7 Aug 2011

Revelation Cat 3 Year Old Lambic (Laphroaig) and Great British Beer Festival 2011

The beer

Detailed information about Revelation Cat Craft Brewing is thin on the ground.

I know Alex Liberati, owner of Brasserie 4:20, is behind it. I’ve seen the scratchy cat t-shirts adorning the torsos of connoisseurs.

From what it says on (what I assume is) their website, they don’t have a brewery of their own.

Beyond that, I know nothing.

What I do know is that this Revelation Cat 3 Year Old Lambic (Laphroaig) I’m drinking is absolutely stunning.

Based on its name, I’m assuming this beer is a lambic that’s been aged for three years in Laphroaig casks.

Dusky orange with a slight haze, it smells like sawdust drenched in whisky.

It’s a rollercoaster of a beer, taking you through a range of sour, complex lambic flavours before supplying a peaty, single malt whisky-like finish.

Idiosyncratic doesn’t even come close.

The event

The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is CAMRA’s flagship event and the biggest beer festival in Britain.

Its huge selection of beers draws in a surprisingly diverse crowd, from hardcore beer aficionados to people who just think a massive beer festival sounds like a great excuse to get pissed.

Regardless of your opinion of CAMRA, it’s a must-attend event if you’re interested in beer and live in the UK.

There are elements of it that bum me out, like the archaic layout and the crowds of people round the Marston’s bar (why not just go to a pub? You’d be more comfortable), but those things aside it’s a glorious opportunity to get together and celebrate beer.

The match

I’ve spent a good few hours at GBBF.

I’m drinking thirds, so I’ve tasted a wide selection of beers.

I’m primed and ready for the beer that will stand out from the crowd and be my pick for best beer of the festival.

As time goes on nothing seems to surpass the first beer I drink, an unfiltered Matuška Fast Ball 9°, which is a great, great beer, but doesn’t entirely satisfy my lust for something mind-blowing.

That is until Revelation Cat 3 Year Old Lambic (Laphroaig) comes along.

It cuts through the mediocre, distinctly-average beers I’ve been drinking like a white-hot machete through butter.

I take a moment to consider whether this beer is only standing out because of its startling complexity, its bewildering combination of flavours and its sheer insanity when set against the other beers on offer.

Subtlety in beer is something I greatly appreciate – it rewards focus with new, previously unnoticed levels of flavour – but it’s something that is difficult to detect after your palate has been assaulted over the course of a few hours at an event like GBBF.

Is it simply contrast that’s driving my appreciation?

I take another gulp.

Nope, this beer is definitely awesome – in the true sense of that word.

Even now, days later, I thirst intensely for it. The scarcity of information about it just fuels that insatiable desire.

I'm sure I’ve committed some horrific faux pas in the eyes of some people by picking an unusual Italian beer for this match.

However, I'm not sure whether that says more about me or about GBBF.


  1. As a matter of interest, why is the layout archaic, and what would you suggest to improve it?

  2. I just don't understand why the UK beers can't be arranged alphabetically at the bars or in a similarly straightforward system.

    I always find myself constantly cross-referencing maps, lists, bar names and combinations of letters and numbers, which becomes increasingly difficult as the day wears on...

  3. Hi Chris

    As long as I know, the lambics used by Revelation Cat for their oak-aging experiments mostly come from Girardin and Boon. Don't know if this helps a bit. Cheers!

  4. Leo – thanks, that does help! The more information I get about this beer the better!

  5. Totally agree about the layout. Alphabetical by CAMRA region is worse than the old super-region bars. Alpha by brewer , or maybe even group by style?

    My favourtes were the Raw Grey Ghost IPA and the Italian black ipa I can't remember the name of.... The de molen hot and spicy won the "no, seriously WTF? Stunt beer" award

  6. Revelation Cat seem to brew all around Europe and in my experience their beers are a real mixed bag. The "Woodwork Series" of IPAs is great but last year's outings of "dry hopped lambic" (at both GBBF and Borefts) were generally hald to be foul - "like the fermented contents of a spittoon" was one of the less complimentary tasting notes I read. Consequently I gave this year's lambic experiment a miss - sounds like they may have got it right (or at least better) this time.

    John Clarke

  7. The thing I don't understand about the layout is the relevance of grouping by region. Who thinks to themselves "I know what I want ... something from Yorkshire". You pick by style or brewery.