Un-beer-lievably Good Festivals
Whether you like it bitter or blonde, malty or mild, hoppy or honeyed, beer is the best. It’s refreshing, it can bring out the flavours in food and there is nothing better than that first pull of a perfect pint after a hard day’s work. Beer is adored right across the globe – the US is enjoying IPAs at the moment, Asia is the proud creator of lagers like Chang and Singha, and Britain loves its real ales – in Peru I once even tried corn beer (I wouldn’t recommend it).
The UK’s food festival scene isn’t just about artisan loaves and cured meats anymore – quietly at first, purveyors of beer started to make a name for themselves on the circuit, and now there are whole festivals dedicated to the glorious stuff. Here’s the lowdown on where beer-lovers need to be this year to sample the very best of it.
Fyne Fest, Friday June 10 – 12th 2016
Since its conception in 2009, this fabulous Fyne festival just keeps getting bigger and better. Started by Fyne Ales Brewery, this festival is about so much more than excellent beer and food. Bringing people together through great live music and camping, this gathering is a chilled-out affair and aims to provide entertainment for children too. For those wanting to escape from it all, head up to the Walker’s Bar, located in a bothy an hour’s walk up the glen, for some relaxing music, excellent food and outstanding drink.
The Reading Beer and Cider Festival, Thursday April 28 2016 - Sunday May 01 2016
On the festival scene, Reading might be better known for its annual music fest, but the Reading Beer and Cider Festival offers quality entertainment too (minus the grubby teens). King’s Meadow will be hosting the festival for the 22nd year in a row, and it’s set to feature over 500 real ales and 150 ciders from the UK as well as some excellent European beers. There’ll be a pub quiz and lots of live entertainment over the event, including family-friendly fun.
Beer & Music Festival at Yorkshire Heart Vineyard, Friday April 29 – Saturday April 30 2016
Some of the best things in life come together at this event: beer, wine, live music and great food. Heart Vineyard in Nun Monkton is one of Yorkshire’s best vineyards, and it’s also the host of the fabulous Beer & Music Festival. Now in its second year and bigger than before, you’ll be able to tuck into barbecue from local farm shops, rock out to some top-notch live music and get your fill of beer. You can make a real event of it by staying at the campsite.
Jimmy’s Farm Sausage & Beer Festival 2016, Saturday July 23 2015 - Sunday July 24 2016
Sausages? Check. Beer? Check. Celebrity chef and all-round good guy? Check. Jimmy’s Farm is opened to the public every summer as he welcomes us to bow down to the greatness of the sausage-and-beer-combo. There’ll be loads of sausage makers showing off their stock as well as beer flowing freely from a number of bars. Bring the family and enjoy a weekend of good grub, farm life, entertainment and beer.
The Great British Beer Festival, Tuesday August 9 2016 - Saturday August 13 2016
When it comes to good beer, you need only to look towards CAMRA to find it. They tirelessly seek out the best brews and are also kind enough to put together the biggest beer-related bash in Britain – the Great British Beer Festival. In its 39th year, the 2016 GBBF will bring over 900 real ales and more pub quizzes, games and entertainment than you could shake a stick at.
Ayrshire Real Ale Festival, Thursday October 06 2016 - Sunday October 08 2016
Every year the Ayrshire Real Ale Festival brings in big crowds, and why wouldn’t it? It’s a whole festival dedicated to ale, wonderful ale. CAMRA are behind this beer-tastic event, bringing more than 150 real ales to thirsty festival-goers. There’ll also be plenty of fantastic music to keep you entertained, with rock bands and a ceilidh – make sure you bring your dancing shoes.
Edinburgh Oktoberfest, Wednesday October 05 2016 - Sunday October 9 2016
For beer lovers, Oktoberfest is a kind of Mecca but, alas, not all of us can make it to Munich for the event. The solution: Edinburgh Oktoberfest. It’s closer to home and there’s plenty to do outside of the festival (should the unthinkable happen and you tire of beer, sausages and good, clean Bavarian fun). You can even bring the family for a fantastic Sunday lunch. Dig out your lederhosen, this is going to be a good one.
Other fabulous Oktoberfest celebrations include Birmingham’s, to be held from October 12th to October 16th 2016 - and Coventry’s from August 24th to August 28th.
Robin Hood Beer & Cider Festival, Wednesday October 12 2016 - Sunday October 15 2016
Nottingham Castle will be taken over by this fabulous beer and cider festival for five days of revelry this October, and it’s set to be a booze-lover’s dream. There’ll be the world’s largest selection of cask ales as well as over 200 ciders to wet your whistle. Catering stalls will be on-hand should you get peckish, and there will also be live music – what more could you ask for?
Birmingham Beer & Cider Festival, Wednesday October 27 2016 - Saturday October 29 2016
Another of the biggest beer and cider festivals in the country, the CAMRA Birmingham Beer & Cider Festival has recently had to relocate to an even bigger venue. This year it will be held at The New Bingley Hall and will present at least 300 British ales, over 100 ciders and perries and a huge range of foreign imports. Keep an eye out for the beers specially brewed for the festival. This festival also puts an emphasis on great food, so there’ll plenty to line your stomach with.