I don’t have any photos of my experiences from the Friday session of the 2014 Birmingham Beer Bash. Actually, I do have a blurry photo of the pizza I snaffled half way through the evening – not the actual pizza though, just a picture of the box it came in. For some reason, I don’t even I didn’t even bring home the bloody glass the beers were served in and I sure do love glasswear. All of the above is pointing towards the fact that I was having just too much of a barmy old time to contemplate documenting my experiences in photographic or memorabilia form. Which, for me, is a surefire way of measuring just how much fun I had/how inebriated I was.
The first thing I noticed about the second edition of BBB this year was that they had actual PORTALOOS and I’m not even referring to those half-exposed urinals you get at festivals which dribble down onto your feet when they overflow, I’m talking straight up portable bogs that builders use. This meant one thing: Birmingham Beer Bash had gone BIG. This was logic that was reiterated everywhere you looked, from the the sheer array of beers they had on across a handful of different bars, to the number of punters that were dotted around the Bond Co in Digbeth. And they weren’t just your usual ale festival drinkers. These were young, hip, cool cats with designer beards, sailor tattoos and attractive beer-drinking women on their arms.
I started with the first beer I clapped eyes on and the beer I had been waiting to try for quite a while, the Siren Brewery Limoncello IPA and it was the exact lemon hop explosion that my taste buds needed. Fresh and (obviously) citrusy on the nose, it was more a creamy lemon taste than I had envisaged, more aligned to what I would imagine drinking fizzy alcoholic lemon curd to be like.
I then hop footed around the nirvana of different UK beverages, sampling the Harbour India Brown Ale and the Weird Beard/Elusive Lord Nelson. The former, a piney, biscuity, citrus-laden affair with a head the size of that fellow off Art Attack and the latter a crisp, yeasty saison. By this point I was hungry, so with a Thornbridge Medici in hand I headed back outside towards the Peel and Stone portable pizza oven.
As much as I would have loved to have gone to one of the food pairing dining sessions held on Friday and Saturday (delicious menus here) combining an outrageous 5 course meal by Nathan Eades with perfectly matched beers from Wild Beer Co and Compass Brewing, lack of funds meant I happily filled my belly with the street food selection. This year, as well aforementioned Peel and Stone bakery it included The Original Patty Men, Bournville Waffle Co and Squisito Deli, all of which looked and smelt outrageous.
While the pizza was cooking I headed to the international bar and chose a glass of Ruhstaller Capt. Black IPA. I had picked up the cans from Stirchley Wines not long ago so I knew I was in for another outrageously hoppy, yet surprisingly treacly treat. The pizza didn’t last long and I was soon sampling a further selection which included the Beerd Razor IPA, the inherently sour Wild Beer Somerset Wild, and the Wild Beer Shnoodlepip – a beer which had so much going on in one glass it tasted simultaneously like a barrel-aged barley wine, a saison and a wit in the same mouthful.
With last orders looming, and the jingling of leftover tokens in my pocket playing on my mind, I headed for the bottle fridges to see what rare delicacies they had. How was I to know I would fall head over heels right there and then.
She was called Marble Emilisse and although I can’t really tell you what she looked like because it was so dark by this point, I can confirm that she smelt and tasted like little hoppy droplets of heaven had rained down from the sky and landed into a cup of early grey tea. It may have been the copious amounts of fine quality craft beer that had already been consumed that evening, but shacked up under a tree next to the waffle caravan, I definitely recall declaring my undying love for the Marble /Emelisse Earl Grey IPA – numerous times. The words ‘best beer I’ve ever tasted’ probably got thrown around a lot, as did ‘soul mates’.
Anyway, after that love-in, I used the rest of my tokens to buy myself a Brewers and Union Sunday Easy IPA to drink on the way back into town. However, as I supped and walked I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was cheating on my one true love. I’m sure if Marble and I were to have a tête-à-tête at some point in the future she may not taste so sweet second time around. Until then, we’ll always have the wonderful memories of that fateful Friday night at Birmingham Beer Bash 2014.