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Beer Festival review of 2017 by John Matthews

March 1, 20180
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This is a story of beer festivals, some large and some very small in the year of 2017. No way can I describe to you all the events of this year’s 30 beer festivals, (parts of which I have limited memory of). Festivals are all so very different. You have CAMRA beer festivals and each area will run it a little differently, CAMRA based festival using the structure of the ticking and the marshalling. Beer festivals at festivals (e.g. Warwick and Cropredy etc.). Pub organised events, club events and club organisations like the Railway Preservation Society in Cricklade. The range is endless, and this makes even one, an adventure into the unpredictable, because you never quite know what is going to be set up.

Getting to festivals can be rather interesting

Trains and bus time and the odd 2- mile walk home (missed the bus), you will always find someone to rabbit on with and this improves as the day progresses. A lot of fun is finding out how amazing some of the venues are. Town halls – Oxford’s is outstanding with top of the range catering, Corn halls, Community Centres and Sports Centres with Chippenham next to the park with a pig roast. Cricket grounds with camping at Morton in the Marsh; it’s a nice train ride. Sometimes you will find a beer festival that you had no idea is on. I.e. On a bus to Swindon hospital and jumped on the train to Bath spotted a festival at a pub called the Raven – so go in – unplanned but great fun!

Things to remember

Don’t leave it to the last train. It can go horribly wrong. Trees on the track, points broken and missed connections and trust me it will happen. Some festivals only have onsite catering. Weymouth is the only one that I have found this year, but it is the sea side and fish chips after the dinner time session on the Harbour wall… you can’t miss that.

Different areas mean different ranges of beers, so go for the ones that are new to you. Try them and remember their names, so that if it turns up as a guest ale in a local establishment, you can give some informed information on it. It may even to be the landlords benefit.

One event that I remember from the year just passed was the last ever barrel of Royal Clarence Hotel, (7.5%). The poor brewery was closed by her Majesties customs and excise in 2017… whoops.

The Love Beer, team from oxford have taken the beer brewer for the day one step on. You can choose the beer that you wish to brew under the title of; build a beer. The beer that they brew is; superb.

The year started at a small local pub The Royal George with 8 beers and ended at the new state of the art tap bar at the Hop Kettle Swindon. Just so many different events and places. The plan (don’t tell God) is to put together some individual reports throughout next season and information on up and coming events and travel for 2018.

Watch this space for lots of good times.

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