Great British Beer Festival
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The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is an annual beer festival organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). It presents a selection of cask ales and other alcoholic drinks from the UK and beyond. The festival is also home to the Champion Beer of Britain awards and is held in August of each year. 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the GBBF. GBBF's sister festival, the Great British Beer Festival Winter concentrates on beer styles such as porter and stout and is usually held in February each year.
GBBF is styled as the "biggest pub in the world" and offers around 900 different beverages, at least 450 of which are beers from British breweries, as well as around 200 foreign beers from countries including Belgium, Germany and the USA, as well traditional British cider and perry. The festival is staffed by unpaid volunteers, around 1000 of whom work at the festival.
The festival is usually held during the first full week in August and runs from Tuesday to Saturday. The Tuesday afternoon session is only open to the trade and press, with the Champion Beer of Britain award winners being announced mid-afternoon. The general public are admitted to afternoon and evening sessions from Tuesday evening until Saturday evening. CAMRA figures show that in 2006, over 66,000 people visited the festival over the course of the week and consumed some 350,000 pints of beer — one pint sold in less than half of every open second. Part of the huge improvement on 2005 (ticket sales were up 40%) was attributed by the festival organiser, Marc Holmes, to the move from Olympia to Earls Court, a much larger and easily accessible venue. Since 2012 the event has returned to Olympia and remains massively popular.
As well as the beer, the festival offers entertainment such as live music and traditional pub games, as well as a variety of food stands.
The 2017 festival took place 8-12 August.
CAMRA held their first large beer festival in Covent Garden, London in September 1975. It was a 4-day event that attracted 40,000 people who drank 150,000 pints of real ale. Strictly speaking it was not a GBBF, but it has been considered the forerunner of the festival. The first "proper" GBBF was held in 1977 at Alexandra Palace. The venue has moved between cities since it was first established but has settled in London since 1991. The only year in which a festival was not held was 1984, due to a fire at the venue.
- 1977: Alexandra Palace, London
- 1978: Alexandra Palace, London
- 1979: Alexandra Palace, London
- 1980: Alexandra Palace (in tents after the Palace burnt down)
- 1981: Queens Hall, Leeds. Great British Beer Festival held outside London for the first time.
- 1982: Queens Hall, Leeds
- 1983: Bingley Hall, Birmingham
- 1984: No event
- 1985: Metropole, Brighton
- 1986: Metropole, Brighton
- 1987: Metropole, Brighton
- 1988: Queens Hall, Leeds
- 1989: Queens Hall, Leeds
- 1990: Metropole, Brighton
- 1991: Docklands Arena, London
- 1992: Olympia, London
- 1993: Olympia, London
- 1994: Olympia, London
- 1995: Olympia, London
- 1996: Olympia, London
- 1997: Olympia, London
- 1998: Olympia, London
- 1999: Olympia, London
- 2000: Olympia, London
- 2001: Olympia, London
- 2002: Olympia, London
- 2003: Olympia, London
- 2004: Olympia, London
- 2005: Olympia, London
- 2006: Earls Court, London
- 2007: Earls Court, London Celebrated as the 30th Anniversary of the festival
- 2008: Earls Court, London
- 2009: Earls Court, London
- 2010: Earls Court, London 66,900 people attended
- 2011: Earls Court, London 62,446 people attended
- 2012: Olympia, London
- 2013: Olympia, London
- 2014: Olympia, London
- 2015: Olympia, London
- 2016: Olympia, London
- 2017: Olympia, London
- Champion Beer of Britain
- National Winter Ales Festival
- Champion Winter Beer of Britain
- Campaign for Real Ale
- Oliver, Garrett (2011). Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press. p. 406. ISBN 9780195367133.
- Atherton, Sophie (2016-08-11). "The Great British Beer Festival: what to drink (and how to survive)". The Daily Telegraph.
- Marc Holmes, festival organiser, speech in the Volunteer's Arms, Great British Beer Festival, 5 August 2006
- "CAMRA 2012: A Strategic Campaigning Framework Milestones in CAMRA's History" (pdf). Retrieved 1 November 2011.[permanent dead link]
- Key Events in CAMRA's History, CAMRA, 2014, retrieved 21 March 2016
- Great British Beer Festival 2012, CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival, Facebook page, 3 February 2011, retrieved 26 April 2011
- "Olympia Events". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
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