Last week I went to the SIBA conference and beer festival for the first time. Though as it was for work there was much more conference than beer festival for me.
I didn't manage to meet all the people I'd hoped to, but on the other hand I did meet some people I hadn't expected to. I heard some very interesting news from the owner of the unrighteous brewery I used to work for, and there's even the possibility my longest running brewery boycott could come to an end in the not too distant future.
Not working for a SIBA brewery I didn't go to the business session of the conference, where they sensibly decided not to try and define craft beer (and anyway I've already done that for them), but I managed to get to a couple of the lectures. The timetable was very crowded though so they were all short and with little time for questions.
Peter Darby's talk was about the every growing number of British hop varieties, and we can now add Olicana, a daughter of Jester to the list. The new varieties are all currently grown on a very small scale but I'm sure with the interest shown in them production will continue to grow.
I spent more time having curries than at the beer festival, but I did manage to get a few beers in. The most interesting for me as Bateman's Dark Mild, as I thought it had been discontinued. I had a half whilst I still could and very nice it was too.
From the curries I can't recall any fascinating beer facts, apart from hearing that there are only three polyploid varieties in the national hop collection because polyploid hops grow bigger cones and leaves, and the large leaf size provides too much shade for the British climate. But I was very impressed by beer academic Charlie Bamforth's encycolpaedic football knowledge. That he could name Tim Buzaglo as the hat trick scorer in Woking's 1991 win over West Bromwich Albion was astonishing.
I enjoyed going to BeerX but it was tiring, which didn't really set me up well for what I had planned after, but more on that later.