Roll up for the 18th Reading Beer and Cider FestivalBy Mike Pyle
May 02, 2012
Months of preparation have come to a head as thousands of beer lovers begin to converge on King’s Meadow to sample some of the 550 beers, 200 ciders and perries, foreign beers and English wines on offer in the two giant marquees.
Over the next five days people will also be able to enjoy a range of entertainment, fine foods, a quiz, family activities and more at what has grown to become one of the country’s biggest beer festivals.
Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) volunteers including many local publicans have been working hard to prepare the site and from 6pm today the first guests will be able to get their hands on a souvenir glass and start sampling the wares.
This is the 18th annual event – the 17th to be held at King’s Meadow – and is better than ever before.
Festival organiser Martin Harbor said: “This is one of the biggest and best beer festivals in the country and really puts Reading on the map.
“It’s the local people who really make the festival special but we are also looking forward to welcoming our visitors from further afield.”
Reading Beer and Cider Festival is not only about the beer – but it does play a huge part.
Some 450 ales from brewers all over the country will be on offer when the festival opens with around 100 more going on sale on the Saturday.
There will be more than one cask of some of the ales but others, including some of the limited editions and beers specially made for the festival, could run out.
There will be a competition for the best LocAle – brewed within 30 miles of the site – of the festival blind-judged by local brewers, publicans and others.
More than 200 ciders and perries – made with pears – will be available at the festival which makes it the biggest selection anywhere in the country. In recognition of this CAMRA holds its National Cider and Perry awards at the event.
Members of the public will be able to help judge on the Friday afternoon with the winners announced on Saturday afternoon.
Foreign beers are also available at the festival although fans of lager may still be disappointed – these are specialist beers and bear little resemblance to what is on offer in high street pubs.
For the first time American bottled beers will be available at the event.
A range of craft beers from the east and west coasts of the States will be on offer.
Although there are few things better than sitting in the sun with a beer, the festival is not just for good weather.
Mr Harbor added: “The guys who put it all together have done an amazing job and I really hope the sun shines when we’re open.
“But even if we get showery weather it’ll still be a great event – there are two enormous tents that can fit more than 3,000 people under cover and metal walkways in the busy areas so it shouldn’t be muddy.
“And, of course, there’s all that lovely beer to enjoy.”
The festival is open from:
6pm to 11pm today
11am to 11pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Noon to 7pm Sunday.
Entry costs £7 on Wednesday, £8 on Thursday, £9 on Friday and Saturday and £5 on Sunday with discounts for members of CAMRA, EBCU or RURACS.
Glasses can be hired with a £3 deposit.