (except we did with the Freshly Squeezed). 

4. Noble Ale Works / Galaxy Showers / 8.8%

Now, blimey, we love beer. Any beer. There’s a mild up there on number two, but when you get something like this that stops you in your tracks, you have to take it. This Imperial IPA (read: very strong) is one of those beers. Endlessly interesting, and very engaging. We had it at the American stand and fell in love with it.

5. Raven / White IPA / 6.3%

Firstly it is Czech, secondly it’s from Plze? – does it need a thirdly? Well this is a beer that is effortlessly simple, yet one that brilliant in its range of flavours. It manages to have tropical notes while clamping down on those piney tastes we expect from an IPA. The ‘white bit’? Well its hazy body is pure and simple.

And one to avoid…

Stone Liberty Station / Gose Gose Gadget / 4.1%

Now there is something appealing about the name Gose Gose Gadget for sure.. who wouldn’t want that. A German Gose with a subtly salty taste, uniquely refreshing on a hot GBBF. Now, admittedly there was a warning, ‘Contains lots, and lots, of chillies’ scribbled below it by a server who has clearly had it given back one time too many. Undeterred in our quest for hunting out the world’s best beers we dived in. MISTAKE. Holy crap. Now Maggie is a certified beer sommelier and, frankly, we need her taste buds to hunt out the world’s best beers. An hour after trying it there are signs of them coming back to life…We love Stone. They have a higher threshold than we do.