Beer lovers of the world unite at festivalBy Paul Robins
April 28, 2010
45,000 pints will be served this weekend. Paul Robins raises his glass to our beer festival
Charge your glasses – the merriest event on Reading’s social calendar is here again.
Thousands of ale lovers will be keeping it real this weekend when they ‘hop’ down to King’s Meadow to guzzle the good stuff.
The event’s chief beer selector has spent months carefully picking through a range of 600 ales from local, UK and world breweries.
From wheat beer to stout, more than 45,000 pints are expected to be downed by thirsty visitors at the annual CAMRA Reading Beer and Cider Festival.
And if beer’s not your thing, this year’s event will cater for everyone’s tastes, with 200 ciders and perries on offer as well as a thirst-quenching selection of foreign beers and English wines to tempt the tastebuds.
Now in its 16th year, Reading’s celebration of the nation’s finest drink is the third biggest in the country, after the London Olympia and Peterborough events.
And organisers are confident that this year’s festival will be the most popular ever.
Spokesman Phil Gill says: “We’re really looking forward to it.
“The Reading Beer and Cider Festival is one of the largest in the country and really puts Reading on the map.”
Phil is particularly proud of the event as it gives visitors the chance to see some of the country’s top beers and taste a huge array of styles and flavours.
“This year we have 600 real ales available – which is the largest range we have ever had,” he says.
“Once again we are championing local breweries. We have a cask of the first beer from the newly-opened Windsor & Eton brewery as well as cider from all the four cider-makers in Berkshire.”
The festivities kick off tomorrow with a blind tasting and judging of local beers brewed within 30 miles of the festival before it opens to the public at 4.30pm.
Revellers can line their stomachs at a range of food stalls – including the ever popular hog roast – pick up some beer-related merchandise and tap their feet to some favourite bands on Friday and Saturday night including swing kings the Ding Dong Daddios.
But, as regulars know, the festival isn’t just for beer aficionados and is a far cry from the stereotypical jolly bearded gentlemen with ballooned bellies.
In fact the event has a real family feel to it, with a host of attractions guaranteed to appeal to young and old.
This includes colouring competitions, wacky balloon modelling and a performance by the Kennet Morris Men.
Traditional pub games will also be on offer in a separate marquee, with table skittles, roll the barrel and shove h’apenny all available to play.
And the fun will continue on Sunday – known traditionally as Family Day – with face painting, bouncy castles and a visit from the shire horses from Hook Norton Brewery.
“There will be so much going on, which is why the festival appeals to the masses and not just your beer connoisseurs,” Phil says.
“There has always been a family atmosphere at Reading – everyone is welcome and I think that’s is why it is so popular.”
Festival organiser Martin Harbor adds: “Everything is coming together to make this year’s festival the best yet.
“All the people who put it together are volunteers and work really hard, and without them the festival wouldn’t exist.
“We do it because we love real ale and want other people to experience it too.”
And Mr Harbor has ensured ale enthusiasts that his team of CAMRA volunteers will be working hard to ensure that the barrels haven’t dried up.
Entry to the festival is free for children up to the age of 18 – although they must be off site by 7pm each evening due to licensing restrictions.
Further information is available at: www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk.
- Thursday, April 29
- Friday, April 30
- Saturday, May 1
- Sunday, May 2
- CAMRA and EBCU
Members: £2 at all times.
- Glass hire