Tuesday 17 September 2013

Brewers' Hall Beer Tasting Competition

On Wednesday I was at Brewers' Hall, home of The Worshipful Company of Brewers

Having been flattened by the Luftwaffe the present incarnation of Brewers' Hall only dates from 1940 but the place is still steeped in a history going back many hundreds of years.

The coat of arms dates from when Henry VIII told them to drop Thomas A Becket as their patron saint because he wasn't keen on clerics standing up to kings. The brewers complied but managed to keep the connection by replacing him with a dark skinned woman which represented his reputed Moorish step-mother. History, beer, schism and subversion: four of my interests all in one logo!

Moving on to history a tad more recent I was delighted to see hanging up a portrait of Sydney O Nevile, who I was only recently burbling on about.

The reason I was there was for some competitive beer drinking. Back in my youth this would have meant simply seeing how fast you could drink in a boat race, but this time things were a bit more civilised. Nick Miller and Alastair Hook, of Meantime Brewery, had been horrified to hear that regular wine tasting competitions were held at Brewers' Hall but there'd never been a beer tasting competition so they decided to organise one.

The format was simple, but the competition wasn't. We had to taste eight different beers and answer four questions on each: country of origin, origin of the hops, beer style and then the bonus question of name the beer.

Last time I spent an evening in a beer competition I trailed on points and relied on a last last round knock out to win.This time things were rather different. Blind tasting isn't easy but we did consistently well throughout the rounds and were ahead on points by the half way mark.The next three rounds were tough but we kept the score up, and I thought we were cruising to victory until the last round proved a disaster. Sadly we mistook a dopplebock for a barley wine and scored zero. Had we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory? Fortunately not, as it seemed everyone else thought it was a barley wine too, so victory was ours!

The winning team

The IBD must have been clearing out the cupboards as we even got some prizes: a shield to go on the wall and a fetching pair of cufflinks that I'm sure someone will be delighted to get for christmas.


  1. Really pleased to see they have Syney Nevile on the wall. Very appropriate. He's one of my heroes.

  2. It's great they've got his portrait there, thanks for the tip off about the book. Shame the Nazis did for Horace Brown's portrait though.