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BBPA exhibits British beer at the World Expo

On 19/10/15

A selection of the finest British beers made the trip to Milan at the end of September to be showcased at the British Beer Festival in the UK pavilion at the World Expo. The World Expo is a six-month exhibition where over 140 countries and corporations showcase the best they have to offer to the World. This year’s Expo focused on food and how to feed the world and expects to see over 20 million visitors.

The British Beer Festival consisted of two elements - a sampling session for the thousands of visitors to the UK stand, and tutored tastings by beer sommelier Steve Livens for a selection of beer buyers and publicans. Brewers Charles Wells and Meantime also attended the event to talk to buyers and consumers about their beers which were on show.

The consumer sampling attracted a wide range of visitors, from the estimated 20,000 visitors to the UK presence that day. The audience was predominantly Italian but also included a broad range of other nationalities keen to try British beers. There seemed to be a strong preference from the natives for stronger, darker beers, as well as the IPAs and bitters that were also on show. In total around 20 beers from six breweries were handed out (see below for the full list). I am pleased to report that there was no indication of immoderate consumption.

Steve Livens then held the first of two formal tastings on the day. The first being a 90-minute tutored tasting for 15 buyers invited by UKTI. These were predominantly Italian, and many already had a strong knowledge of British beer. However the 10-beer sampling ensured that a diverse range of styles and flavours were incorporated and everyone went away having learnt more about British beer. Links were developed that will hopefully see more British beer exported to Italy and beyond.

Not content with educating potential buyers the BBPA’s beer sommelier then entertained twenty international bloggers who were being escorted around the Expo and treated to the very best food events on offer. Not surprisingly, the quality and diversity of the British beers on offer in the UK pavilion was not to be missed. This gave added attention to the showcase on various digital platforms, and may well have added to the surge in visitors received at around 6pm. UKTI summarised this on Storify and a keen blogger posted a virtual tour on Twitter.

After an epic stint helping to run the British beer bar, purely in the name of research the BBPA team visited a number of other national pavilions to inspect their beer offering. Pilsner Urquell had a strong representation on the Czech stand, with the Belgians having a permanent beer festival as the showpiece of their pavilion. The U.S. was reliant on a domestic brand as its only draught product though there was an imported gluten-free bottled beer available.

Overall it was a successful event with great enthusiasm for British beer from consumers and retailers alike.


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