The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is a yearly 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. GBBF’s sister festival, theNational Winter Ales Festival concentrates on beer styles such as porter and stout, and is held in January of each year.
GBBF is styled as the “biggest pub in the world” and offers around 450 beers from British breweries, as well as around 200 foreign beers from countries including Belgium, Germany and the USA. Traditional British cider and perry is also available. The festival is completely 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.
On the first day of the GBBF the results of Champion Beer of Britain are announced. 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 2014 festival will be held on the 12–16 August.