Due to my impending trip to Edinburgh (of which more later), I managed to persuade a hardy bunch of FT regulars to accompany me to the GBBF for the opening public session last night, and it was a JOY in comparison to recent Friday visits. Reader, we almost didn’t need to have taken our dad stools with us!

You could get around easily, there was very little rowdiness, and very few bloody part-time tourist lager-drinkers in stupid hats people unused to the joys of ale. There was also a much closer gender balance than I’ve ever seen (we’re not talking 50/50 here, inevitably, but I’d guess 70/30 male to female? maybe 65/35?) and, yes, definitely more couples, rather than just groups of people (and a fair number of the groups were left over from the early afternoon trade session I think).

Also good to see that the Champion Beer of Britain is a Mild, although at 4.4%, it’s pushing it a bit (but then i like my milds subtle to the point of tastelessness). I don’t think any of the group got to try it, but I did have some pretty good (if randomly selected) bouze, nothing made my palate explode* with excitement/difference/wtf (i’ve gone off stunt beers a bit) although the Spire Dark Side Of The Moon (Peak District** bar) and the Holden Black Country Mild (W Midlands bar, obv) were both good chocolately, dense milds, just the sort of thing I like. I rounded the evening off with a personal favourite, a WHOLE PINT of lovely lovely St Austell Proper Job, which i know is a stinking kernow beer, but they do make a decent drop of ale down there, eh? Really hoppy and very dry aftertaste, I’d only had it in bottles from uttobeer/the rake, but it’s just as good on draft.

And we had a pretty good dirty crossword too, well done us!

*OK, nothing i drank made my palate explode, the pickled chili garlic from the Olives and Things stall did a pretty good job though (also, marvellous conversation starter with other people sat at our table).

**although why there are separate Peak District and North West bars, i’m not quite sure, as most of the PD beers were manc/cheshire/merseyside…)