July 9th 2014 not only marked the 20th occasion that we staged the annual All-party Parliamentary Beer Group Dinner for 250 guests in our Great Hall, it also marked the retirement of Robert Humphreys as our longest-standing client. Our Events Manager Perry Simmonds, who has been at the venue for 16 years has worked on the event with Robert all this time. The dinner, which is attended by brewers from around the UK along with many MPs and Peers is different in that, given what it represents, guests are given beer rather than wine with dinner.
|This photo below shows just how many glasses are required to do justice to the selection process!|
The beers, which are paired with the food are carefully chosen from a selection submitted by a variety of brewers by a tasting group of experts. Over the last few years, this tasting has happened at the venue and Robert kindly invited us to be involved which while being not only of great interest to us, given our daily involvement with food and drink, has also been great fun. Upwards of 30 beers are tasted to match with the starter, main and dessert. The choice often becomes difficult with very close contenders and so some years, two beers have been served with particular courses.
The pairing process inspired us to suggest having beers rather than wines for a previous retiring President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, our parent body. Paul Jowett, a beer-loving Yorkshireman loved the idea so long as it could include his favourite beer, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord somewhere. Robert was very helpful offering us advice and suggestions and the whole idea was a hit.
Prior to the dinner, guests are offered a range of around 20 bottled beers and ales including cask ales on arrival with a selection of canapés.
The event usually runs without a hitch barring a few last minute table changes which Robert has to deal with but we have had a few occasions in the past where there were parliamentary votes or ‘Divisions’ during dinner and swathes of MPs had to leave the dinner to head across to the House of Commons to vote. In such circumstances there’s really not much you can do other than to try to keep the food warm until they return which is usually within half an hour, although one year I remember there being 2 or 3 votes and they were all ‘3-liners’ meaning that MPs must go to vote.
It is unusual to have worked with a client for such a long time from both sides. Either the client or the venue contact moves on but I like to think in this instance it’s because One Great George Street is such a great venue both to hold an event and to work for.
|OGGS Events Manager Perry Simmonds says a few words at Robert Humphreys’ final Awards dinner, the 21st one in fact, as Honorary Secretary of the APPBG|