Ok, so let's be clear from the outset. I'm tiny in the grand scheme of brewing - so I completely accept that my thoughts really don't have any much weight in the following. But maybe someone agrees?
I attended the GBBF, this time as a brewery (last year as someone working in the trade). As a trade day goes, there wasn't really much that was 'tradey' about it - except we all get to go in first.
Now I've done trade days in former lives - cooperate events where everyone's trying to sell you stuff, whisky trade days where everyone's trying to sell you their products but you don't pay for them. The GBBF trade day doesn't really seem to be anything of either. Yeah, you get in for free, but you're still paying for all the beers. There was only one company of trade that I ended up speaking to. So why was it worth me going?
TBH, I don't really know! I was hoping for a bit of inspiration from other breweries - try some new hops, see overall branding; see what everyone else is doing, that sort of thing. Even in that I was generally disappointed. My beers are a bit 'out-there' but traditional in many senses - everything I do is bottle conditioned and cask. But there were so many IPAs that weren't even pale, nor hoppy. So many flavoured stouts which were nice stouts, but hardly diverse. It all felt very very 'safe'.
Now, as a day out the GBBF was great. I returned (from Cardiff) with a group of people on the Saturday and had a fantastic time. There were only 20% of the beers available by the end of the day than Tuesday, but the selection was still great. It was just the trade day that was fairly fruitless.
Anyway, if anyone cares, here's how I'd improve it!
It'd be great if there were areas where us small brewers can meet up. Hell, why not every area of the trade have a meetup area - landlords, brewery owners etc?
Why not actually have the odd talk or two about where real ale 'is' from CAMRA? Doesn't have to be much but would be interesting to get an idea of what CAMRA does apart from give Wetherspoons a lot of advertising.
I know it goes against the volunteering nature of the festival, but I wouldn't mind actually meeting the guys who make some of the beers. Why not get some brewers behind the stalls for a bit and chat about their product?
I'm going to miss you so much.
The time we've had together seems so brief, I tried to give you the greatest life a dog could ever have - you deserved it so much. I can't believe anyone ever gave you up and abandoned you. They missed out on having such a great companion, such a perfect companion.
Life won't be the same without you anymore. It feels like I've lost my shadow. Who's going to watch me brew and keep me company throughout the day? Your spot at the end of the bed each night is going to feel so empty.
I still remember when you first came into our lives. You found rehoming a difficult process and struggled to relax, but as soon as you got into our car, you immediately calmed and sighed happily, like you were thinking 'I'm going home now!' And it was your forever home, but all too briefly.
In so many ways it feels that although I may have 'rescued' you, it was you who saved me in the end. No matter how bad things got, you were always there waiting for me; greeting me with love and happiness, giving me a reason to move forward. I feel so honoured that our souls got to share a life together.
Ollie, my baby boy, this is all going to be for you now. God knows how hard it's going to be at first to see your face on each bottle, to even say your name in this business, but it will pass, and then I'm going to see you every single day and know that you're still here watching me, looking out for me and you're still there by my side.
Sleep well, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for choosing me.