Every August, The World Beer Awards are held in London.
How it happens: breweries send in beers; portly men with little beards and questionable personal hygiene gather in a room in London; they taste the beers and pick the winners; they go home alone.
But what happens to all the leftovers?
The answer, bizarrely, is that much of it ends up with charities. They are given hundreds of bottles of beer and given permission to do with them what they wish.
Then, vultures like me move in.
I’ve just taken in a delivery of around 50 beers from the awards after a donation to the brilliant Break charity, and am in the process of figuring out just what I’ve got.
There are beers from Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Hong Kong, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Spain, Italy, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. They are in bottles and cans, with caps, swing tops and corks.
Fans of Belgian beers would be on familiar ground, with Kasteel, Delirium, Affligem, Averbode and Straffe Hendrik present.
But being the World Beer Awards, these breweries aren’t farting around with their basic styles. They’re bringing their bobby dazzlers.
If you get a Rodenbach, it’s a Grand Cru. If it’s Troubadour Magma, it’s the special edition, triple-spiked brett. Straffe Hendrik – quadrupel it. Boon. Geuze. Mariage. Parfait. Even Mahou tried to pull the wool over by chucking in their god-awful but different-for-them Barrica.
I’ve not tasted them all yet, but one obvious observation is that not one of the craft beer zeitgeist bothered entering.
You’d be surprised to see the entry list swimming with super-fresh hoppy IPAs that wouldn’t be at their best for the judges, but it’s telling that not a saison nor a stout or sour from a Wild Beer, Little Earth Project or Buxton is involved.
My guess? The established breweries still crave the kudos of a WBA sticker on their bottle. The craft breweries couldn’t give a toss.
- I’ll drink a few of these over the coming weeks, then let you know how it went.