Granville Island Brewing let us know last week that they will be taking part in an international beer exchange with London’s Fullers. From January 25th to February 5th, Fullers London Pride will be available at the GIB Taproom and Lions Winter Ale will be available at the Iron Duke in London. GIB will also be hosting a Taproom for the UK event, which is open to all comers, this Wednesday, January 27th at 6PM at the Taproom. While I think this exchange is a cool idea, I have a feeling it has more to do with marketing than beer. Consider the timing of the event and the participation by breweries in the next two Olympic cities. Notwithstanding that neither London Pride nor Lions Winter Ale can truly be considered world class beers, so we can’t say either brewery is really putting their best foot forward. And while Fullers is a major international brewer and their beers are readily available in BC, I wonder if anyone in the UK has ever heard of GIB? That isn’t a slight to GIB who are widely considered BC’s favorite brewery among non beer enthusiasts.
My biggest concern with the event is the quality of the beer itself. While both Fullers London Pride and GIB Lions Winter Ale are both good beers at the best of times, the international travel these beers will undertake won’t favor the quality of the beer. Consider that beer is best served fresh and, save for high alcohol beers stored under the right conditions, will only deteriorate over time. Now consider that these beers were brewed 4708 miles away from each other. The beers must each travel across a continent by truck or train), across an ocean by boat, and then be stored at a liquor distribution center until the appropriate paper work has been filed. I’d guess the age of these beers to be at least three months since packaging, which means that they are probably starting to go stale. I’ve experienced stale Fullers London Pride often, but, considering that I bought this beer at a BC Liquor Store, it could have been up to a year old.
I hope beyond hope that both beers were shipped expediently after they were brewed, stored in optimal conditions, and are both tasting great. What would be even better is if the beers were casked and conditioned (under optimal conditions) on the way, but that might be too hopeful. Best of luck to both GIB and Fullers in this endeavor. However, I’d suggest keeping future international exchanges local in the interest of freshness. Washington and Oregon aren’t too far away.